Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Listen carefully, here's a politician that reeks of power

Share
Related Topics

The clouds parted and the Lord came down among us.

Mandelson, ennobled, can't answer questions in the House of Commons. He came to the committee instead. They fell over themselves to welcome him and laugh at his jokes. The Tories were particularly hospitable. The chairman kept thanking him for coming. Julie Kirkbride bobbed submissively. Lindsay Hoyle alone was unimpressed. It is his talent. He is from Chorley. He said at some length that the practice of appointing people to the Lords in order to get them into the Cabinet was "unacceptable".

Lord Mandelson replied: "I'll pass your views on to the Prime Minister." Or as other people put it: "Fuck off."

No one rattled Lord M, no one disturbed him. He is imperturbable. Impenetrable. Criticism slides off him. When under pressure he talks more quietly, and no more quickly. Unlike Gordon Brown he never seems to say anything he doesn't mean.

He is one of the few politicians with a sense of personal power. John Reid's like that. Michael Howard is, too. Cameron's got it a bit. Gordon only has it because he puts so much effort into it. Without Mandelson the Government would have imploded by now.

In his department – this new, germanic Economics Ministry he has assembled under him – Mandelson is much admired by his civil servants. "He's always listening," one said. True, that would make many of us uncomfortable. His only fault? People will only know things he wants them to know. And so the committee learned nothing.

A sketch in two halves: To be fair to Bercow, it probably wasn't him who leaked his own announcement about electing new deputy speakers. That would be too much to hope for. He thinks it's the whips who traduced him, and has threatened that if they do so again he will never consult them on anything.

"And there was war in heaven"! That was quick.

He is proposing to boot out the deputy speakers after the recess and have elections for their posts (hitherto deputies have been appointed by the whips). This is modern. Transparent. Accountable. But nothing is simple. If the whole House votes on each candidate the Tories will probably fail to get a deputy (Labour vote themselves two and the Lib-Dems get one, with Labour support). So to solve this (says a source close to the Speaker), he wants to restrict the voting for government candidates to the government side, and for opposition candidates to the opposition's side.

Bercow is a great expert on procedure and has presumably cleared a path through to this idea. But Speakers are supposed to represent the whole House, not this side or that. So Bercow's first major initiative is to inject party politics into matters that are supposed to be above and beyond such squalor. By his works shall ye know him.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - OTE £37,000

£16000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The ideal candidate will want t...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician / Helpdesk - 2nd / 3rd Line

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Application Developer

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in the centre of Glasgow,...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Fifa 16: Including women's football teams is going to improve the game, not break it

Mollie Goodfellow
 

For the sake of the millions of girls who miss vital schooling during their periods, we must dismantle the 'menstrual taboo'

Emily Wilson Smith
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada