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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: moderate, iconic royals are a shoe-in for a pedantic kicking

Guy Keleny
 

Letter from the Whitehall Editor: Cameron is running scared from the “empty chair”

Oliver Wright
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us