Lord Mandelson likes to think he knows a thing or two about Labour winning elections. So it’s odd that the man so keen on message discipline should start sticking his oar into the debate about Labour’s policies with just weeks to go before the General Election. Is it that the Labour peer doesn’t think Labour will win and so was throwing caution to the wind by popping up on Newsnight to call the Mansion Tax crude and say the Lib Dems had a better-designed policy?
To make matters more bizarre, he found himself being congratulated by Diane Abbott of all people, with the leftwing hopeful for Labour’s mayoral candidacy saying ‘Lord Mandelson is on to something: it will be problematic in London’. It fell to Ed Balls to defend his policy on this slightly awkward World at One interview (just listen to his awkward chuckle at the start of the interview in response to Martha Kearney asking him if he wanted to ‘clobber’ Lord Mandelson).
Noises off from Diane Abbott, who often operates within the whipping arrangements and message discipline of the Diane Abbott Party rather than Labour proper, are one thing; complaints this close to an election from Mandelson suggest that the Blairites are not sitting comfortably.