Saturday, 4 October 2008

Peter Mandelson and the coat off my back

Peter Mandelson once tried to buy my jacket off me at the Grand Hotel in Brighton during some Labour conference shindig or other. In doing so, he destroyed what little fashion cred I had (never much, especially in the early 1990s, when it happened) and placed a big question mark over my political orientation among the lefty conference rabble-rousers who were watching to see what I would do.

In the event, my price was too high. I might have been willing to part with a principle or two to speed up any future passport applications. But it was blowing a storm on the Brighton seafront and surrendering the coat off my back was a step too far.

The next day, in different company, Mandy denied that he’d ever made the offer. In fact, he all but denied that he knew me at all. It seemed a purposeless, straight-faced lie. Did he do it to avoid some trivial diary item, the sort of flotsam tossed around by eager hacks surfing the seaside conference gossip? Or was it, as it felt at the time and has seemed all the more so since, a simple pleasure in power: ‘I lie because I can, and there’s nothing you can do about it?’

Either way, I wouldn’t want him in my Cabinet – or leave my jacket on the back of the chair when it’s raining outside.

Cartoon by Hack, used under a Creative Commons licence from the truly wonderful

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