Is this Brown's idea of a joke?

There are two feasible reasons for Gordon Brown embracing Peter Mandelson into the body of his Kirk.

Tara Hamilton-Miller
Tara Hamilton-Miller

The first is utter fear - cannot sleep, perspiring, 'I must take on the man I loathe most in the world' fear. The second is simply to lighten up an autumn that is becoming increasingly depressing by the day. He did it for a laugh.

It becomes clearer when you think about it. Brown has played his joker card. Mandelson is playing along with this. The magenta-coloured sweater for the announcement photo was comedy-basic funny, although surprisingly no-one said anything about this. Is it because laughing at his pullover might be seen as homophobic? Or because everyone was rightly concentrating on the financial collapse of the world? Or am I just mean?

Mandelson is amusing. He sometimes looks like a Flash Harry Spiv, he sometimes looks like the keyboard player from Sparks. When his hair is a little fuller he looks a bit like any one of the Spandau Ballet boys.

He is nearly as good an actor as Tony Blair. The dash to hospital on his first day back at school. Holding that carefully crafted little stone back for maximum publicity - what a pro.

Most Tories are utterly bewildered by the return of Mandelson. An official measured line was sent out but they still think his re-appointment is desperate and quite bonkers. A press release from Conservative HQ should simply have read: 'What the F*&K?'

Brown was meant to be anti-spin and he has invited back the ultimate spinner. Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian professor of literature and culture, developed a theory of media claiming that the medium is the message. That sums up Mandelson's approach to politics. You don't have policy in one box and spin in another. The whole thing is one big spin.

For all this talk (well, one backbencher) about new-found unity in the Government, Labour MPs are not entirely behind the Mandelson comeback. One said in a wonderfully Leslie Nielsen Airplane-style moment: 'I don't like him but that's not important right now.'

- Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and formerly worked for the Conservative Party press team.

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