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18Jul/100

Mandelson Third Man Advert

Like some cadaverous, preening old Baron in a ramshackle old mansion, probably with BDSM chambers and portrait-filled attics, Lord Mandelson sits in front of the fire reading a fairy tale from his own diaries about how fucking shit-hot amazing he was.

He appears somewhere between Noel Coward, Dorian Grey and Bela Lugosi, sallow of skin and sunken of cheek. He's now beyond any kind of self-awareness, or shame if you like. The timing of the memoir; the revelations within; the self-justification of his last moment in the political sun, at the expense of his frends, colleagues and party.

Mandelson gives every impression that he couldn't care less, and pokes fun at himself a little. It is, perhaps, this artlessness concerning himself that has led Mandelson to agree to this hideous advert that shows his to be vain, disloyal, smug, preening, untrustworthy and lacking in judgement.

But Mandy is the sort of man who thrives on criticism and insults. It's easy to imagine he feeds on it, like a grotesque monster in a B-movie made stronger by repeated laser beam hits.

I don't expect that Mandelson cares what anyone thinks for a second, or that he sees the advert as anything other than a means to an end. But is the publicity worth it if you appear to confirm everyone's worst fears about your character for the sake of a few sales?

That portrait must be getting more grubby by the day.

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