Byline: Lit tlejohn email@example.com
COMPOSER Tom Lehrer remarked that satire died the day Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. Kissinger was Richard Nixon's Secretary of State and had held a number of U.S. government offices, including director of nuclear weapons study and membership of the weapons systems evaluation group for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It doesn't get much more peaceful than that. So I wonder what Lehrer might have made of the news that Peter Mandelson has been appointed head of 'ethical' banking at Lazard International.
You couldn't make it up.
When it comes to 'ethics', the name of Mandelson is not one that you would expect to find in the same sentence.
This is a man who was twice forced to resign from government amid allegations of financial impropriety.
Mandelson, you may recall, lied to his building society in order to secure a monster mortgage on a house he couldn't afford without a secret [pounds sterling]373,000 loan from his wealthy Labour colleague Geoffrey Robinson.
He was extremely fortunate to avoid the attentions of the fraud squad, yet somehow managed to hold on to the profit when he had to dispose of the property.
Mandelson also employed a legal but highly dubious accounting trick to avoid having to pay the full whack of stamp duty on another home. Since then he has slithered his way up the property ladder and is currently residing in an [pounds sterling]8million pad next to London's Regent's Park. Quite a journey for a man who, when Labour went into government in 1997, was living in a onebedroom flat.
The source of his wealth is shrouded in mystery, since his income is shielded by a corporate structure and, until next March when this loophole is closed, does not have to be revealed in the House of Lords Members' Register of Interests.
Eyebrows were raised when he bought a previous house for [pounds sterling]2.4million while still a European Commissioner on a comfortable, butnot wildly extravagant, civil servant's salary.
Mandelson attempted to explain away where he had got the money from, but even back-of-the-envelope calculations didn't add up.
We do know that he seems to spend a considerable amount of time bogsnorkelling his way around the murky financial waters of former Soviet states.
He has interests in oil-rich Kazakhstan, for instance, and was introduced to the world of high finance by his close friend Nat Rothschild, of 'Yachtgate' fame. …