Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Mandelson: The Star and the Supermodel

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Mandelson: The Star and the Supermodel

Article excerpt

The Mirror has found a new cause to champion. No, not Camilla: Peter Mandelson.

"I won't be beaten by cowards," stormed Derek Draper's erstwhile employer, narrowly pipped to Monday's front page by Raine Spencer.

In a leader, the Mirror condemned the Observer's "disgraceful campaign to undermine Peter Mandelson". "Instead of being savaged, Mr Mandelson should be praised. Instead of calls for him to be kicked out, he should be given a place in the cabinet."

Is this the paper that hammered Robin Cook? Chided Frank Dobson? Exposed Bernie Ecclestone's largesse?

Pungent professional feuding is at work. The same editorial denounces the Observer as "a pathetic shambles of an amateurish newspaper". The Mirror last week tried to discredit the Observer's "lobbygate" reporter, Greg Palast, under a banner headline "The Liar".

Why the vitriol? Think back to the grisly Christmas endured by the Straw family, after young William was caught by Mirror reporters selling cannabis in a pub. The Observer was damning about the story, reporting that covert tapes made by the Mirror hacks were of such poor quality that they were no use to police. "The idea that a modern investigative journalist should not record usable evidence is hard to credit."

Passing over the question of whether a wired-up Palast could have got a better-quality recording of Roger Liddle at a cocktail party, why should Mandelson be the Mirror's hero of the hour?

Though you wouldn't know it from his public performances, Mandelson can be funny and charming in private. Editors appreciate that, including the Mirror's Piers Morgan. Kelvin MacKenzie, who spurred the paper to sink its teeth into Labour, is no longer on the scene.

Now the Mirror seems hell-bent on making Mandelson a star. How else do you explain Friday's photo of him with the supermodel Elle Macpherson? They met at a party, allowing the subeditors to dub him "one Elle of a guy". …

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