You're a Prime Minister in trouble trying to dodge the slings and arrows of outrageous Blairites. Your cabinet is disappearing faster than rats off a sinking ship. If this goes on much longer, you will have to appoint the Downing Street gardener as DEFRA secretary. What do you do? You sell your soul to the one person whose dark arts can smooth the troubled waters for the price of a fancy title and an enhanced job as Minister for Everything (or words to that effect). Even if you have to put up with the alleged fearsome strop, it's worth it to have your reputation saved.
You would think that getting the status and power to really kick ass within the Government would be enough of a challenge for the Guacamole One, but no, in his spare time, according to the Jewish Chronicle and Iain Dale, he's been helping Bernie Ecclestone get his foot out of his mouth after his faux pas at the weekend where he suggested that Hitler and Saddam were nothing if not efficient.
If that is the case, then Mandelson must be a bit of a glutton for punishment - you would think he had enough on his plate trying to sort the Government out and keep the mercurial PM on track without seeking out other lost causes to back.
I'm not so sure, though. The substance of Bernie's apology is not that great. He seems to think that democracy can't deliver strong change because people are unwilling to say what they really think. My interpretation of his apology is that he gets why his words were unacceptable to the general public, but I'm not convinced that he actually sees why they were wrong.
His comments to the Jewish Chronicle about having close Jewish friends smacks of the "I'm not racist but......." type thing.
My hunch is that Mandelson and Ecclestone might well have spoken privately, and Mandelson might have said words to the effect of "you prat, you're going to have to grovel to get out of this" but I suspect if Mandelson had been involved in the wording of the apology it would have ended after the words I'm sorry and not gone into some self justifying rant that did nothing more than re-insert the foot to the mouth. The Prince of Darkness is not so sloppy.
Iain Dale is trying to make out some sort of scandal associating the Labour Party with Ecclestone's comments, but that is I think just the usual mischief making on his part.