Peter Mandelson is an... unusual... political figure.
He began his career as an exponent of the blackest of the black political arts. The quintessential back room boy, he was one of the most ruthless of the political spin doctors who jointly founded the New Labour project. Fiercely loyal to Tony Blair, he repressed anti-Labour stories and promoted the New Labour project with a will that one of my friends, who as a Newsnight producer was a regular recipient of Mr. Mandelson's brand of charmless bullying, did not hesitate to describe as "evil".
Yet, as a Minister, he was surprisingly clumsy. He was forced from office, not just once, but twice under circumstances that would have destroyed any other political career. His forgetfulness over loans advanced to him to purchase his large house in Notting Hill could have left him open to fraud charges. His handling of the Hinduja passport applications was said to be "naive", yet the very word naive seemed the antithesis of this sophisticated and cerebral figure. Even Mr. Mandelson's closely guarded personal life- he has a long-term Brazilian male partner- came into the public realm in the almost farcial disclosure by the journalist, Matthew Paris. Peter Mandelson left British politics under something of a cloud, yet he was still able to gain the significant power of the European Trade Commissioner.
The news that Mandelson is set to return to the Cabinet can only be a shock. It is public knowledge that Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson have long been bitter political enemies. The repressed emotionalism of both men has certainly contributed to a bitter feud. Why then does Gordon Brown want Peter Mandelson in his Cabinet?
The answer can not be that he values his ministerial skills. There are still many high quality figures, such as Denis Macshane, who have not been brought back into government, and Macshane was a far more popular Minister than Mandelson was. Clearly it is for the black arts of political threats and blackmail that Gordon Brown has chosen to resurrect the undead political career of his old enemy.
Mandelson inside the tent may prove to be a more potent political force than he was in more distant Brussels. Yet that threat may prove to be more to the Prime Minister himself than to his opponents across the floor. Mandelson is widely disliked across the country, and having been out of the loop for so long, he is a far less formidable figure than he once was.
It seems somehow appropriate that the dying years of the New Labour project should see the resurrection of the ruthless, dishonest and baleful influence of this most disliked and distrusted politicians. The undead political career of Peter Mandelson joining the Zombie government of Gordon Brown.
I shall be clutching at garlic and crucifixes and loading my pistol with silver bullets. I do not expect to see the Cabinet in daylight at all.