Listening to Lord Mandelson discussing the Libyan fiasco on the news today, I have a grudging respect for both his intellect and his powers as a communicator.
Mandelson is without doubt the Prime Minister Labour never had and I'm reminded of a verse from Milton's 'Paradise Lost', "To justify the ways of God to Man".
Gordon Brown, even if he weren't on holiday, is completely unequipped for dealing with the media, grinning at the wrong moment or simply being characteristically sullen. Those survivors of his shrinking Cabinet are not much better equipped either, although the young David Milliband does try and do a good impression of the young Tony Blair at times.
But the deployment of Mandleson at difficult moments, simply illustrates that Labour has nowhere left to go. Cabinet positions are looking much like the political equivalent of Stalingrad with no relief in sight. There's nobody left, they've all gone, Blunkett, Byers, Smith, Reid, Clarke; the list seems almost endless with the supply of good socialist, New Labour talent either exhausted or to use another metaphor, simply unprepared to join the band on the deck of the Titanic as it slowly sinks below the political waves.
Once the ship has finally disappeared, the rest of us will be left bobbing around in the lifeboats for at least the next ten years wondering why the crew sold the oars and the emergency rations. However, I can promise that one member of the crew will defy the inevitable sinking, having prepared his own lifeboat in advance, a gift perhaps from a wealthy Russian businessman and equipped with all the small luxuries that a successful European politician needs for an ocean-going vacation.
I wonder who that might be?