Saturday, 14 August 2010
Peter Mandelson got another chance to plug his well-selling memoirs on Radio 4's Meeting Myself Coming Back this evening.
The programme was picked up and previewed by various media pushing the angle that Mandelson was played a recording of Matthew Parris "outing" him on Newsnight in 1998.
Mandelson commented: "What upset me first of all was that they should be debating this as though it was some sort of question that hadn't been answered or that it was of some political importance.
"I didn't feel any inhibition leading my life as I did. To all intents and purposes - my home, my family, my friends - there was no sort of secret. I had been outed by the News of the World some 10 years before in 1987 and had long since got over it and got through it. What I didn't accept very easily was this had suddenly become the subject of a political discussion on Newsnight, when in my view it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my life as a politician or what I was doing as a minister."
Mandelson is being slightly mendacious - his role in a BBC internal memo swiftly issued afterwards ("Under no circumstances whatsoever should allegations about the private life of Peter Mandelson be repeated or referred to on any broadcast") was brushed over.
But what did you expect? Peter Mandelson's a spin doctor; managing the economy of truth is what he does for a living.
Fagburn dug out a copy of Gay Times from July 1987 to see how his initial outing was dealt with at the time. It happened during a particularly nasty and - for the tabloids - a particularly homophobic general election campaign.
Mandelson was a key player, but a minor character; the two page spread from The News Of The World is reproduced along with several other press cuttings as an illustration in Gay Times' Mediawatch section.
But so much other anti-gay crap was being thrown it didn't warrant an actual mention in the text of a three page feature, nor on the 22 pages of News, beyond its headline being quoted in a round-up; 'My Love For Gay Labour Boss'.
He just wasn't newsworthy back then. Mandelson isn't mentioned by name in The News of The World piece until the second paragraph - and he shares his spread with the latest on Harvey Procter MP; 'Spanking Tory Resigns At Last'.
Fagburn has nothing further to add to what I've already written about Mr Mandelson's closetry, except to remark that this shows that coming out is a continual process, and - equally - slipping back into the closet is quite easy.
And - but for a bit of schoolboy sniggering ("Mandy...") - if you have the press onside they'll happily collude with your closetry.
Is anyone surprised at Peter Mandelson's newfound candour?
He's happy to talk about his sexuality now - he's not trying to sell the Labour Party, but he knows such straight talking will help promote his book.