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Bumping into Peter M on the fundraising campaign trail

Posted on 14 March 2010 | 12:03am

I really hope Peter Mandelson is not too downhearted by the news doing the rounds on twitter and elsewhere that I attracted a bigger crowd to my Manchester fundraiser on Saturday night than Peter did on Friday.

If he were, the disappointment must surely be exacerbated by the fact that his event was free, whilst mine required payment by all guests direct to the campaign to get the splendid Lucy Powell elected as a Labour MP.

One of the auction items was a copy of the Minimum Wage Act signed by TB and GB, to which Peter mischeviously added the words ‘They didn’t do it … I did.’ It allowed me to tell my favourite Peter story, of the time I suggested he show more humility in an interview and he called me afterwards to say ‘I thought I did the humility rather well.’

For the second time in a week, however, I was able to doctor his contribution, by adding beneath his ‘I did’ claim: ‘As a student of Machiavelli, Peter should know that it is always wise to have the last word … Tony did it. AC’

All good harmless fun, and it raised well into four figures. As at Dulwich last week, these delivery documents really do raise good money, as well as remind people of the great things the Labour government has done.

I did a dinner for Lucy a year or so ago. The mood tonight was of a different order. Back then, it was hard to find people who thought she or Labour could win at the next election. That has all changed. Activists who had been out canvassing today said they met plenty of people who were against the government, but plenty who were voting Labour, and precious few who were going to the Tories. Nor are the Lib Dems doing as well as they need to. It was the same story in Sheffield on Friday night.

I hear there is another set of narrowing polls. There are two reasons why they are narrowing. The Tories. And Labour. Them and Us.  People are looking at them more closely, and thinking they do not stack up. They are also  looking at us more closely, and thinking we might not be nearly as bad as painted by the media; that the economy is in safer hands with GB and Alistair Darling then DC and George Osborne, and that the Tory Party talks the talk on change but hasn’t actually delivered it.

And one of the most applauded parts of my speech was the section devoted to saying how terrific Peter is at saying it when he is out in Tory-bashing, Ashcroft-bashing, Labour-defending, Labour-promoting form.

** Buy The Blair Years online to raise money for Labour

  • Carole

    Great do on Sheffield, and I agree the mood is changing. Hope you noticed too how many young people were there. A few returnees too who had left the party over Iraq

  • Hilary Marshall

    You and Peter are quality and best of all the Tories know it, which is why they fear you both. Good luck in all the campaigns work you do

  • Patrick James

    I wonder if you, Peter M. or John P. will be coming to Brighton & Hove?

    My favourite Labour campaigner is still Sarah B. but it sounds like you have been doing a great job 🙂

  • Jacquie R

    Good to hear the positive news from the campaign trail but, without wishing to be a damp squib, did anyone see Benedict Birmberg’s letter in The Guardian yesterday? If old Labour stalwarts like him are moving to the Lib Dems, there is a lot to be woried about, specially at a time like this. But I still think Labour’s biggest barrier to re-election is the electorate’s desire for “change”. This is why I’m going to repeat my comment from the other day: Brown should resurrect and upgrade the post of Deputy Prime Minister and give it to the one person I think could symbolise change – Ed Milliband. I know it’s a bit US presidential-style having two on the ticket,so as to speak,but why not? It would encourage people to have hope and see Milliband as a potential successor to Brown. Would love to know what you and others think about this, Alastair …..