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 http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.