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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 15:52 GMT
Just the job for Peter

Having resigned his cabinet portfolio, what will Peter Mandelson do with his spare energies? Is there life after political disgrace, asks Ryan Dilley?

For a man used to being at the very heart of political intrigue, can the twice-disgraced Peter Mandelson settle quietly into the backbenches - filling the slack hours with his professed hobbies, swimming and walking?

Peter Mandelson MP
"It's grim in t'backbenches"
Or will he seek other distractions now his workload has unexpectedly lightened?

Former US president Richard Nixon had no sooner withdrawn from the public gaze following the Watergate scandal than he was back to restate his side of the story, in RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon.

Of course, PM: The Memoirs of Peter Mandelson may do little to endear the former minister to that other PM, Tony Blair.

Ex-Tory minister Jonathan Aitken - who lost his Rolex watch, cufflinks and liberty when he lied in court during a libel trial - looked to a higher authority than even Tony Blair for rehabilitation.

After his release from prison the convicted perjurer enrolled to study theology at Oxford and professed a determination to make peace with his God.

Softie cell

Like Aitken, former government minister John Profumo visited a few prison cells following his 60s sex and spies scandal - but as an act of charity.

The man who brought the Macmillan government to its knees was awarded a CBE for his later good works - though he kept the wolf from the door by sitting on the board of an insurance firm.

Jonathan Aitken
"If you want the time, ask a policeman"
With his bulging contacts book, Mr Mandelson may decide charity starts at home and look for some more lucrative sidelines.

Given his pedigree as a London Weekend Television producer, a media career may beckon again. Other Westminster casualties have found their notoriety a boon in getting on the box.

Neil "Cash for questions" Hamilton and his ever-present wife Christine are a regular fixture on the box. Mrs Hamilton was even given her own chatshow, themed around overcoming adversity.

Fellow shamed minister David Mellor has since found his metier in radio presentation.

Novel idea

After enduring the, often unfavourable, glare of publicity, Mr Mandelson may instead prefer the solitude of writing. For inspiration he might like to read Justin Cartwright's recent novel, Half In Love.

It tells of cabinet minister Richard McAllister, whose close friendship with the PM isn't enough to save him from spin and an adultery scandal.

The fictional Mr McAllister - described as "direct, selfless and honest" - decides to head to South Africa to write a book about his Boer War hero grandfather.

David Mellor
"Parliament is all behind me"
Luckily, Mr Mandelson too boasts a noteworthy predecessor - the distinguished statesman and Labour Party reformer Herbert Morrison. Shall we await HM: My Memories of Grandpa Herbert?

If Mr Mandelson chooses to set himself up in business, he could look to birds of a feather for a loan. No, not Geoffrey Robinson.

Billericay MP Harvey Proctor, who lost his seat after a gross indecency conviction, want into the retail business, setting up a shirt shop in Richmond, Surrey.

Keeping your hand in

And yet despite its many trials, some politicians find it difficult to leave the cut and thrust of high office behind, and are more than eager to bring their knowledge and experience to bare.

Francis Bacon, who lost his post as Lord Chancellor to accusations of bribery in 1621, continued to rattle out memoranda and speeches for his former masters, undeterred by an order banning him from coming within 12 miles of the king.

Chicken Run
"No, Francis!"
His enthusiasm for politics was only matched by his scientific curiosity. This proved his final undoing. Too much free time led him to wonder if chicken flesh could be preserved with a liberal stuffing of snow.

The 65-year-old promptly caught a chill and died.

Mr Mandelson will be hoping he fares somewhat better, now that he is likewise out in the cold.

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See also:

21 Jun 00 | Americas
After the White House
24 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Sinner studies the saints
22 Dec 00 | UK
Hamilton vows to fight on
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