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Peter Mandelson is the personification of recent British politics. The post-Thatcher era, when many old arguments faded away and presentational flair eclipsed ideology, has been the time of the image consultant, the court politician and the fixer—in other words, of Mandelsonian politics. Many people regard such crafts as grubby and cynical; but they are appropriate to a pragmatic, managerial period in politics, and no less honourable, in their way, than the aptitudes associated with passionate belief. A more telling critique of Mandelsonian methods is that they are often married to a populism in which polls and focus groups squeeze out…

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