Will Peter Mandelson ruffle any pink feathers?
The Mole: Mandy has never addressed his sexuality in public. Will he finally deal with it in his new book?
Peter Mandelson has promised to "ruffle feathers" with his biography, The Third Man, to be rushed out this summer before Tony Blair publishes The Journey. But will he ruffle any pink ones?
He has said the book will contain "a mixture of history, autobiography and emotion" and that he will address what he now acknowledges to be the 'soap opera' of the ghastly Blair-Brown relationship.
But what many journalists, gay and straight, want to know is this: will he finally take the chance to address his sexuality and perhaps explain his notorious reticence about fighting for gay rights?
Mandelson is, after all, one of the most high-profile gays in British politics. All his friends and colleagues, even his constituents, have been well aware of it. Yet when he was famously outed by the gay politician-turned-journalist, Matthew Parris, in 1998, he was furious with Jeremy Paxman, whom he blamed for egging Parris on.
He has never discussed his sexuality publicly, never played any part in gay human rights or pink politics. Indeed he’s made it clear when the subject has come up that he’d rather be garroted than talk about it.
As Pink News reported yesterday, "Unlike many other gay politicians, Lord Mandelson has... consistently rebuffed interview requests from the pink press."
However, it is on record that Mandy once said, during an angry phone call to the Independent on Sunday complaining about the newspaper speaking to a former boyfriend: "The time may come one day when I want to talk about these things, but not now. Not at this stage in my political life".
Now that he has declared the New Labour 'stage' over with its defeat at last month's general election, is this the moment?
Among those who, the Mole suspects, will not be holding their breath for any revelations is the gay rights activist Peter Tatchell. It was Tatchell who mentioned that angry phone call to the Sindie in an article he wrote for Punch magazine in 1998, titled 'Why Mandy Won't Let Sexuality Queer the Pitch'.
Tatchell described Mandelson as being "fearless and decisive about everything - except his sexual orientation. It is the one issue on which he appears to be extraordinarily unconfident and reticent". He quoted an anonymous Labour colleague having said: "He is paranoid about his sexuality and doesn't know how to deal with it".
As a result, argued Tatchell, although Mandelson was considered fanciable among gay professionals, and had even made it into a 'hunks of the year' top ten, he was not popular among politically active gays and lesbians.
Intriguingly, one of the reasons for this was something Mandelson wrote in his last book, The Blair Revolution, published in 1996 before New Labour had even come to power.
In the course of the book, he proposed the idea of a state dowry to young newly-weds – how Cameronesque is that? - but, to the fury of gay activists, later rejected the suggestion that the dowry might be extended to same-sex couples. ·
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