Much has been written this week about whether Peter (Lord) Mandelson has plans to take over from Gordon Brown to lead the Labour Party.
It seems to me, to be a bit of a ridiculous proposition and the only question that should really be asked is why should he, or anyone else for that matter, want to?
Labour, as it presently stands, is a busted flush. It has no direction, no leadership and very little support either from the public or its own MPs. The fallout from the recent expenses scandal has damaged Labour far more than its rivals - even though, MPs from all parties were equally guilty.
With an election looming on the horizon and the country still deep in a recession, it seems almost an impossibility that Labour will have a chance of retaining power.
Why then should Mandelson,want to lead what will become the next opposition - probably for years to come based on the voting trends of the last thirty years.
Mandelson has far more power in his present position, than he ever would as Party Leader. He seems to know where the 'skeletons are buried' and he is able to manipulate and cajole events - and the media - to turn in his favour. He has an arrogance that is both detestable and admirable at the same time. He has proved himself to be a truly remarkable political survivor, despite being forced out of the cabinet, in disgrace, on two separate occasions.
It is unlikely that whoever succeeds Gordon Brown will pass the 'test of time' to make it back into power. The party is far more likely to go through a long period of self destruction, re-evaluation and blame, before it can ever settle on unity again.
Mandelson is far better placed to orchestrate the long term future of Labour - and retain his control - from his present position than from being its leader. At the moment he is in a place of respect - as a leader he would be in a position of blame.
He has proved himself to be far too canny an operator to be caught out like that.
He is a Kingmaker and not a King
Peter (Lord) Mandelson has more than earned the right to be known as 'The Prince of Darkness'