Lord Mandelson denied reports that he was 'high as a kite' yesterday, following an exuberant display at the Labour Party conference. The Business Secretary managed to inject life into an otherwise demoralised conference with a rousing speech that claimed that the Party could still win the next election and that promised undivided loyalty to Gordon Brown.
In an era when everyone assumes that politicians must be 'on something', and coming hot on the heels of Andrew Marr's questioning of the PM about the use of prescription drugs, it is hardly surprising that commentators assumed that Lord Mandelson's speech was the result of his taking 'happy pills'. The speech was an emotional roller-coaster that ranged from the frenzied to the coquettish, from the camp to the strident.
At times he was self-effacing and demure, meandering effortlessly through the past gripes and criticisms of his enemies. But eventually he was laying into the Conservatives in an impassioned and almost fanatical rant, claiming that Labour still had the ability to beat the Cameron crew. The Lord's temper was infectious. At the end of a speech that whipped the delegates into near hysteria, he won a standing ovation and received the adulation of many of his former critics.
Said an excited delegate, "On happy pills? Of course he is not on happy pills... If you had been resurrected from the dead for a third time, found that everyone was calling you 'The Lord' and realised that you could walk on water, you'd be high as a kite."