Defending Mandy

Yes, really, defending Peter Mandelson.

The face of the European Commissioner for Trade now adorns thousands of placards and "Stop Mandelson" posters as Irish opposition to the EU treaty grows ahead of a referendum next month.

Irish farmers and No campaigners have claimed that world trade negotiations for the EU, conducted by Mr Mandelson, would slash farm incomes and lead to mass rural unemployment.

Mr Mandelson is unapologetic about his role in World Trade Organisation talks to cut "protectionist" agriculture subsidies, such as those defended by Irish farmers.

Yes, we do want to reduce (reduce only, for abolishment is of course not a political possibility) the distortions caused by those protectionist policies. So at least in principle, Mandelson is saying the right things.

Of course, if he sets out his stall in such a cack handed manner that he also goes on to provoke a No vote in the Irish referendum, this would also be a marvellous result.

So, well done all round really.

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