I'm just struck (insomnia again) with a theory about Peter and Gordon. I'll come to that in the penultimate, third, paragraph - but first - have you noticed the way in which the MSM is full of positive coverage about Mandelson's return - see for example this piece in today's Telegraph from Matthew D'Ancona. I sense this is one of those issues which will separate political insiders from the wider public, but of course I could be wrong. (However, Mr Keith came home from work on Friday to tell me that his colleague, Neil, a mainstream Labour voter, heralded the return of the Prince of Darkness by asking to be smacked in the face with a hammer. This may be how Labour voters of South London choose to show their spontaneous joy at Mandelson Part III, but I'm unconvinced) (Keith offered tea, rather than a hammer).
I also think media reaction is more evidence that said media's narrative has changed - they're fed up writing about Brown being finished, so they've decided (too strong a word, I doubt it's a conscious decision) to switch back to "Voters move back to Brown" type pieces. Mandelson's unexpected return gives them a hook for that narrative. They're also committing (see Derek Draper's piece on commentisfree) a flawed deduction: because Peter Mandelson was once a member of an electorally successful Labour government, it does not follow at all that his presence in government is either necessary or sufficient for electoral success.
Anyway my psychological theory. Written into all the articles about Mandelson's return, you sense a general air of bewilderment and head-scratching: surely these two men hate each other? Surely Mandelson and Brown didn't speak to one another for fourteen years? Surely their great rivalry was a constant headache for Tony Blair? The solution to this emotional puzzle seems quite obvious to me (maybe because ... no that's too hackneyed). Think Jules et Jim (from the IMDB plot database: "Decades of a love triangle concerning two friends and an impulsive woman"). Think Dora, Lytton and Ralph. Now think Tony, Peter and Gordon. There really were three people in the First New Labour marriage.
But Tony's gone. Impossible for you or I to understand the strange quality of the relief that his departure must have brought even, or especially, to those who once worshipped him. The strain for both Mandelson and Brown must have been immense. That tension, the requirement to sublimate feelings of cowardice or treachery - or sheer jealousy - has vanished. All that Mandelson and Brown are doing is resetting their emotional attachment to that which it was before the former PM got in their way. The only surprise is that it's taken them so long.
I admit I have no theory at all to explain Margaret Beckett.