Trots blamed for Mandy’s mushy myth

Peter Mandelson doesn’t have a weblog but he does have a very impressive website.

The interactive element is the Hartlepool MP’s responses to reader questions and it was there that I disovered the truth behind the oft-told story that he once mistook mushy peas for guacamole.

Here is Mandelson’s explanation:

A reputable source (Andy McSmith, political editor of the Independent on Sunday) informs me that the story is actually true – but I was not the person involved.

Apparently, the mistake was made by an American student volunteering in the Knowsley North by-election in 1986. Having swapped the joys of the Californian sun for leafleting the streets of Knowsley, she was not having the best of times – so glimpsing what she thought was a bowl of avocado dip in the local chippie was a bright moment in the campaign for her. It was, of course, mushy peas!

The story soon became a tool for left-wing Militant activists working to destroy the Labour party, who used it as a rallying cry against Labour Party ‘yuppies’ sent by Walworth Road to help win the by-election. When my former boss Neil Kinnock recycled this joke at my leaving do from the Labour Party – this time with me as the unsuspecting dupe – it took on its own reality. The rest, as they say, is history

I find the stuff about Kinnock spicing the tale up and the media repeating for years to come entirely believable but I have to wonder what kind of Californian student volunteered to campaign against Hatton’s mob in the Knowsley North by-election?