That Lord Mandelson was the darling of Labour conference this week is one sign of party’s decline.
Another is the nature of the only argument between the union leaders and the Labour leadership.
New Labour stripped the conference of most debate in the 1990s. And two years ago Gordon Brown persuaded union leaders to ditch the conference’s last right to vote on a handful of so-called “contemporary resolutions”.
Until then the conference could still defeat the leader.
The motions were ignored by the government but they gave a voice to the frustration at the party’s direction.
What passed for meaningful policy making went instead to the leadership-controlled national policy forum.
After union demands, voting on contemporary motions may be reinstated next year.
An attempt to introduce one member, one vote elections for constituency members of the policy forum was to be put to the conference on Wednesday.
The leadership was fighting hard against this extremely trivial change.
They even looked likely to call an emergency national executive meeting to overrule any vote passing it.
Also on the agenda is a CWU union motion on the Royal Mail pension scheme.
This calls for the “government, as sole shareholder, to take on its responsibility for the deficit and engage with all stakeholders to resolve this matter.”
Ministers are set to oppose this motion.