Up to now, relatives have only been able to use a tiny ventilation shaft to send the men messages of hope, antidepressant tablets and signed photographs of Jack Straw and Harriet Harman. ‘But this is the news we were hoping for,’ said the wife of one miner. ‘At last my husband will be able to read what really happened that night at Granita.’
The news that a hardback copy of the memoirs could be lowered down a newly-drilled 18-cm wide shaft by November was greeted by the miners with cheers and a rousing rendition of the Chilean national anthem. ‘When we heard that it could take until Christmas to rescue us, our first thought was “Madre de Dios, when will we find out the true story behind the rise and fall of New Labour?”‘, said Victor Segovia, 48. He reported that conditions in the collapsed copper mine are ‘suffocating and hellish’, with dwindling supplies of food and water and only Peter Mandelson’s side of the story to go on.