Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Peter Mandelson nails New Labour's coffin

I’ve been following the serialisation of Lord Peter Mandelson’s memoirs in The Times The Third Man with a growing sense of disbelief.
It looks like for much of the last 13 years the government of Britain was led by men and women who lacked a moral compass and placed their own survival over the best interests of the country.
At its rotten heart was the continuing grudge felt by Gordon Brown that Tony Blair had edged him out of the Prime Minister’s job.
When Brown finally got the keys to No. 10, it soon became clear he was an election liability. He remained consumed with what Mandelson describes as “neurosis and pent-up anger” about Blair. But no one in the Cabinet - including Baron Mandelson, of Foy in the County of Herefordshire and of Hartlepool in the County of Durham - had the bottle to stage a coup.
As a consequence Labour MPs could be marooned on the Opposition benches for a long time to come.
It’s a big ‘if’ but should the Tory-LibDem coalition work, Mandelson’s book, as quoted by comment writer Rachel Sylvester in today’s newspaper, could contain New Labour’s epitaph.
Brown told Mandelson, “It was all so wretched between us all – you, me, Tony (Blair). It was so wasteful. We could have achieved so much more.” Indeed.
By calling the book The Third Man, Mandelson puts himself firmly at the centre of events and therefore must take his full share of blame. But the tag is at the same time gimmicky and yet ill considered – like a New Labour headline grabbing initiative.
Mandelson is nothing like Harry Lime nor spy Kim Philby. Not for him a life in the shadows – a man who twice resigned from ministerial office and yet made it to the House of Lords.
No doubt Mandelson will continue to enjoy the high life that he has become accustomed. He has started well making money from the ashes of the Labour party by selling the serial rights of his book to the Rupert Murdoch flagship.
I hope Mandelson’s desire to hit the bookstands a couple of months before Tony Blair’s tome (recently re-titled from The Journey to the less-messianic A Journey) didn’t distract him from his efforts as a Labour election campaign chief. As I recall he kept a pretty low profile throughout. But then he knew it was a lost cause.

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