Saturday News Review

The great survivor 

Leadership candidates call on Mandelson to exit stage left

In interviews with The Times, the candidates – David Miliband, his brother Ed and Andy Burnham – suggested it is time for the peer to leave the political stage. David Miliband, former foreign secretary, said Lord Mandelson’s book The Third Man is “destructive and self-destructive” and should have come “after retirement, not before…”. Ed Miliband, the former climate change secretary, said the peer is “his own worst spin doctor” and had “offended just about everyone”. He said: “I think this is sad and damaging to Peter, not just to the Labour Party”, adding: “It’s time for a new generation.” Mr Burnham, who was health secretary in the last Labour government, said: “Peter loves the spotlight but it’s time to leave the stage.” – Press Association.

Mr Campbell, victim of a coded kicking in the book, had counterstruck this very day, in this very newspaper, by calling Mandelson a liar, or manager, over an arcane point regarding the Lib-Lab coalition talks he attended. But then he’s one of so many, Mr Blair in the vanguard, to have put the boot in. Having so little experience of internecine strife, this must all be terribly painful for you. “It’s not the end of my world,” says the Gloria Gaynor of British politics laconically, as his taxi draws to its halt. “I will survive.” – The Telegraph.

Balls acknowledged that both men in their different ways are in fact tribal Labour and powerfully described a “commonality” between the two. “Putting that big issue aside, Peter was Labour and I was Labour, we wanted the government to succeed, we wanted to win the election, Peter and I were always the people who, at key moments, were willing to go out and defend the government. I was never part of any plotting and I don’t think anyone suggests Peter particularly was. We were both, as we saw it, trying to do the right thing and doing the right thing meant coming together. We were more effective than we would have been opposing each other; just not effective enough sadly.” – The New Statesman.


SITTING AT a table in the House of Commons this week, a Labour MP fumed about Peter Mandelson’s memoirs: “self-serving”; “ego-driven”, “utterly self-interested”, and those are only the phrases one can quote. Mandelson’s The Third Man: Life at the Heart of New Labour has earned him up to £500,000 (€590,000), if one can believe publishing gossip – though much of it is often froth – from Harper Press and the serialisation rights taken up this week by the Times. However, it has come at a cost. Last year, Mandelson, the man Labour never learned to love, was taken to the bosom of the party at its annual conference in Brighton, when he spoke from the heart about his love for Labour and his regrets for the mistakes that he had made. – The Irish Times.

What next? 
Labour’s policies will inevitably change and, hopefully, the new generation will manage to avoid the vicious personality battles of the past 16 years. At least the party is having a proper leadership contest this time and the winner will have a mandate. Lord Mandelson, desperate to avoid a TB versus GB showdown in 1994, now admits it should have happened because Mr Brown felt cheated out of the prize. In 2007, Mr Brown ran a leadership campaign against … well, no one but himself. Mad. – The Independent.

The influential Labour backbencher John Cruddas will announce he wants to run for chair of the Labour party, while continuing to dodge questions of who he backs for Labour leader. Instead of endorsing a candidate, the MP for Barking and Dagenham will use a speech to activists in central London to set out his own plans to shake up the Labour party. Aides say that Cruddas has ambitions to help the Labour party through the most fundamental rethink of the party since the abolition of clause IV in the early 1990s. – The Guardian.

Ken sweeps up 
Ken Livingstone, the Labour candidate who wants his old job back as Mayor of London, is hoovering up the affiliated union nominations on what used to be known(and still is to some) as the industrial wing of the labour movement. Unite, Unison, GMB, Ucatt and Tssa all support Red Ken’s bid with party rival Oona King yet to get a score on the union door, although she may get Usdaw while he’s likely to add the CWU to his list. – The Mirror.

Are we nearly there yet? … the kids get tetchy

The Left-wing backbench MP dismissed David and Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham, the four former cabinet ministers who are all vying against her for the Labour crown, saying that they could not connect with the public. “We’re not going to be able to engage with society and, particularly, engage young people in politics, if they see the political class as a caste apart, a strange sort of geeky young men in suits,” she said. – The Telegraph.

She said it was amazing how the four were now disowning the decisions that they supported when they were in government. “You wouldn’t believe to hear them that they were at the heart of the New Labour project for at least a decade. Whether or not they were MPs or not, they were at the heart, they were working for one or the other of the two key people. They were members of cabinet for five years. And yet, at hustings after hustings, they tell you they disagreed with this, they disagreed with that, they don’t know why we did this, they don’t know why we did that … All this handwringing and pretending they weren’t there, that they weren’t at the heart of the project, is slightly amazing.” And she indicated that she did not believe Balls when he denied briefing against Tony Blair. – The Guardian.

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One Response to “Saturday News Review”

  1. AmberStar says:

    Diane Abbott seems to think her fellow candidates should’ve resigned from the cabinet when they personally disagreed with a cabinet decision. Strangely, she appears not to have felt the need to resign as a Labour MP & stand as an independent when in a similar situation. People in glass houses…. 😎

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