The paperback edition of Peter Mandelson’s book, the Third Man: life at the heart of New Labour, is published on Monday. It contains a new chapter dealing with events since the hardback was first published last summer.
The new chapter includes Mandelson’s thoughts on Ed Miliband’s victory, the impact of the new government and the AV campaign, among other ruminations of the former cabinet minister, EU commissioner and prince of darkness.
In the extracts below, published exclusively here on Uncut for the first time, he talks about David Miliband’s failure to “take the gloves off and mobilise” Labour’s natural New Labour base.
And he rues David Miliband’s refusal to do the deal with Ed Balls that Mandelson says would have secured a David Miliband victory.
Mandelson on why David Miliband lost…
[David] was fearful that if he championed a renewed New Labour vision too strongly, he would be living up to Ed’s stereotype of him as an establishment figure tied to Tony’s coat-tails. He ended up in something of a no-man’s land – wanting to be the New Labour standard-bearer, but terrified that this would lose him many activists’ votes. He did defend New Labour’s achievements when his brother started to single out a number of them for criticism. But I felt then, and still feel, that he missed an opportunity to take the gloves off and mobilise those in the broader party membership who still celebrated our three terms in Downing Street – and who would have followed a leader with a plan to update and reinvigorate our governing programme rather than bury it. (p.xxii)
Mandelson on why Ed Balls could have made a difference…
David and I did not speak during the campaign… I understood and respected his desire to go it alone, although in a roundabout way I did pass on one suggestion. It was that he should reach out to the other Ed: Ed Balls. I had come to know Ed Balls – and in our later years in government to respect him – as a tough, pragmatic politician. I was certain his overriding concern would be to ensure that Labour escaped being relegated to another long spell in opposition. Tactically, there was an obvious interest for him and David, two political heavyweights able to balance their respective strengths, to work together. Although it was fairly clear from the start that Ed Balls was not going to win, he did have significant support to deliver. I knew Gordon would be leaning hard on him to throw this support behind Ed Miliband, since his distrust and resentment of David’s previous on-off leadership challenge had never abated. A concerted effort by David to forge a future leadership alliance with Ed Balls might well have allowed him to carry the day. David was not persuaded, however, both because he did not want to be placed under any obligation to Ed, and because, until the end, he felt he had enough strength on his own to win. (p.xxiii)
The paperback edition of Peter Mandelson’s book, the Third Man: life at the heart of New Labour, is published by HarperPress on Monday.