Posts Tagged ‘Peter Mandelson’

Yvette Cooper should teach the world to code

15/06/2015, 07:40:07 PM

by Jonathan Todd

James Forsyth recently branded the last Labour leadership election – the one that dragged through a summer, as this one will; the one that allowed the Tories to determine the terms of trade for a parliament, as this one may – “dull, dull, dull“. I don’t recall it being a laugh either. More importantly, it wasn’t a political success. It took an age and strengthened the Tories.

If that was a dreary, drawn-out failure, what is this? Farce springs to mind after the scramble to place Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot, but ultimately he will be irrelevant.

When seconded to the short lived Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), the resignation of James Purnell from the government, while I was on holiday, precipitated the absorption of DIUS into Peter Mandelson’s Department of Business – a reward for keeping the Gordon Brown show on the road – and the DIUS Secretary of State, John Denham, was shuffled across to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Detached from supportive ministers, it became easier for sceptical officials to conclude my secondment. Nonetheless, something – disappointing in ending my secondment, yet educational in opening my eyes to Whitehall – happened.

On Wednesday, when I’ll be in the air somewhere between Birmingham and New Jersey, as the first televised hustings of the leadership election occur, I hope my absence again coincides with something politically significant. Anything. Because we have a leadership election consumed by the narcissism of small differences between the main candidates who are failing to convince their parliamentary colleagues (Uncut has endured several moans about the calibre of the race) and their party, while leaving the wider public even colder. Dull, dull, duller.


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What has changed on the deficit since general election 2010?

07/01/2015, 08:31:55 AM

by Jonathan Todd

This is the first of a series of pieces from Uncut on what has changed in respect of key political issues since the last general election. Looking over this timescale, we hope to distinguish the signal from the noise; what really matters from the day-to-day froth.

Liverpool played Burnley away on Boxing Day. The last time that happened was just before the 2010 general election when Rafa Benitez managed Liverpool. Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish both did so between Benitez and the current reign of Brendan Rodgers. Hodgson’s tenure coincided with the near bankruptcy of one of the world’s great sporting institutions. Enter John Henry, deus ex machina. This American has invested in the club stadium and playing squad, including in Luis Suarez, who brought both disgrace and nearly a Premier League title. Life is easier off the pitch and harder on the pitch sans Suarez. Fans yearn to be made to dream again. And will soon have to hope to do so without talisman Steven Gerrard.

In summary, much has happened at Liverpool since the last general election. Soon after which, I wrote my first piece for Uncut on ‘the emerging politics of deficit reduction’. Since when, as much as politics feels like a rollercoaster, these politics have changed remarkably little. Around the time that piece was published, Peter Mandelson was fighting for airtime by launching his memoirs.

We would not convince the country, Mandelson conceded on the deficit, that the Tories were going too far unless we convinced them that we would go far enough. That reflection on the 2010 election exactly parallels the advice that both myself and Samuel Dale have recently given Labour’s current campaign. I called for ‘Don Miliband’ to show himself, Sam for a ‘carpe deficit’ moment. The terminology doesn’t matter, the point is the same. Mandelson returned to the debate before Christmas to make a similar point in a speech to a Progress and Policy Network conference. Labour, Mandelson advised, will only get a hearing on ‘what will the effect be on society and the economy?’ if we are clear on ‘how much must we cut public spending?’


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The party machines might not know it yet but political parties are dying

13/12/2012, 07:00:31 AM

by Peter Watt

Political parties are strange constructs where by necessity a coalition of views is encapsulated under one brand.  So you have the campaign group and Progress all sharing the Labour banner or left leaning Lib Dems sharing a party with the orange bookers and so on.

To put it even more colourfully, it means that Frank Field and Jeremy Corbyn can share the same political colours!  While there will be some shared world views of course and certainly a degree of shared culture and history, actually it is often more of a case of “vive la difference” or “damn your principles and stand by your party” depending on your view or current mood!  And the reason for this is that it is important for two very good reasons.

Firstly, when it comes to elections voters are offered a relatively easy to consume and unified approach from a small group of potential political alternatives.  Debates around the direction of travel and then the detail of policy happen within the parties in order that common policy stances can be offered to the public.

And secondly, that there is a reasonable chance of a stable administration being formed after the votes are counted.

There are other benefits of course.  Political parties have been excellent institutions at identifying and developing potential future political representatives.   They also allow a forum and focus for the discussion and development of policy positions as the wider environment changes.  All of this relies on party discipline and a desire for unity to work; and the system has generally served the country well for many years.  And at election times people have voted for their preferred party rather than their preferred candidate.

But slowly such certainties are changing.


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These days the attack dogs are too nice. Where’s the modern Peter Mandelson?

09/11/2011, 07:30:56 AM

by Dan Hodges

Michael Dugher is not the new Peter Mandelson. We know this because last week Dugher told us so.

He didn’t just come out and issue a bald statement to that effect, obviously. That would just have been plain odd:

“Which senior former Labour politician aren’t you going to be tonight Michael”?

“Well, tonight Matthew I’m not going to be Peter Mandelson”.

No, the new shadow minister without portfolio was responding to a tweet from  “eyespymp”, the voyeuristic web site that tracks and broadcasts the movement of our Parliamentary representatives as the go about their daily lives.

According to our eyespy eavesdropper, Dugher was overheard “telling someone he’s going to be ‘Ed’s Mandelson’”. To which the member for Barnsley East responded with a characteristically blunt: “Load of bollocks. I’m currently at home with my kids”.

The kids’ gain is Labour’s loss. A new Peter Mandelson is exactly what we need. A Prince of darkness. Master of the dark arts.

Ed’s got lots of masters of the pastel-coloured arts. Tom Baldwin is an accomplished spinner. But he’s not a real attack dog. He tries. He affects a kick ass, access denied, off the guest list, card marked, co-operation withdrawn, lead-lined boots demeanor. But his heart’s really not in it. He’d hate anyone to know it, but he’s actually quite nice.

Then there is Stewart Wood, another shadow minister without portfolio, who is Ed’s “political mastermind”. Wood has a sharp mind, and a few tricks up his sleeve. He’s got a reputation in Westminster for being a straight shooter. Though if he has to, he knows how to bend the odd bullet round the wall. But he’s also got a serious flaw. Again, he’s quite nice. In an interview he gave to Suzie Mackenzie, Gordon Brown’s biographer, Mackenzie recounts:

“Wood acknowledged that the routine rudeness – the ‘just Gordon’ behaviour – had begun to trouble him. It became ‘more important’ after Brown became prime minister. He suggested that the ‘apologies’ they made for Brown had gone on too long. ‘How you deal as an individual with human beings is a core part of the job’, he said”.

How you deal with human beings? That’s all very good. But it’s hardly Prince of Darkness material is it?


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New source documents attached to Mandelson new ebook

24/09/2011, 12:56:17 PM

On Monday the world will be told (by publishers, Harper Collins) about the ebook version of Peter Mandelson’s The Third Man, which includes copies of original letters and minutes, audio commentary and video footage. Political memoirs and signings are the standard fare of conference season. But the new and improved The Third Man ebook is not standard. It is deluxe. Or, at least, many of the source materials have genuine curiosity value.

The Dark Lord’s actual handwriting, as those historic events swirled around us, is almost enough, at times, to send a shiver.

In one handwritten note, to Tony Blair on 3 May 1997, simply entitled “my job” he writes “I just beg you to set me up in a job in which I am neither an ornament not a cork bobbing, misinformed and ineffective, in the government machine”. [Memo to TB on position in new government]

Later in the same memo, he asks that in the job he is given he should “support Alistair, and front for him, but (that) I am not portrayed in any way as a “spin doctor”.

And in another note, written between Christmas and New Year of 1995, reflecting on the death of John Smith he writes:

“It was assumed that one of the modernisers, Brown or Blair, would become leader and it was clear from Gordon’s tone which one he thought it would be”.

He, Blair and Brown, he says “were like the three musketeers”. [John Smith’s death and leadership contest]

And we see the famous lines: “We were elected as New Labour and will govern as New Labour. TB to see. Line to take”, dated 2 May 1997. [Final campaign note to Tony Blair]

Uncut understands that Peter Mandelson will be available to sign your kindle or iPad in the lobby of the Jury’s Inn on Tuesday afternoon. He’s behind you.

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Economic rebalancing: Labour must be “more interesting”

24/06/2011, 02:29:37 PM

by Jonathan Todd

The Labour front bench might not welcome advice from retirees, no matter how dignified. But they’ve got some. “Be a little bit more interesting”, said Peter Mandelson, in response to a question at a recent Progress event. National recovery from the major economic crisis of recent years requires big, bold ideas. He wants Labour to rise to this challenge.

This is the stuff of pragmatic radicalism on economic rebalancing. Pragmatism demands workable solutions to national concerns. The support that politicians, of all parties, proclaim for rebalancing the economy indicates that this is such a concern. The persistence of the imbalances in our economy – between domestic consumption and exports; finance and manufacturing; the south east of England and much of the rest of the UK – attest that this support is inadequate to purpose. A dash of radicalism is needed, for not only rebalancing to be achieved, but for Labour’s arguments to cut through the white noise of mainstream politicians professing support and delivering so little.

Many more elected city mayors are the stuff of this radicalism. Our top heavy state is a drag on economic performance. Elected city mayors are the next step on the devolution journey begun by the last government. The centre for cities and the institute of government recently called for their powers to be beefed up – through, amongst other things, chairing integrated transport authorities and co-chairing local enterprise partnerships. The common sense of people in cities voting for their leaders and retaking command of their destinies should be a truth loudly proclaimed by Labour – as should be the common sense of rewarding hard work. (more…)

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Mandelson: the great returner

23/06/2011, 05:08:47 PM

by Dave Talbot

Moments after the close of the first debate of the general election, Lib Dem officials were breathlessly rushing around the Granada studios in Manchester. They were hailing their leader’s performance as a potential “game-changer” in an election that had seemingly been thrown wide open. I had travelled up north, more in hope than expectation that Gordon Brown would defy all his critics and speak in Shakespearian tones that would galvanise the nation. It was not to be. Somewhat bored and slightly tired, I turned to a Spanish journalist next to me:

“Nick Clegg did well”, I ventured.

“He has been like a gift from God for me”, he replied in his Catalonian tones. “There was no interest in the election before, none. But now Mr and Mrs Clegg will be on the front page. The Spanish people still fantasise that five hundred years after the Armada we are finally going to put a Spanish catholic woman in Number 10”.

“Probably not”, I replied. “Who had the Spanish press found the most to write about thus far”, I asked?

“Well Clegg, of course. But my favourite is Mr Mandelson. He is the most grotesque character”.


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Wednesday News Review

22/06/2011, 06:57:54 AM

Please no return to the bad old days

Several hundred people gathered near interfaces close to the Newtownards Road. There were reports that three shots had been fired and a photographer had been shot in the leg. Michael Copeland, a member of the Ulster Unionist Assembly, said missiles had been hurled between the opposing sides. Police were also attacked with petrol bombs and stones. A major riot on Monday night in which police were shot at by loyalists in Northern Ireland was blamed on the Ulster Volunteer Force yesterday, despite the paramilitary group being on ceasefire. Before last night’s violence, political leaders appealed for calm. On Monday, about 500 people were involved in disturbances when there was hand-to-hand fighting and petrol bombs were thrown. Police said there were gun shots from the republican Short Strand area, while loyalists also opened fire. UVF members were blamed for starting the violence by attacking homes in the Roman Catholic enclave. – Daily Telegraph

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have condemned the riots, as well as a separate bomb attack aimed at police in west Belfast. Mr Robinson said: “At this time when many are working hard to build a better and brighter future for all in Northern Ireland, it is disappointing and deeply concerning to see this level of violence return to our streets. We have given clear commitments to continue to deliver progress for all within the community including in those areas most at need. This type of behaviour damages the local economy and unfairly mars the reputation of the community.” Mr McGuinness said: “A small minority of individuals are clearly determined to destabilise our communities. They will not be allowed to drag us back to the past. I call on all those involved to take a step back and to remain calm. I support the efforts of community leaders on all sides who have been working on the ground to restore calm in east Belfast.” The sudden upsurge in violence is being described as the worst the city has seen in years and loyalist community workers blamed simmering tensions at the notorious sectarian interface. – Belfast Telegraph

Cameron’s tough stance in tatters

Mr Cameron’s promise of automatic six-month sentences for anyone using a knife to intimidate or threaten also falls far short of his election pledge to jail anyone caught with a blade. But there was a bigger shock buried in the fine print of the reforms as it emerged that more than 3,000 criminals and suspected offenders will avoid jail each year as part of the Conservative-led coalition’s package. About 1,300 would have been jailed on remand but will now remain at liberty until their case is tried in a bid to save money. Around 250 ex-cons who would currently be put back in jail each year for reoffending or breaking the terms of their release will also be allowed to stay at large. Up to 800 foreign criminals will be freed early or let off with a caution on the condition that they go home, raising fears they could simply slip back into the country. Mr Cameron was desperate to talk tough yesterday after an internal Downing Street poll showed that the sentencing U-turn row has destroyed public faith in the Tories’ ability to tackle crime. – Daily Mirror

Ed’s message to Murdoch

Ed Miliband has told business leaders that Labour wants a “strong relationship” with them but there must be “responsibility” on pay at the top. The Labour leader told the Times CEO Summit in London: “I want to celebrate wealth creation in this country.” But he said there was an “issue about rewards at the top” while people on lower incomes had seen wages stagnate. He also backed his shadow chancellor Ed Balls’s call for a temporary VAT cut to help boost the economy. But he said scrapping the 50p top rate of income tax – paid on earnings over £150,000 – was “not a priority for us”. Mr Miliband addressed an audience including News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch and chief executives of Goldman Sachs, Santander and Vodafone, among others. – BBC News

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for “responsibility” on pay from those at the top of society as he addressed a summit of business leaders in London. Mr Miliband said Labour wanted a “strong relationship” with business and promised there would be “no going back to the penal tax rates of the 1970s” if he won power. But he warned that the credibility of the free enterprise system was under threat if middle and lower-income workers see their living standards stagnate while the richest continue to enjoy ever-increasing wealth. Speaking at The Times CEO Summit to an audience including News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch and chief executives of companies such as Goldman Sachs, Santander and Vodafone – as well as Lord Mandelson, who famously said New Labour was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich” – Mr Miliband warned that there was “an issue about rewards at the top” in Britain. – Daily Mirror

Labour Lords take on Clegg’s plans

Nick Clegg’s plans to create an elected House of Lords suffered a big setback last night when Labour vowed to oppose the shake-up and peers from all parties lined up to attack it. Labour was accused of playing politics as it rejected Liberal Democrat pleas to set aside the differences between the two parties to force through Mr Clegg’s proposal for the first elected peers to be chosen in 2015. The Coalition Government wants the 828-member House replaced by 240 elected members, 60 appointed crossbenchers, 12 bishops and a small number of appointed ministers. But Labour favours a 100 per cent elected second chamber. The Deputy Prime Minister has led the charge for Lords reform. Although David Cameron has backed the change, there are doubts that the Conservatives will devote the energy and Parliamentary time needed to force through Mr Clegg’s Bill before the next general election against strong opposition in both Houses of Parliament. – the Independent

Mandelson shows his support

Ed Miliband needs to show more courage as a leader if he is to unite the Labour party behind him, Peter Mandelson has suggested. Speaking at a meeting of the Labour pressure group Progress, the former first secretary of state warned his party against returning to the infighting which characterised the Labour party during the 1980s. He said: ‘We need to take a few risks; talk more directly to the country; be more innovative and courageous. Our leader is a leader of the country, not of the party’s sections and factions, and it is to the country he needs to be given the space to prove himself.” Lord Mandelson’s support comes despite his backing of David Miliband during the Labour leadership election. –

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The week Uncut

26/02/2011, 12:30:25 PM

In case you missed them, these were the best read pieces on Uncut in the last seven days:

Peter Watt thinks our brand’s toxic and we should learn from the Tories

Atul Hatwal brings you the latest shadow cabinet work rate league table

Coach Kevin Meagher is leaving David Miliband on the subs bench, for good

Tom Watson says we must remember the name Mohamed Bouazizi

Peter Mandelson on why there should have been a Granita II

Rob Marchant on faith schools and why a bad idea just got worse

Stefan Stern says Cameron has failed the leadership test

Dave Howells is not happy seeing the sacred cow go off to slaughter

Dan Hodges gets cross with the preachers of  “fairer votes”

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Exclusive extracts from the paperback edition of Peter Mandelson’s book, the Third Man.

25/02/2011, 08:00:03 AM

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.

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