Tuesday News Review

The gift that keeps on giving


The leaders of Labour‘s general election campaign believed their party was “fucked” six months before Gordon Brown fired the starting gun in April, Lord Mandelson has revealed. In the latest instalment of his memoirs, the former business secretary says that three senior members of the cabinet joked last October that Labour should fight a campaign based on three Fs: Futile, Finished, and Fucked. – The Guardian

The peer criticised the “unbridled contempt” of some of Mr Brown’s allies – taken as a reference to Mr Whelan and Ed Balls – for Mr Blair. Mr Balls, now a candidate for the party leadership, said yesterday it was incorrect to say he had briefed against fellow Labour MPs over the past decade. In a BBC interview he said: “Are there times when I was in my late 20s, 15 years ago, where… we were sort of youthful and exuberant and a bit arrogant? Almost certainly the case, but we all grew up.” – The Western Mail


Clearly annoyed by Lord Mandelson’s actions, leadership candidate Ed Miliband, who served in cabinet with him, said: “One of the lessons for Labour is we do need to move on from some of the psychodramas of the past, some of the factionalism that there was.” The most important lesson to be learnt from the memoirs, said Mr Miliband, was that the party would be “profoundly wrong” to believe that it lost the election because of its most senior personalities, rather than its policies. “We began as the party of the windfall tax on privatised utilities and the minimum wage in 1997. We ended up – despite doing great things – as the party defending bankers’ bonuses and pushing forward ID cards,” said Mr Miliband. – The Irish Times


A senior Labour politician has launched a scathing attack on Lord Mandelson, saying the former Cabinet minister should compensate the party for the damage his memoirs are likely to cause. Ian Davidson, the new chairman of the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, said Mandelson should donate the proceeds from his explosive tell-all memoirs to the party. The MP also said that the television advertisements for the book, in which the former Business Secretary wears a smoking jacket and a cravat, proved he had always been egotistical and self-serving. – The Herald

I mentioned to Miliband how Mandelson now says he’d like to serve again in a Labour government. Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham have both ruled out an unprecedented third return to the front bench for Baron Mandelson of Foy but David Miliband would only say: “I’m not giving out jobs…It would be presumptuous for me to start doling out jobs in the shadow cabinet, never mind in the cabinet. Of all the things I’m worried about in the future of the Labour party, [I’m not worried about] whether or not Peter Mandelson will be in the next cabninet.” But then he added this clever disclaimer: “By then I’d like to have an elected House of Lords so we only have elected politicians in the cabinet.” – The New Statesman

Balls backs away from Labour deficit plan

In an interview with the BBC News Channel, Mr Balls said: “Halving the deficit in four years by cutting public spending… I think was a mistake. “In government at the time in 2009 I always accepted collective responsibility, but at the time in 2009 I thought the pace of deficit reduction through spending cuts was not deliverable, I didn’t think it could have been done.” – The BBC

By acknowledging the deficit reduction programme set out by Darling and Co. was an economic mistake, he gives himself the real possibility of setting out a vision of Labour’s political economy for his proposed leadership which is entirely distinctive to his rivals. Both Miliband D and Burnham A have spoken out in favour of Labour’s previous commitments, and neither Miliband E or Abbott A have yet given any indication that they are willing, or indeed able, to do proper economics as part of their campaign. He needs, though to act quickly, to follow this initial statement through with some proper economic analysis and plan for the future. – Though Cowards Flinch

The latest move frees up Balls to mount a more aggressive attack on coalition spending plans when cuts are announced in the autumn’s comprehensive spending review. Though the party is now in opposition, Balls’s comments indicate that if elected Labour leader in September he will take the party further away from coalition cuts and more in line with those who believe money should not be withdrawn from the economy too soon. – The Guardian

The Candidates

Every time I hear one or other Miliband on the wireless they are wittering on about “values” – their values, Labour’s values. Who, beyond speakers at a Saturday morning Fabian conference, actually speaks like that in public? There must, surely, be a chance that significant numbers of Labour activists and trade unionists will make the same observation and, deciding that at least Balls is a figure determined to wage war on the Tories, vote for him to be leader? But if that happens the party would be hitching its wagon to a new economic policy (or variation on an old Brownite theme of “investment”), and much else in the way of Brown-Blair style factional warfare besides. It would be taking an enormous gamble. – Wall Street Journal

Ed Balls approached the despatch box, his burly, overgrown body oozing malice – the school bully sizing up the school nerd. Gove is ever so slight, his weedy body quite incapable of threatening the shadow secretary of state for education. Even if he could, he couldn’t take on his whole posse. Behind Balls sat the second-in-command, Tom Watson, whose gigantic body funnelled blood into a startlingly shrivelled-up face when he launched a violent tirade against Gove last week. “You’re a miserable little pipsqueak,” – Politics.co.uk

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