Sunday, October 05, 2008

A whiff of sulphur

Regular transatlantic reader of this blog Paul Cain has asked me via the comments for my thoughts on the return to frontline UK politics of Peter Mandelson. I gather from Paul's comments ("a day of infamy") that he's less than impressed.

Certainly large swathes of the right-wing press have been reacting rather like a maiden aunt who's been goosed by the gardener.

For me, I thoroughly welcome the return of one of the "big beasts" of the New Labour project. Let's not forget Mandelson was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing in the investigation into his second Cabinet resignation. And unlike Jeffrey Archer, to whom Paul compares him, he's hardly been cooling his heels at Her Majesty's Pleasure since - in fact he's been a highly effective and respected Trade Commissioner at the EU.

I suppose we should have seen this coming since Conference. The visceral loyalty displayed there to the Prime Minsiter was led by some highly unexpected figures - not only was Mandelson sitting in the front row for Gordon's speech, but on the fringe 'blasts from the past' like Alistair Campbell and Derek Draper were beating the drum not only for party loyalty, but also taking the fight back to the Tories.

There's an excellent summary of the history of the Brown/Mandelson 90's feud by Andrew Rawnsley in today's Observer. At the end of the day, however, Mandelson in political terms is a strategic and tactical genius - anyone who needs reminding of the crucial role he played in the early days on New Labour should have a look at the excellent Soundbites and Spin Doctors by Nick Jones, which covers the period.

There's an argument in politics for taking the steps that your enemies would wish you didn't. If I was David Cameron this morning, I'd be a little less smug about my party's prospects at the next election.


Paul Cain, New York said...

Councillor: Credit to you for answering. Thanks.

You say he was cleared of wrongdoing over his second resignation. So what? He shouldn't have been back in government at all, after his first one.

What do you think of his first departure? 'A personal tragedy' as Labour politicians are wont to say when one of their own is caught with his pants around his ankles, or his fingers in the till?

Or, perhaps, a disgraceful exhibition of dishonesty, and one which should have disqualified the perpetrator from frontline politics for ever more?

You remember the amount he 'forgot' to mention on his mortgage application form, don't you? Three hundred and fifty three thousand quid.

Repeat: 353,000.

How many of your constituents, councillor, have been taken to court for claiming a few hundred, or a couple of thousand more than they should have in benefits?

But of course, the rules don't apply to Labour politicians.

Rules are for the little people, isn't that right, Councillor?

I see Gordon Brown is considering bringing David Blunkett back into the Cabinet.

Were his two resignations 'a personal tragedy', Councillor?

I'm just about old enough to remember the days when a politician quit for good. You remember the likes of John Profumo and how he reacted to his disgrace, and then you compare that to Messrs Mandelson and Blunkett...... and people like you wonder why fewer and fewer of us vote each election.

So much for Mr Brown's 'moral compass'.

And so much for yours, frankly.

I hope Haughton voters remember that (and anyone voting in the euro elections) when you next take to the ballot box.

Anonymous said...

Yep, there's no doubt Mandelson epitomises New Labour - lies, sleeze and all that is wrong with politics.

Anonymous said...

New labour are both tied to and subservient to big business and the super rich.
Is this really the Labour party that I voted for way back in 1997!!
I think not.
They have sadly lost my vote.


Paul Cain said...

An error in my post this morning (my time).

I said Mandelson 'forgot' to mention 353,000 quid on his application form.

In fact it was 373,000.

Still, what's 20 grand matter when you are 'intensely relaxed' about people getting super rich?

Ian W said...

It just shows how desperate NU-Labour are.

Talk about leading by example!