James Forsyth

Mandelson’s miscalculation

Mandelson's miscalculation
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Peter Mandelson’s decision to support Gordon Brown right to the end enabled him to cease being a purely factional figure in the Labour party. The multiple standing ovations he received at the last Labour conference were a recognition of that. As he put it, he was now the prince of stability not darkness. It was easy to see how Mandelson could become one of the elder statesmen of the party.

But The Third Man has thrown all this away. Mandelson is once more a highly factional figure. He has admitted that he wouldn’t have stopped his Cabinet colleagues toppling Brown if they could have and that Labour would have done better at the election under a different leader.

So low has Mandelson’s standing fallen that David Miliband—who, as The Times points out, is one of the few people that Mandelson has protected in the book—has sister souljahed him. He has said that, ‘Memoirs come after retirement, not before—and in any case we need an elected House of Lords.’ In other words, Mandelson would not be selected as a Labour candidate for the House of Lords under his leadership. (Though, I think the Coalition might help Mandelson out here by grandfathering in all existing peers).

While Ed Miliband use his interview with The Times to mock Mandelson: ‘Peter is a very complex person, he has good sides to him and I’m not going to be personally acrimonious. I have never knowingly been on a shooting party or a yacht with a Russian oligarch but what people do with their lives is a matter for them.’

Mandelson is, as he so famously said, a ‘fighter not a quitter.’ But it is hard to see how he wins his way back into the affections of the party he loves after deciding to publish and be damned.’