Peter Hoskin

When Mandelson can’t launch a convincing counterattack, you know things are bad for Labour

When Mandelson can't launch a convincing counterattack, you know things are bad for Labour
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Whatever you might think of George Osborne's speech on progressive politics yesterday - and I have some doubts of my own - it's hard to take Peter Mandelson's Guardian article about it particularly seriously.  As Tim Montgomerie says over at ConservativeHome, there's little in there beyond personal attacks on Osborne and a caricature of the Tory position, all underpinned by the insistent claim that progressive ends can only be delivered by Labour means.  For someone who lambasted the media for not "not talking about policy" in his interview with the Guardian on Monday, it's a rather poor show.

But, worst of all for Labour, is that Mandy's position is confused and inconsistent.  I mean, take this sentence, which must rank among the messiest he's ever penned:

"Their talk of public sector reform – which has never been more vital – is simply code for cuts."

Attacking a party for proposing something which you admit "has never been more vital" is hardly the smartest rhetoric.  But to wrap up it in clumsy, Brownite perjoratives about "cuts", when the public appreciate the need for spending cuts, is simply swimming against the political tide.

It all rather reminds me of another confused article by Mandy from a few months ago, which I cited at the time as an example of how even this seasoned spinmaster couldn't sell Brown's dying premiership.  In the end, the Tories should be heartened by Mandelson's angry intervention today: it shows that they have him riled, but - more importantly - it also shows that he's struggling to come up with any answers.