Why are Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear apart Labour?


by Sunny Hundal    
8:45 am - September 20th 2010

      Share on Tumblr

Peter Mandelson has popped up in the Guardian again this morning, criticising Ed Miliband for producing a “crowd-pleasing Guardianista” election manifesto that “offered nothing to people worried about immigration, housing and welfare scroungers”.

It seems that Lord Mandelson is intent on tearing apart the Labour party to get his man David Miliband into power – even if it means pushing such obvious horseshit.

There’s little point in getting into even debating whether the Labour manifesto was soft on immigration, housing and “welfare scroungers” – if Mandelson wanted to go further he could have simply nicked the Tory manifesto.

Aside from that I have a a few issues with Mandelson’s analysis.;

For one, the claim it was “crowd pleasing” is demonstrably false, as Matthew McGregor points out.

Secondly, it was so “Guardian friendly” that the newspaper decided to back the Libdems instead. There’s also no evidence that the manifesto only reached out to the ‘core vote’ – instead I recall Mandelson arguing against such a strategy.

Third, comrade Tom Miller has found this quote:

Cabinet minister Lord Mandelson described it as a “Blair plus” manifesto and denied Mr Brown had had to be converted to his predecessor’s public service reforms: “He invented New Labour with Tony Blair and myself and others.”

Funny how Mandelson is singing from a different hymn-sheet now. Tom is right that Labour needs less of these “tired, overexposed and evidently confused figures” and needs some fresh blood and fresh thinking.

And I doubt anyone is going to buy Mandelon’s pathetic attempt at re-writing history and absolving himself of any blame.

To briefly address the substantive point: I highly doubt Ed M alone wrote the manifesto. He has repeatedly said he disagreed with stances: on civil liberties (against ID cards, 42 days detention), on prison reform, on the environment (against the Third Runway), on deficit reduction (does not favour Alistair Darling’s plans, closer to Ed Balls) etc.

This gambit of throwing everything including the kitchen sink at Ed Miliband has become absurd to the point of destructive. If he wrote the manifesto why would he want to distance himself from it? And if the manifesto was that bad why would David Miliband claim that he was, “campaigning on the manifesto that we actually stood on.”

Do Labour establishment figures not realise that throwing around phrases like ‘red Ed’ and ‘he was soft on immigration’ make it harder for Labour to win the next election if Ed wins? Is it really worth annoying up to half the party for this? Why not let the candidates battle it out, or have a sensible discussion of policy differences?

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Labour party ,Westminster

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


“To briefly address the substantive point: I highly doubt Ed M alone wrote the manifesto. He has repeatedly said he disagreed with stances: on civil liberties (against ID cards, 42 days detention)”

Heh. He disagreed with them so much that he voted in favour of ID cards, including compulsory registration when applying for a passport, and in favour of *90* day detention, both when a backbencher. There is no evidence that Ed Miliband is anything other than a latecomer to these causes – possibly even just for purposes of this leadership campaign.

Amen to that Soho Politico!!
Spot-on…

Sunny, can you prove Ed M isn’t just a fake, saying anything to get elected now (much like Nick Clegg, as you might say)?

When you say, “highly doubt” that Ed Miliband wrote the manifesto where is your evidence of that? He seems to take responsibility here for it, actually more defensive reaction to it.

http://www.politics.co.uk/news/opinion-former-index/legal-and-constitutional/ed-miliband-i-have-regrets-over-labour-manifesto-$21383737.htm

@Soho Politico – That’s an important point. Labour people need to be very conscious of the extent to which their having their tummies tickled at the moment by people who want their votes. If Ed Miliband wins, centre-left people wanting to see an end to New Labour are going to have to be prepared to hold his feet to the fire on a range of issues, and counteract the considerable forces urging him to turn (back) towards the right.

btw, on Mandy, this from the story on the BBC website should be noted:

“…according to BBC political correspondent Iain Watson, Labour sources say Lord Mandelson was fully consulted on the contents of the manifesto and both he and then-Chancellor Alistair Darling had successfully argued for changes to it”.

Hmmnn.. “Mandelson Proclaims: New Labour Not Really Dead”

Must make you glad you joined the party eh Sunny? If only you had some quality candidates for the leadership capable of promoting a progressive radical agenda eh?

7. Manning The Pumps

Ed Miliband just came across like a child on Question Time. There is no way the public will take him seriously.

8. Terrible But True

‘Why are Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear apart Labour?’

What, other than as a belated service to the nation, in hope of a Phoenix of halfway competent balance and opposition in this country from what looks soon to be the funeral pyre of Sellotape and Blu-Tacked dogma and incompetence in the last throes of tearing itself apart with the ‘new leader election’, when not trotting out patronising tribal support ra-ra sound-bites or happy-clappy Coke commercial rallying calls?

If he wrote the manifesto why would he want to distance himself from it?

Is this a serious question? Because he is running as a “change candidate” (all candidates run as change candidates; it’s compulsory), he has to be able to demonstrate the ways in which he differs from the previous Govt. The fact that he was responsible for writing the manifesto is an obvious snag here, which means that he has to try and distance himself from it.

There’s a nice little parallel here with David Cameron, who was also responsible for the drafting of his party’s manifesto for an unsuccesful campaign and who also sought to distance himself from it when running for the leadership.

“offered nothing to people worried about immigration, housing and welfare scroungers”.

Isn’t it funny how (according to BNPlite) everything is somehow the fault of immigrants?

Well I say funny. Revolting is probably a more apt adjective.

@Manning The Pumps: I know what you mean about Ed M. He has this habit of sitting with his eyes preternaturally wide open until it’s his turn to speak, and his ostentatiously cufflinked shirt sleeves extend long past the end of his jacket sleeves, as if something’s the wrong size. He puts me in mind of an Oxford interview candidate. That said, David M was pretty rotten in the QT debate too.

Back on topic, it amazes me that Mandelson still thinks he has any sway over the Labour party.

Is there anyone left who cares what Mandelson says (apart from Mandelson), he flushed the final dregs of his authority away with those book adverts

Heh. He disagreed with them so much that he voted in favour of ID cards,

I have no idea why people still take voting records seriously. But if you’re going to run your politics simply by voting records – then go ahead and vote for Diane Abbott. And see where that gets you.

David: . If Ed Miliband wins, centre-left people wanting to see an end to New Labour are going to have to be prepared to hold his feet to the fire on a range of issues

This is true, and I said the same when I said he was my preferred candidate. In fact he won’t even be as left as many lefties hope, and isn’t the ‘red Ed’ he is caricatured as.

14. Terrible But True

‘I have no idea why people still take voting records seriously.’

There’s a lot to that.

But for any who are interested in what folk do vs. what they claim (and how often these diverge), there can be few better measures of the person in a democracy, surely?

@Sunny:

I have no idea why people still take voting records seriously. But if you’re going to run your politics simply by voting records – then go ahead and vote for Diane Abbott. And see where that gets you.

A few things on this. First, I think you missed the point. You originally suggested that EdM couldn’t have written the manifesto alone, because it was not in keeping with his own beliefs, e.g. on civil liberties. However, he seems to have had a bit of a Damascene conversion on civil liberties at some point.

Second, I don’t think people should never be allowed to get past their voting records. But the idea that they are not any kind of valuable indicator of what politicans believe, and how they can be expected to act, is pretty astonishing.

Third, I was a little bemused by the implication here that it does not do to follow the most consistently principled leftwing candidate, if what that means is sacrificing electability. Why not follow that reasoning where it leads, then, and support David Miliband, who we know from polls to be the most well-regarded candidate among the public?

@ SohoPolitico

Everyone knows that voting patterns are compromised by having to kowtow to the leadership. The choices are more subtle than you are making out – you are proposing a false dichotomy between high principle of Diane Abbott or pure electability with David Miliband (ignoring the problematic point of how useful present polls are with regards to DMil vs EMil’s electability in 5 years). You can have a compromise – especially when the electability difference between the two Milibands is likely to be so small.

David Miliband is defending the record and the manifesto. He is the living exception to Tim J’s assertion that everyone must be the change candidate. Ed Miliband appears to be tacking a little to the left and arguing for a break from the worst excesses of New Labour. It might not be totally sincere, as his voting record will not be totally sincere. But it is more of an indication of intention than voting records, which I suspect will be strikingly similar (maybe even exactly the same?) for all the non-Abbott candidates. Unless you want to go totally sceptical and ignore anything any of the candidates say on the grounds that they are electioneering…

David Miliband is defending the record and the manifesto. He is the living exception to Tim J’s assertion that everyone must be the change candidate.

This is of course correct. I was being slapdash and generalist. There is indeed a different candidate technique – the Hillary Clinton/David Davis/Gordon Brown technique. This way requires the candidate to assert that he (or she) is the inevitable winner of the coming contest, that he already has the avowed support of the majority, and that the smart choice is to submit to the inevitable and sign up. This worked so well for GB that he didn’t even have an opponent. Not so well for Davis and Clinton.

DM appears to be trying an approximation of this method.

In this thread I am mostly agreeing with Sunny, especially on the issue of voting records.

He voted for a third runway, despite it leaking at the time that he and notable others were fighting it in Cabinet.

Bering in government means that you sometimes vote in ways you don’t believe because you have an overall belief, perhaps as small as 51% or as large as 100, that the continuance of that particular government or leadership of it is a good thing, and a big priority.

If something so bad happens that you no longer feel that way, then you resign, like Cook, or Bevan, or Howe.

Going on voting records in leadership elections, which are basically big gaps in the long rule of the situation above, is ridiculous, and particularly ridiculous when you consider that being in governments with collective responsibility is one of the things that best helps a candidate win wider recognition and deeper support.

Concentrate not on what they do when they are held back by others, concentrate instead on what they would do with power if they have it, and who will be influencing them / holding them accountable if they do.

I’m going to do this again.

Does Mandelson’s attempt to tear the party appart by labelling Ed Miliband’s effort “crowd pleasing guardianista” stuff equate to Liberal Conspiracy trying to tear the party appart by labelling David Miliband enthrall to the Daily Mail, raight wing, and accusing his campaign of whatever-boating (some bad american term I can’t remember) ?

Cos other than a larger audience, I’m not sure if there is a difference – other than that Mandelson has gone less far and not in effect labelled Ed effectively a part of the enemy. (I still think this sort of intervention is wrong of course)

Mandelson and the “old guard” are determined to tear apart Labour because LOOK LOOK LOOK AT ME PAY ME ATTENTION I’M HERE I NEED ATTENTION WHY WON’T ANYONE LISTEN TO MY ADVICE ANY MORE BAWHAWHAW


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Why are Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear apart Labour? http://bit.ly/dq77WI

  2. Tam Chandler

    RT @libcon: Why are Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear apart Labour? http://bit.ly/dq77WI

  3. sunny hundal

    Why are Lord Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear the Labour party apart? http://bit.ly/dq77WI

  4. Phil Taylor

    RT @sunny_hundal: Why are Lord Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear the Labour party apart? http://bit.ly/dq77WI

  5. Claire Spencer

    Like children, they fear censure. RT @sunny_hundal: Why are Mandelson & the old-guard determined to tear Labour apart? http://bit.ly/dq77WI

  6. Little miss Gobby

    Why are Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear apart Labour? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/gvPzjyB via @libcon

  7. House Of Twits

    RT @sunny_hundal Why are Lord Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear the Labour party apart? http://bit.ly/dq77WI

  8. Dr Shibley Rahman

    RT @sunny_hundal Why are Lord Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear the Labour party apart? http://bit.ly/dq77WI

  9. AndySawford

    RT @sunny_hundal: Why are Lord Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear the Labour party apart? http://bit.ly/dq77WI > to sell books

  10. Soho Politico

    No mention here of Kinnock doing the same thing. RT @sunny_hundal Why is Mandelson determined to tear Labour apart? http://bit.ly/dq77WI

  11. Andy Sutherland

    RT @libcon: Why are Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear apart Labour? http://bit.ly/dq77WI

  12. Syed Choudhury

    RT @sunny_hundal Why are Lord Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear the Labour party apart? http://bit.ly/dq77WI

  13. The Old Politics

    Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear apart Labour? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/yDXEpEZ << Exactly. Doing Tory dirty work.

  14. Phil McDuff

    "Lord Mandelson is intent on tearing apart the Labour party to get David Milliband into power" http://bit.ly/bzfJWQ Please let it be so!

  15. Cary D Conover

    #teaparty #912 Why are Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear apart …: He has repeated… http://tinyurl.com/29lcnvs #LIBERTARIAN

  16. Ceri York

    RT @womeningvt Why are Lord Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear the Labour party apart? http://bit.ly/dq77WI

  17. blogs of the world

    'Why are Mandelson and the old-guard determined to tear apart Labour?' What, other than as… http://reduce.li/rbjxi2 #guard

  18. Media Activist » Blog Archive » Red Ed, Red Tops, and The People Vs Themselves

    [...] agree with. In fact, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, and Peter Mandelson had significant influence over how it was written – as evidence by how much Ed has expressed difference of opinion to [...]

  19. Jane Watkinson

    @RichardLoweUK Exactly & New Labour's three terms were Blairite! Don't naively think Ed wrote it alone without influence http://t.co/IgCN9sq





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.