Mandy's memoirs

I have just finished Peter Mandelson’s memoir. It suffers from neither being a good diary – immediate, waspish and unselfconscious - like that of Alan Clark, nor a memoir that has the benefit of time, consideration and perhaps wisdom. Instead it falls into the self-serving tedium of the minutia of the behind-the-scenes maneuverings of the political tribe. Its objective was, presumably, to prove, after all the gossip and backbiting, that New Labour was a serious political movement.

Does it?

What has hit the headlines is the dysfunctional relationship between Blair and Brown. Mandelson’s description leaves one amazed that Blair was so weak that he was unable to sack his insubordinate and destructive chancellor. Also that he was so irresponsible that he could promise to hand over the keys to No 10 to a man he knew was unsuited to the highest office - and then be mendacious enough to renege on the deal. I’ve always been a Blair admirer – but that is shaken by the portrait that Mandelson paints albeit, I think, unintentionally.

Or maybe Blair was simply politically weak. Maybe, he simply didn’t have the political roots and backing to face down the consequences of the sort of bloodletting that Macmillan practiced in 1962. Maybe, despite all of Mandelson’s efforts to paint a picture of a lasting political legacy, New Labour was only a will o’the wisp; a faction that ultimately signified little in the sound and fury of the grand Labour story. It is interesting that none of the candidates for the Labour leadership ever willingly mention the words ‘New’ or ‘Blair’.

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