Mandelson back in the limelight.
Just when you thought Blair's survived another one he goes and
invites a massive barrage of criticism.
Peter Mandelson is back in the lime light and already under fire,
having been recommended by the Prime Minister to hold the key European
job at just less than £3,000 a week.
When the news came on the radio at work the whole place just erupted
in jeers, disbelief and, frankly, some rather robust language. Peter
Mandelson, having been forced to resign from the cabinet twice in shall
we say rather dodgy circumstances is widely seen as the principle
architect of New Labour's massive shift to the right and ditching of old
He's seen as corrupt, a liar and a man more interested in his own
lifestyle than his political ideals. Typically he denied the story
to the BBC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/tees/3252815.stm until the
announcement was actually made (although some say this was because Blair
had hoped to place him back in cabinet and Tony's colleagues just would
not wear it).
Surprisingly on the radio phone in over the next day there were a
good number of people phoning into support Mr. Mandelson. They can't
have all been his Mum, or Blair putting on a voice - although it is not
unheard of for political organisations to urge their supporters to phone
in, perhaps that's why he seems to have radio support, because he
certainly doesn't have any on the ground.
One of the bizarre aspects of this appointment of possibly the most
distrusted men in Britain (oh yes, far more than Blair who at least has
not been caught in dodgy financial dealings) is that it is stunningly
damaging to Blair himself. This means that either Blair totally
misjudged people's hatred of the man (making him extremely out of touch)
or has decided he is invincible (in which case when the sticky end comes
there may be that delicious Thatcher moment when she was almost in tears
as she skulked out of number ten totally unbelieving "how could this
happen to me?")
The latter is the more likely.
Mandelson's departure to Europe means there will be a by election in
Hartlepool which the Lib Dems are already preparing for in their
customary highly organised fashion. If RESPECT chooses to stand here
they may be facing more of an uphill battle to win the excellent 12% in
the Leicester by election.
Not only is the charming Kilroy Silk of the UKIP stated that he will
stand, there is very little Muslim population to speak of (something
like 0.4%) The result last time (below) show that this Labour stronghold
will be difficult for them to lose, but previous experience shows that
when high profile MP's leave their seats other parties can win away what
was regarded as a safe area.
If RESPECT is to stand achieving 5% and getting the deposit back will
be a real victory, and this seat will be a high profile one due to the
previous incumbent's fame, therefore making the possibility well worth
One word of warning - there is likely to be a whole swathe of
minority candidates in this election and as yet RESPECT has not been
able to establish a process of unity to produce a single left candidate,
as Leicester showed. Whilst the left is not always reasonable and
willing to unite at times like these this puts the pressure on those of
us who believe in left unity to see what agreement can be achieved.
This by election will be high profile but votes may be hard to win in
this seat so this must be taken on in a serious way.