The Socialist Unity Network

Mandelson back in the limelight.

Jim Jepps

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 principles.

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 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.

Mandelson Labour 22,506 59.1%
Robinson Conservative 7,935 20.9%
Boddy Lib Dem 5,717 15.0%
Scargill Socialist Labour 912 2.4%

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 while.

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.

July 2004


For Socialist Unity ~ For Internationalism ~ For Peace ~ For Justice ~ For Unity ~ For Socialism