.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Labour in-fighting resumes

Today's Sunday Telegraph reports that Lord Mandelson is facing a bitter backlash from within Labour's ranks over the publication of his book, in which he lifts the lid on more than a decade of in-fighting at the top of his party:

Charlie Whelan, Mr Brown's former adviser, yesterday led the criticism of Lord Mandelson.

He said: "Peter ran the worst general campaign in Labour's history. Nobody knew what the message was at all. It was a disaster from beginning to end."

Mr Whelan, the political director of the Unite union, which is a major Labour donor, added: "Peter wasn't focused on the campaign at all. Clearly his only thoughts were for his book."

Another key ally of Mr Brown said: "Why on earth does Peter want to pick this moment to dredge up all this stuff from the past and divide the party again?

"We are just starting to hurt the Tories on cuts, we've got a leadership contest which is energising and unifying the party – and now this book comes out. It beggars belief."

With the first extracts of the book due to appear tomorrow – months before Mr Blair's – many Labour figures, including the party's acting leader, Harriet Harman, and Ed Balls, the shadow schools secretary, were nervously awaiting its contents.

Both were enemies of the peer at stages of their careers – although Lord Mandelson this weekend praised Mr Balls's qualities as a "leader".

In his interview, Lord Mandelson said Mr Brown had been "badly served" and added that Mr Blair had continuously had to fight off "an insurgency from next door" when he was at Number 10.

Lord Mandelson revealed that Mr Brown thought that he, Mr Blair and Lord Mandelson – New Labour's founding fathers – had "killed each other", such was the bitterness and intensity of the in-fighting.

Lord Mandelson admitted that relations between Mr Blair and Mr Brown had at times been "exceptionally bad".

Lord Mandelson, who said he would like to serve in a future Labour government in what would be an unprecedented third cabinet comeback, also appeared to level criticism directly at Mr Brown's record as prime minister for the first time – homing in on his attitude towards the deficit and planned cuts in state spending.

He said: "Where I think we made a mistake in government was in allowing ourselves to be characterised as indifferent to the deficit or in denial about the consequences as to what was happening in our public finances."

Of course, it could have been much worse, Mandelson might have published the book during Labour Conference as the new Leader makes his maiden speech. However, what I found the most interesting about this piece was the admission that Labour had got it wrong on the economy. Admittedly, it is couched in presentational terms, but it is only a small step away from owning up to the fact that Labour got it wrong in allowing a huge deficit to build up.
Isn't most of the upset in senior Labour ranks because Lord Mandelson has beaten the rest of the field to publication?
They got it wrong on the economy - you can say that again. That is why Labour should never be trusted with running (or ruining) the economy ever again.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?