Mandelson: On leadership

July 18, 2010 9:26 am

Author:

Share this Article

Third Man MandelsonBy Alex Smith / @alexsmith1982

On Friday morning, I was at a breakfast with Peter Mandelson and about 15 bloggers (no women, incidentally – not one). The breakfast was, of course, put on to coincide with the launch of Mandelson’s book, the Third Man. Anthony Painter has written a thorough review of the 90-minute discussion in full but since LabourList is currently focusing predominantly on the Labour leadership contest and the future, rather than the past, I wanted to concentrate just a little on what he said about that.

Although Mandelson reconfirmed that he will not endorse any candidate in this election, it is fairly commonly known, and was fairly evident on Friday, that his support is with David Miliband. But Mandelson had some interesting comments on the characteristics needed for leadership generally, and on the future direction of the party on the economy specifically:

“Acknowledging the deficit and providing alternatives is key to Labour’s credibility. At the general election, the media were not interested in reporting any of our attacks on the Tories or other initiatives until we had acknowledged the need for spending cuts. The next leader needs to take the party to a place that’s innovative, practical, relevant and therefore credible [on the economy].”

Perhaps, in that case, Labour should be looking to Chuka Umunna, who has today outlined four alternatives to the budget plans in an open letter to the Guardian. Chuka is without doubt one for the future.

Mandelson also remarked that Labour lost in part because Gordon Brown was unable to present himself in an effective way to the public. No big news there, but it was interesting to hear Mandelson compare Brown to Churchill as someone who was “a good war leader, who got us ably through the downturn” but “not for the peace”. Mandelson said:

“We had someone who was not well-equipped to fight the most presidential election in history. We had a fighter right on the button in policy terms, but he allowed himself to be tripped up by smaller things: communication, staffing, management, individual relations. That emotional intelligence, in engaging with the public, is so important.”

Mandelson would not be drawn when challenged as to whether David Miliband is the candidate who best fits that description, focusing instead on his record of experience as a minister.

Mandelson also remarked that “other candidates” in the leadership contest are very well qualified to be the next Labour leader and Prime Minister, while some are definitely not. I wonder who he meant..?

Comments are closed

Latest

  • News Polling Latest Ashcroft marginal polling shows UKIP could win top Labour target seats

    Latest Ashcroft marginal polling shows UKIP could win top Labour target seats

    Lord Ashcroft has released his latest polling of marginal Conservative-held seats where Labour are in second place – in other words, Labour’s top target seats. He last polled these fourteen seats in late May, and the results suggested that Labour would win thirteen of them. The latest fieldwork, however, shows a greater swing to UKIP, and not just from the Tories: they’re taking plenty of Labour votes too. Labour are now on course to win just eleven of the seats, with […]

    Read more →
  • Comment No child should be too hungry to learn

    No child should be too hungry to learn

    Universal healthy free school meals is a policy that has been pioneered by Labour and by Labour councils in Southwark, Hull, Newham, Islington and Durham. At the National Policy Forum (NPF) over the weekend, Labour’s policy for the General Election was thrashed out and during this a commitment was made to finding ways to extend this cross cutting policy. The consensus wording makes Labour’s current record and future ambitions on free school meals clear. Just over a year ago, the […]

    Read more →
  • News Cameron could be as bad as Putin, says former Cabinet minister

    Cameron could be as bad as Putin, says former Cabinet minister

    David Cameron risks comparisons with Russian President Vladimir Putin if he goes ahead with plans to allow Parliament to veto rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), according to former Attorney General Dominic Grieve. According to The Times (£), Cameron is reportedly planning to make the proposal a centrepiece of his Autumn conference speech, in an effort to win over Tory backbenchers and UKIP voters. Grieve has had a long-term opposition to the idea, with many suggesting it is […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Something amazing has happened to the Labour Party

    Something amazing has happened to the Labour Party

    Something amazing has happened to the Labour Party and we have all grown so accustomed to it already that we take it for granted and don’t even comment about it. The amazing occurrence is the sustained achievement of party unity, not just for a season or a year but for an entire parliamentary term. This was graphically illustrated over the last few days. First we had the National Policy Forum. A series of great battles were anticipated over key policies […]

    Read more →
  • News Photo: Miliband meets Obama at the White House

    Photo: Miliband meets Obama at the White House

    Here’s the official White House photo of Miliband’s meeting with president Obama at the White House earlier today. Far from a “brush-past”, it looks (from this photo at least) like the two had a serious sit down meeting. As for the imagery – Miliband and his team will be pleased this is what the White House have put out, with the President reaching out a hand to the Labour leader: You can read what the two men talked about here.

    Read more →