Mandelson: On leadership

18th July, 2010 9:26 am

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 Campaign round-up: Five days to go

    Campaign round-up: Five days to go

    It’s five days until voters go to the polls – here’s a quick look at how the elections are shaping up across the country. Quote of the Day Sadiq Khan lays out how he will tackle anti-Semitism as Mayor in Jewish News: I will always protect communities whose beliefs and practices attract the inexplicable hostility of others, and I’ll get to grips with religious hate crimes. I’ll make tackling hate crimes a far higher priority for the Metropolitan police, and […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Corbyn launches anti-Semitism action plan – but Ken blames row on “embittered old Blairites”

    Corbyn launches anti-Semitism action plan – but Ken blames row on “embittered old Blairites”

    Jeremy Corbyn has revealed he is launching an action plan to deal with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, while Ken Livingstone has attempted to play down allegations, accusing “embittered old Blairites” of whipping up the storm in an attempt to get rid of Corbyn. In further developments, the chairman of the Israeli Labour Party has written to Corbyn to say he is “appalled and outraged” by recent examples of anti-Semitism in Labour, while 80 Jewish party members have put their names to […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Defence review closes as Woodcock’s rival enquiry ramps up

    Defence review closes as Woodcock’s rival enquiry ramps up

    The deadline for member submissions to Labour’s defence review expires this weekend amid claims that an unofficial parallel party enquiry is gaining more traction with MPs. Emily Thornberry, shadow Defence Secretary, is leading the official review, which launched in January amid controversy that Ken Livingstone would be co-convenor. Livingstone was moved to co-convene the Labour foreign policy review, a role he is unlikely to continue in following this week’s suspension. The process has hit further snags, with MPs raising concerns […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Europe Featured Uncategorized Dear Jeremy… please speak up again and again for Britain’s place in Europe, a former British ambassador writes

    Dear Jeremy… please speak up again and again for Britain’s place in Europe, a former British ambassador writes

    Dear Mr Corbyn – or may I, a non-Corbynista, call you Jeremy? I am one of the many Labour party members and supporters, including your critics, who unreservedly applauded your big speech on 14 April setting out Labour’s powerful case for Britain remaining in the EU. You were right to draw a sharp distinction between the Labour and Tory arguments for staying in, including your striking health warning that following Brexit our right-wing government would make a bonfire of the EU’s hard-won protections for workers’ […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Ken Livingstone is a pariah and must be expelled from Labour

    Ken Livingstone is a pariah and must be expelled from Labour

      Ken Livingstone is finished in the Labour Party. His bizarre Hitler rant has succeeded in uniting Corbynista and centrist Labour MPs, as well as the entirety of the mainstream press, in condemnation. He has been suspended and will surely be expelled. For many in the Labour Party, it cannot come soon enough. Livingstone has disgraced himself one time too many and, if he is bowing out, it will be with perhaps his most toxic intervention yet. His comments about […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit