EXCLUSIVE: Mandelson on Ed Miliband

February 25, 2011 11:00 am

Third man paperbackOn Monday the paperback edition of Peter Mandelson’s “The Third Man” hits the shops, including a “revealing new chapter”. The fresh material covers Ed Miliband’s victory, the impact of the new government, the AV campaign and more.

Below you can read exclusive extracts – published for the first time on LabourList – on Mandelson’s worries after Ed Miliband’s “wafer thin” victory, his attack on the leadership election rules that gave “the deciding voice to union organisers” and how the new leader’s politics compare with New Labour, and Old Labour…

On why Ed Miliband won…

Ed’s simpler phrases – ‘I will never leave this party and its values behind’ – and his sense of youth, excitement and ‘new page’ promise, ignited his challenge. (p.xxiii)

On Ed Miliband winning…

It was a photo finish [and] I felt terrible for David. I felt even more worried for the party. This was not because I doubted Ed’s ability to become a strong or effective leader: he is a highly intelligent and thoughtful individual. It was because of the campaign message on which he had built his victory. It was left to Neil Kinnock, who had always found it hard to celebrate New Labour’s successes, to drive home this message. With their new leader’s triumph, he crowed, Labour’s old faithful had finally ‘got their party back’. If by that he meant our 1980s party, God only knew how, or when, we could hope to become a party of government again. Ed’s victory may have been wafer-thin, but he had played by the rules – even if the rules had ended up giving the deciding voice to union organisers, many of whose rank and file were not Labour Party members. And he had won. For lifetime Labour loyalists like me, that was all that mattered. Ed was our leader. He was my leader. I would do all I could to help make his leadership a success. (p.xxiv)

On Ed Miliband’s political outlook…

When Ed pronounced New Labour ‘dead’, he was not only being more categorical than was wise, but quite possibly more than he really intended. (xxi) …Even allowing for the tactical choices he had made in his bid to become leader, however, I was struck by the fact that he had given no strong clue during the campaign as to what alternative to New Labour he envisaged. He was quick to say what he was against: essentially, Tory policies and Tony’s policies. But he rarely said what he was for, apart from a belief in greater social mobility and equal chances in life for the young, more strategic government intervention in the economy, and primacy for individual rights in counter-terrorist law. I would sum up his position as being an egalitarian social liberal – different from Tony, yet not a reversion to Old Labour. (p.xxv)…

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