The “Prince of Darkness” is back – and he’s talking about domestic politics

17th October, 2012 2:44 pm

Peter Mandelson has made a speech in Liverpool this afternoon (to the National Association of Pension Funds) – and unlike many politicians of his era – he’s not shying away from discussion (and potentially controversial discussion) of several domestic policy areas. Here are some of the more notable segments of his speech – including an argument that Labour shouldn’t focus on reversing Tory plolicy on the NHS and Education – and a call for less adversarial politics:

On the leader’s speeches:

Nick Clegg’s was a bold reassertion of the coalition’s purpose and the role of the Lib Dems in it. With some courage, he seemed to be saying that, difficult as it is for his party, they have no alternative to seeing it through until the end date of 2015 but, after that, the party could go either way in a future coalition, left or right, depending on the result of the general election. So that puts a lot up for grabs. Ed Miliband, with equal boldness, said he was going to pitch his tent in the political centre ground with a strong One Nation appeal. Predictably, some said he is signaling right while turning left. I don’t think, though, we should underestimate the strategic significance of what he is doing. It may not be New Labour but it is clearly not old Labour either. And David Cameron’s speech was also blunt. I happen to agree with two of his statements. That people do not vote to make themselves worse off and that personal aspiration and opportunity need to be at the heart of a government’s policies.  And, second, that it is crunch time for Britain.  As we  struggle through this very difficult decade, the economic and fiscal course we follow, and the foundations we lay, will determine our future economic growth and success.

On what the Left (and Right) must give up:

Both the right and left are going to have to concede something – the right, higher revenues flowing from better off individuals into the exchequer; and the left, lower social entitlements. There is no option.  The challenge is to make this as fair and equitable, and least harmful to incentives, as possible.

On “responsible capitalism”:

“however laudable the aim of re-inventing capitalism to make it more responsible, it also has to become more productive. These are not opposites, on the contrary. But perpetual debate about acceptable safeguards, about what further inquiries are needed into the past, and repeated threats of regulatory change in the future run the risk of simply de-stabilising the financial sector without bringing about additional beneficial change within it. We will not secure economic growth without banks and capital markets capable of funding it.  So let’s digest and fully implement the current reforms and then make stability the priority to ensure finance gets back on its feet.”

On reversing Tory NHS and Education reforms: 

I am not going to get into whether or not the coalition’s NHS reforms were necessary or timely. What’s done is done. The same goes for Michael Gove’s ‘free schools’. I just do not think that, following a further change of government, another round of see-sawing in how we run our schools and hospitals is desirable, affordable or good for those who work in them.

On the need for a less adversarial politics in Britain: 

Long-term thinking, continuity and turning down the heat of our deeply adversarial style in Britain is badly needed. Of course political and policy differences are at the heart of democracy. I have not entirely lost my enthusiasm for the battlefield. But excess disagreement is becoming a luxury which, in our rather parlous state, we can less afford. Banks, the financial system, public services, industrial policy and Europe are, in my view, key areas of public interest where joined up thinking and action are preferable to continuing disruption. It is not the end of politics as we know it. But it should be the beginning of better government as we need it.

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  • Daniel Speight

    Better he crawled back under his rock.

  • AlanGiles

    ” the left, lower social entitlements. There is no option”

    So says the man who borrowed £373,000 to “buy myself a little house” – the great friend of one of the Rothschilds, and the man who was so relaxed about the “filthy rich”.

    Why on earth do LL or anybody else give the oxygen of publicity to this faded has-been, pompous, preening and frankly, an oleaginous little self-advertiser.

    • But enough of you, Alan…what about Mandelson?

      • AlanGiles

        It’s only taken you six days to dream up that side-splitting wittisiscm, Rob?

        I should give up on the stand-up if I were you, and concentrate on situation comedy.

  • Aspiration: a sorely neglected area by all parties, where Labour is missing the influence of Philip Gould. Cameron’s speech went some way to reclaiming it for the Tories, which is a missed opportunity for Labour: http://thecentreleft.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/aspirational-britain-lies-waiting-to-be.html

    • Serbitar

      Which usually means mid-ranking tax cuts and sweeteners to reward those who are fortunate enough to have the health, vim, and vigour to “aspire” (carrot) coupled with benefit cuts as punishments to “discourage” recipients who are not fit enough or no opportunities as far as “self-improvement” go from becoming moribund (stick).

      Yes… that’s right… just like the Tories! 

      How very Pavlovian!

      (Still, I’ll give you one point for not blathering about “getting the incentives right”.)

      • PeterBarnard

        Indeed, Serbitar.

        Some in Labour seem to think that “One Nation” excludes bus drivers in Blackburn, rubbish collectors in Rotherham, and window cleaners in Wigan – it’s all about Mondeo man in Maidenhead, women in Worcester, and architects in Aldershot.

        Certainly, more than one Labour commentator has opined that EdM’s “One Nation” speech was “firmly aimed at the centre ground of the electorate.”

        • Alexwilliamz

          It does take the centre ground if it is about recognising that we are all part of one nation with all the rights and responsibilities that entails. In contrast to what appears to be a continuation of divisive 80s tory policy. The tories under cameron strove to claim fairness and compassion, their policies have failed to live up to this, rooted into competition which brings winners but also losers (we all know which there are will always be more of). One nation Labour is trying to counter the tory message that Labour is somehow only for the poor, the regions and the inner cities. It can and does represent everyone, its just that part of that is facing up to certain realities that the conservatives seem to wish to deny. 

          • AlanGiles

             Hi Alex, I think the problem is if “One Nation Labour” is to be more than a miasma or pipe-dream the last thing it needs is a discredited old has-been like Mandelson to be seen to have any part of it. He is no better than many of the Conservatives he pretends  to despise but secretly admires for their selfish and avaricious behaviour.

          • Absolutely. I would add Byrne , Purnell and Flint to that list

          • Alexwilliamz

            Well I’m feeling a bit more one nationy and they can be part of one nation provided they accept what that might mean. I don’t believe in these strange constructs where people claim a badge then carry on as they did before. If they change and ascribe to what I hope will be a growing but not straitjacket idea that is one nation, all well and good.

          • PeterBarnard

            I agree, AlexW – it’s just that some in Labour seem to have a specific  idea of where the “centre ground” is.

            My comment was – I hope – in tune with your comment five boxes above : ” … everyone employed in meaningful and productive labour, everyone to have a share …”

          • PeterBarnard

            I agree, AlexW – it’s just that some in Labour seem to have a specific  idea of where the “centre ground” is.

            My comment was – I hope – in tune with your comment five boxes above : ” … everyone employed in meaningful and productive labour, everyone to have a share …”

        • Alexwilliamz

          It does take the centre ground if it is about recognising that we are all part of one nation with all the rights and responsibilities that entails. In contrast to what appears to be a continuation of divisive 80s tory policy. The tories under cameron strove to claim fairness and compassion, their policies have failed to live up to this, rooted into competition which brings winners but also losers (we all know which there are will always be more of). One nation Labour is trying to counter the tory message that Labour is somehow only for the poor, the regions and the inner cities. It can and does represent everyone, its just that part of that is facing up to certain realities that the conservatives seem to wish to deny. 

        • Alexwilliamz

          It does take the centre ground if it is about recognising that we are all part of one nation with all the rights and responsibilities that entails. In contrast to what appears to be a continuation of divisive 80s tory policy. The tories under cameron strove to claim fairness and compassion, their policies have failed to live up to this, rooted into competition which brings winners but also losers (we all know which there are will always be more of). One nation Labour is trying to counter the tory message that Labour is somehow only for the poor, the regions and the inner cities. It can and does represent everyone, its just that part of that is facing up to certain realities that the conservatives seem to wish to deny. 

    • Dave Postles

      … and to all people with disabilities, I say: take up your bed and walk and get a job; to all those with p-t employment, I say: throw off your shackles and aspire to more working hours (or lose your benefits); and to those who are unemployed, I say: get off your backside and become self-employed to eke out a ‘living’.  ‘Keep the aspiration flying’.

    • AlanGiles

      Certainly the late Mr Gould had a great deal of “aspiration” for his daughter at Erith and Thamesmead, but the best laid plans and all that.

      Mandelson is one of many reasons why the public have a deep revulsion for politicians, and if he loved the Labour party as much as he loved himself he would just get lost.

    • Alexwilliamz

      I aspire to see everyone employed in meaningful and productive labour, everyone to have a share in the society and a recognition that even those who may not be able to work can still play a role and should be looked after. Is that aspirational enough or do you mean people acquiring as many material things as they can in the hope that this will somehow stave off feelings of emptiness and guilt?

    • Alexwilliamz

      I aspire to see everyone employed in meaningful and productive labour, everyone to have a share in the society and a recognition that even those who may not be able to work can still play a role and should be looked after. Is that aspirational enough or do you mean people acquiring as many material things as they can in the hope that this will somehow stave off feelings of emptiness and guilt?

    • Alexwilliamz

      I aspire to see everyone employed in meaningful and productive labour, everyone to have a share in the society and a recognition that even those who may not be able to work can still play a role and should be looked after. Is that aspirational enough or do you mean people acquiring as many material things as they can in the hope that this will somehow stave off feelings of emptiness and guilt?

    • Alexwilliamz

      I aspire to see everyone employed in meaningful and productive labour, everyone to have a share in the society and a recognition that even those who may not be able to work can still play a role and should be looked after. Is that aspirational enough or do you mean people acquiring as many material things as they can in the hope that this will somehow stave off feelings of emptiness and guilt?

    • Alexwilliamz

      I aspire to see everyone employed in meaningful and productive labour, everyone to have a share in the society and a recognition that even those who may not be able to work can still play a role and should be looked after. Is that aspirational enough or do you mean people acquiring as many material things as they can in the hope that this will somehow stave off feelings of emptiness and guilt?

    • We need to recognise that aspiration is hardly a priority when many are struggling to survive. The Tories are welcome to it – because it won’t lead to policies worth having.

      No point in Labour governments carrying out Tory policies

  • Serbitar

    Sounds as if Mandy has written another “new” chapter for “The Third Man” and crawled out of the woodwork looking for a dribble or two of free publicity with a view to boosting prospective sales.

    • AlanGiles

       I volunteer to play Joseph Cotton to Mandy’s Orson Welles in the final scene!

  • Dave Postles

    I notice that Frances O’Grady and Natalie Bennett have contributed to the broadsheet for the Coalition of Resistance for Saturday.  Meanwhile, back amongst the plutocrats …

  • “As Labour leader, would you invite Peter Mandelson to join your shadow cabinet?”
    “All of us believe in dignity in retirement,” replied Ed Miliband.
    Go write another book or something, Mandelson. 

  • Jeremy_Preece

    So the difference in real terms between Mandleson’s vision and the Tories is what?

  • Jeremy_Preece

    So the difference in real terms between Mandleson’s vision and the Tories is what?

  • Jeremy_Preece

    So the difference in real terms between Mandleson’s vision and the Tories is what?

  • Of course there is ‘an option’. This is worthless, empty stuff – nothing to offer. 

  • ColinAdkins

    The Brezhnev doctrine was about the irreversibility of socialist ‘revolutions’. The Mandy doctrine is about the irreversbility of market reforms of public services.

    The perversity of this position is that we in Government should not change the position of free schools (and the remaining grammar schools) yet Gove feels free to determine that any new schools in Coventry should be free ones. 

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