Monday, July 19, 2010


Mandelson Vague on Key Question on Why He did not Help Depose Gordon

I recently asked, of Mandy's memoirs, why, if he thought Gordon was so crap, he didn't join those trying to depose him, rather than defending him- rather effectively I thought at the time. I've been reading Rawnsley's End of the Party again and have reached the bit about the attempted coups. Mandelson is portrayed as being contemptuous of Gordon as a prime minister in private yet supportive in public. No change there, then you might say.

Then I saw his interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday and Marr asked the very question I had posed. Mandelson said he could in no way have joined in any coup attempt as: firstly there was 'no way' he could have known what other Cabinet members thought. Well, I doubt that. Mandeslon is a natural plotter and would hnave known almost intiuitively what his colleagues were thinking or would have quickly found out. Secondly he said there was no way he could have helped to bring down Gordon during an economic crisis. More credibilty to this argument but if he really wanted to defend New Labour, there was time to remove Brown and replace him with a less toxic leader. Mandelson has estimated Gordon cost the party 40 seats; that's enough to have made the coalition unformable.

The third reason, not mentioned by Mandeslon but crucial at the time, was that there was no obvious candidate. Miliband D, was up for it to a degree says Rawnsley, but lacked the cojones to break cover. This absence of a replacement- though virtually anyone would have been prefereable- was a key reason why Brown survived and an indictemnt of those now contesting the Labour leadership.

I suspect Mandelson too, had slipped back into 'courtier' mode with Gordon after October 2008, when he returned to the Cabinet. He was enjoying it too much to risk it ending: a new leader might well have deemed him unemployable. And, just maybe, he felt a little loyalty to the man who used to be a close friend and who had awarded an Indian Summer to his career.

If Lord M couldn't do it, no one could. The least worst strategy (so often the closest thing to best you can get in politics) seemed to be to maintain a show of loyalty. I even found myself almost defending GB live on national telly after my local election defeat in May 2008 - and that after my damning report to my CLP after the 2007 conference (see earlier comment (and thanks for the welcome back, I never actually went away)).

It's no wonder DM and others were unwilling to put their heads above the ramparts, people haven't forgotten what became of Heseltine after he brought down the Iron Lady. And a failed attempt would have had even more disastrous consequences...
Actually Hughesey after reeading the opening chapter of Mandy's memoirs, arrived today, I think he DID feel genuine loyalty to Gordon. He's a curious mixture of calcualtion and integrity. And he is Labour through and through.
"he is Labour through and through" - absolutely right. Did you see the interview he did a few years back with Alistair Campbell? Can't recall who was interviewing whom (!) but they were both clearly rock solid Labour tribal loyalists.
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