David Miliband camp blames Mandelson for defeat

Architect of New Labour condemned for public attacks on Ed Miliband, which helped to turn the tide against his brother

The love affair between Lord Mandelson and New Labour is finally – and this time irretrievably – over. The Prince of Darkness has been cast into the political wilderness once and for all, blamed directly for David Miliband's failure to win the party leadership.

The controversial former cabinet minister, Tony Blair's closest aide and architect of Gordon Brown's survival, was last night fiercely condemned by younger members of the New Labour establishment over his attacks on Ed Miliband during the final weeks of the campaign.

Five MPs who had backed David Miliband for the leadership are thought to have switched allegiance to his younger brother after Lord Mandelson's attacks. A senior aide to the defeated leadership contender said he wished the peer had been at the bottom of a river "wearing concrete boots" on the August Bank Holiday when he warned that Ed Miliband could lead Labour into "an electoral cul-de-sac".

Lord Mandelson added: "To suggest that we should be concentrating on our core voters rather than looking to professional people and affluent people is by way of saying that we want to remain a minority party." He also said he was "absolutely mystified" by Labour's election manifesto, which Ed Miliband wrote.

But the intervention created the impression that he was in effect "running" the David Miliband campaign, and cost vital votes in the incredibly close contest. Last night Teresa Pearce, the Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, said Lord Mandelson's interventions had been decisive as she worked out who to support: "I supported Ed Balls but it seemed unlikely he would have enough support to win, so I realised my second preference would be important. I found it difficult to decide between the Milibands but eventually went for Ed after the intervention of Lord Mandelson in criticising the manifesto."

In a sign of the collapse of relations, one David Miliband ally said last night: "If David had won and Mandelson had phoned to congratulate him, he wouldn't have taken the call."

The row lifted the lid on bitter divisions in the New Labour camp over the failure to install David Miliband – long seen as Mr Blair's political heir – in the leader's chair. It also raised questions over whether Lord Mandelson's powers of manipulation, which helped elevate Tony Blair and the New Labour project into government, were finally on the wane.

In an attempt to draw a line under the highly charged events of Labour's conference, David Miliband yesterday wrote to supporters to explain his decision to quit frontline politics because he "genuinely feared distracting and destructive attempts would be made to find division where there is none to the detriment of the party's cause".

He pledged to campaign in next May's Scottish, Welsh and local elections, but also wanted to spend more time with his wife Louise and young sons. "I think I can best make a contribution to the election and success of the next Labour government under Ed's leadership by devoting myself to understanding better the new challenges and new ideas and figuring out how to put our values into practice."

In the complex single-transferable vote system that Labour uses to elect its leader, David Miliband was ahead in the first three rounds, but lost by just 1.3 per cent in the final round. If just six more MPs had put him ahead of his brother in their voting preferences, the former foreign secretary would have won the race to succeed Gordon Brown as leader.

On Thursday, Ed Miliband will learn who has been elected to his Shadow Cabinet, alongside deputy leader Harriet Harman, the new chief whip Rosie Winterton and leader in the Lords Baroness Royal. At least six of the 19 elected posts must go to women, with the new leader having to balance giving decent portfolios to those who supported his leadership campaign – notably Sadiq Khan, Hilary Benn and Peter Hain – with ensuring rivals and potential troublemakers, including Ed Balls, Alan Johnson and Andy Burnham, are also kept happy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Application Developer

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in the centre of Glasgow,...

Recruitment Genius: Production Engineering Manager

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Joinery Shop Foreman

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Joinery Shop Foreman is required to join a p...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Joiner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Bench Joiner is required to join a privately...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada