Mandelson: Author of his own downfall ...

The war of words may have entertained the chattering classes for days, but publication of 'The Third Man', Lord Mandelson's memoirs, left him with scarcely a friend in the Labour Party

"This may seem an odd admission from someone who once embodied New Labour's reputation for spin and control freakery," Lord Mandelson says in the first paragraph of the introduction to his "frank, honest and revealing" memoirs, "but almost everything about this book is different from what I had imagined it would be."

Tell that to his friends, his enemies and everyone else in the Labour Party. They expected bitchiness, self-serving justification and cant and The Third Man gave it to them; they expected score-settling, distortions of the truth and a rewriting of Labour history, largely to the detriment of the author's many enemies, and he did not let them down. Or, rather, he did. Irretrievably.

Mandelson has come a long way within Labour: he has suffered general opprobrium and two cabinet resignations. But he did contribute to three election victories. Once, colleagues were conflicted about the Prince of Darkness – appalled by what he stood for, yet grudgingly appreciative of his talents. But now, after a week of all-out in-fighting, they feel free to revile him wholeheartedly. And it is all his own fault.

The spinmeister always stressed to his enemies in the party that he was at least as traditionally Labour as them. The second chapter of his book is entitled "Born into Labour".

"I was conscious of feeling somehow special," he recalls of a visit to Downing Street when a family friend, Harold Wilson, was prime minister. "Conscious, too, that part of that feeling had to do with the fact that my bond with Labour really began with my family. My mother was the only child of Herbert Morrison, the founding general secretary of the Labour Party in London, a minister in Ramsay MacDonald's 1929 government and the first Labour leader of the London County Council in the 1930s."

It never quite convinced, however, perhaps because his attachment appeared to be with Labour nobility rather than its grassroots. The dalliances with the rich and famous, with the Hindujas and the Deripaskas, served only to underline the distance between him and the party.

Even the Labour grandee Denis Healey, who was drawn to Mandelson by his family connections, now admits he has never been a fan. "I took an interest in him, due to his relationship to Herbert Morrison, who I knew very well," Lord Healey said. "I've read reviews of [the book] and little bits quoted in the papers, but he is not a chap who ever attracted me. I like people who are straightforward and pragmatic."

This was a view shared by many within Labour, albeit with more conviction – until, at their conference last year, Mandelson was presented with what he describes as "an unlikely last chance" to convince the party of his good intentions. "It was not just a matter of fulfilling Tony's memorable test for the success of New Labour: teaching the party to 'love Peter Mandelson'," he writes. "What I wanted to get across most of all was my own love for Labour, [and] my experience of its highs and lows over the past quarter of a century.

"From the first burst of applause, I knew that my genuine sense of homecoming was getting across and that the party – my party, from the moment I had first cared about and been entranced by politics – felt it too." Lord Mandelson recalls the delirium of his standing ovation, and the next day's papers, including a now-treasured Mirror front page declaring "We Love Mandy".

He adds, with epic self-satisfaction: "Improbable though it seemed, Labour had, at long last, learned to love Peter Mandelson."

But now, over two months, countless self-regarding interviews and 566 pages, Labour has conclusively managed to unlearn that lesson.

Mandelson has finally managed to put himself beyond the pale. Not only has the bulk of the Labour Party decided that he can safely be regarded as a pariah, but even his friends have joined the sniping. That Lord Prescott was "furious" about the book is no great surprise, but Mandelson's original mentor, Lord Kinnock, was described as "spitting". "It is a compendium of quotations for the enemy and a way of fixing a bank balance," the former Labour leader declared.

Tony Blair, meanwhile, is reliably described as "livid" – as much over the book's timing, before his own reaches the shops, as its content.

Mandelson's removal from New Labour's high command is complete. David Miliband has called the book "destructive and self-destructive" and his brother, Ed, declared it as "damaging to Peter, not just to the Labour Party". Andy Burnham said: "Peter loves the spotlight but it's time to leave the stage."

All of which raises the question of whether the man born into Labour really cares about the party anymore. Out of government, out of the Commons and with little hope of returning to either, it appears Mandelson has decided to decouple himself from the constraints of party politics and move on to the next stage of his life.

He might prefer to go back to Europe, but his book and interviews in recent days have raised the tantalising possibility of him becoming involved in David Cameron's big tent politics. The peer was less than excoriating when talking about the Tory leader last week (a good politician, albeit with no ideology) and has not ruled out working with him ("The Prime Minister? What would he do with me?").

He may at last be prepared to leave Labour to the Labourites, who are now involved in attempts to get past the Blair-Brown-Mandelson era (as he calls it) with a leadership election in the autumn. The final chapter of the book is called "The End of New Labour?". It might well be – although the list of young modernisers in the race suggests a return to Old Labour is implausible. More likely, it is the end of Peter Mandelson's lifelong attachment to the heart of the party.

Additional reporting by Mark Jewsbury, James Burton, Lyndsey Fineran and Claudine Harris

News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
people
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Life and Style
The racy marketing to entice consumers to buy Fairlife, which launches in the US next month
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
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

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital