The Prince of Darkness goes into print


Related Topics
Ten years ago I sat nervously alongside Peter Mandelson, waiting to be interviewed by the Labour Party's National Executive Committee for the post of director of communications. My pitch was drawn from what I had seen working successfully in other countries. Parties of the centre- left that looked outward to society did well. Those that debated internalities were doomed.

I didn't get the job, thank goodness, because Peter Mandelson's period as Labour communications supremo brought together a person and a post to fuse in a way that is rare in British politics. Part of John Major's troubles stem from the fact that there is not a single member of the Cabinet or official in Conservative Central Office who looks happy doing his or her job.

Mandelson was always far more than a media guru. He was and will always be a 110 per cent pure-bred political animal. In the Seventies, he worked for the TUC, in the private office of a cabinet minister and was a Lambeth councillor - a triple training given to few MPs. In every sense, he is a politician more than he is a journalist, which is why the news that he is to take the ultimate political risk of bringing out a book is much to be welcomed.

Mandelson's problem is that his reputation lives on even while he seeks to shed his skin as a media guru. He gets the blame for every unattributed story - and there are far too many of those - that appears in the press about some new development in new Labour's policy evolution.

Dubbed the Prince of Darkness, he is anything but an eminence grise operating in the shadows of party policy making. Mandelson will debate in public with anyone, including Arthur Scargill. I recently listened to an interesting view of Labour's programme of government which he put forward in debate with Richard Burden MP at a meeting of Tribune MPs in the Commons. He pops up on television, writes for papers and never knowingly turns down an invitation to speak at the scores of networking gatherings in Labour's broad church.

Many Labour Party members may not like what he has to say, and many more resent (or are jealous of?) his closeness to Tony Blair, but he does not hide his views. Now they will be available in the most public - and attackable - manner of all, in a book.

The synopsis published in the Sunday papers has the feel of a come-on to hook a publisher and we shall have to see what the published version has to say. Will it be a new Crosland? Will it be as radical as the recent books from Andrew Marr or Will Hutton? At least it will be a whole book, pages and pages of it. Mandelsonism, if it exists, may step forward from being a black hole of supposedly secretive manipulation to the bright light of argument and policy. But if Peter Mandelson became just another politician, who would replace him as the new demon - whether of the left or right - that Labour has always appeared to need? Or is new Labour sufficiently adult to sleep at night and live by day without having to believe in its own bogeymen?

The writer is Labour MP for Rotherham.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

Read Next

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage

If I were Prime Minister: I would create a government that actually reflects its people

Kaliya Franklin
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower