The Prince of Darkness goes into print

ANOTHER VIEW

Share
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

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

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Most powerful woman in British politics

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans  

Yet again, the economy is the battleground on which the election will be fought

Patrick Diamond
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders