All parties are Thatcherite now, says Mandelson

Peter Mandelson, the architect of New Labour and former cabinet minister, risked outraging backbench MPs last night by warning the Government that it must crack down on crime and illegal immigration.

The former Northern Ireland secretary also courted controversy by suggesting that, in an economic sense, "we are all Thatcherite now".

Mr Mandelson said Labour needed to learn from the defeats suffered by other European centre-left parties by confronting the issues that had led to the rise of the far right across the Continent.

His remarks followed a weekend retreat in Buckinghamshire which he organised for proponents of the Third Way from America and Europe to outline a new agenda for left-of-centre thinking. It was attended by, among others, the Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, and the Trade Secretary, Patricia Hewitt.

Mr Mandelson, who remains close to Tony Blair as an aide, pointed in particular to the experience of the Socialist Party in France, disastrously defeated in the presidential election, as an example of how the left had "lost contact" with many of its natural supporters.

Writing in The Times today, he said: "At the core of [French voters'] alienation were crime and anti-social behaviour and migration without integration, to which the left had no answer."

Mr Mandelson said there was no serious challenge on the left to Third Way thinking, which had to include a respect for economic realities.

"Globalisation punishes hard any country that tries to run its economy by ignoring the realities of the market or prudent public finances," he said. "In this strictly narrow sense, and in the urgent need to remove rigidities and incorporate flexibility in capital, product and labour markets, we are all 'Thatcherite' now."

The Hartlepool MP said Labour could not "vacate space" on issues such as anti-social behaviour or immigration, because it would then be occupied by the right. "This does not mean pandering to prejudice or headline-grabbing; it means advancing workable policies that reflect the essentially tolerant values of the majority," he said.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in