Mandelson’s book & the blood-red jigsaw

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    14th July 2010


    Fancy your hand at my new invention? A liquid jigsaw? Colour(s) – variable. Red most popular. Black next.

    The scraps within Labour over memoirs, campaigns, former leaders, who did or said what to whom and why, conjured up that flowing, seemingly counter-intuitive picture.

    When I first saw the 30 second YouTube video on online with Peter Mandelson starring as The Third Man – Are you sitting comfortably (children)? Then I’ll begin –  I assumed it was a mickey-take. I even looked for the Guido Fawkes logo, and marvelled at the dubbing.

    But no. It was genuine! It is the Times’s ad for its serialisation of The Third Man, sub-titled New Labour was only ever me, Tony & Gordon, but those two are now dead, more or less.

    Third Man – Lord Mandelson’s Memoir – Interview tomorrow

    timesonlinevideo Dated –  09 July 2010
    Mandelson says: ‘Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Once upon a time there was a kingdom. For many years it was ruled by two powerful kings. But the kings wouldn’t have been in power without a third man. People called him the Prince of Darkness. I don’t know why. But this fairy tale wouldn’t have a happy ending. But that is for next time.’ (See Guardian on this.)

    The video and Mandelson’s serialisation in The Times has been greeted with a mixture of scorn, ridicule, schadenfreude and so-whatery. But mostly, predictably, with derision.

    There’s SkyNews ‘Members of Gordon Brown’s former Cabinet said Labour was “f***ed” and “finished”, in the run-up to the General Election.’

    You might wonder what took them so long.

    l-r: Douglas Alexander, Tessa Jowell, Peter Mandelson, Harriet Harman, Gordon Brown, shortly before the May 2010 election.



    And so brother beat brother, until none was left to staunch the bloody flow.


    David Blunkett yesterday: “It was my fellow MP Austin Mitchell who rightly said of the party conference during those dark times: ‘Come on in, the blood’s lovely.’ ” –

    It’s been a blood-losing/blood curdling few days in the life/death of New Labour.

    It started with this a few days ago:  July 10th – David Miliband accused Gordon Brown of lacking the ‘moral seriousness’ he had promised and losing the trust of the people. Miliband claimed “spin” and “highhandedness” intensified under his premiership while previous Labour strengths such as “clear strategy” and “bold plans for change” were lost.

    Also on 10th July, in The Telegraph, Charlie Whelan Mr Brown’s former adviser and close colleague of Balls, said:

    “Peter ran the worst general campaign in Labour’s history. Nobody knew what the message was at all. It was a disaster from beginning to end.” Mr Whelan, the political director of the Unite union, which is a major Labour donor, added: “Peter wasn’t focused on the campaign at all. Clearly his only thoughts were for his book.”

    Then on 11th July, at The Telegraph: “There are concerns that the former Business secretary could open old political wounds by publishing his memoirs at such a sensitive time for the party. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is also due to publish his autobiography in September. Peter Kenyon, a member of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee, said the memoirs could be a “distraction” to the leadership campaign.

    Also, on that date, Mandy’s book excerpts began. It was said (The Guardian) that Brown’s rather OTT words to Mandelson on himself (Brown) and Blair were –


    There was no end, Mandelson went on, to the “dysfunctional relationship” between Blair and Brown. Mandelson said that while working for Blair, he had felt: “I’m being tripped up by Gordon and his people, and it’s not right.”

    And, it seems that Mr Brown himself admitted to Lord Mandelson “I just can’t communicate” and also admitted he should have called an election in 2007.

    Some of us wonder what took Mr Brown so long to notice his lack of communication and management skills. Why not in the pre-election, 1994-1997 period,  when, according to Campbell, Brown was having trouble communicating with all around him. Apart, that is, from Ed Balls and Charlie Whelan and a handful of others.


    Yesterday, Ed Balls, present party leadership candidate and close ally and economic adviser to Brown right from the start of Blair’s leadership in 1994, rejected suggestions that he took part in an “insurgency” against Tony Blair. See Mandelson’s accusations over the coup against Blair coup in 2006. [A touch of not me, Guvvery?] Now, where  have we heard that before, in Scots vernacular?

    Clearly, Lord Mandelson, the man whom the party came to love, and perhaps again to hate, has got up a few noses.  And not just of  (New) Labour’s enemies.


    If I were into conspiracy theories, I’d be  a touch suspicious about all of this. Former leaders and prime ministers invariably write a memoir. And Blair has been true to his word – post Brown/post general election, whichever came first. As it happened they came together.

    Nor did he interfere with His Brownship’s government. Not that you’d notice, anyway.

    In New Labour there were several individuals shaping ‘the project’. Far more than just THREE MEN as Mandelson’s book title suggests.

    Alastair Campbell’s Diary (Act 1) is a treasure of day-by-day quotes, impressions, thoughts,  actions and interactions. Mandelson did not come out of it too well. In fact he came out of it as a bit of a diva, prone to slamming doors and exiting, some sulking and even throwing fisticuffs. Though he was not as much to be blamed for his anger than was Gordon Brown, who was described as daily difficult to work with and a man who held grudges determinedly –  if Campbell’s account is accurate. Much of it has been borne out by Andrew Rawnsley, though little at first-hand. One day we’ll have Brown’s version too, and by then we will have seen Blair’s thoughts on personality and the issues.

    UPDATE: Guido has the recent video with Miliband finding his voice on Brown, oh,  and on his own readiness for power.



    You can pre-order (at half-price) – Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’ here. Due for release on 2nd September, 2010


    Peter Mandelson’s ‘The Third Man’ is due for release in a day or two.

    Alastair Campbell’s Dairies – ‘Prelude to Power’ – is available here – Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol 1


    Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here

    A recent comment from an Albanian, Mr Leonard Dedej from Tirana – “It takes big leaders to make the hardest turns in peoples life…mr Blair is a big leader and a great man for millions of people in Balkans!!!for stopping a savage war!about Iraq I believe that the press wherever it is has not the right to judge on this issue because it simply is to small to judge!!history will judge mr Blair!as long as it is an ongoing war no one can blame mr Blair,after all he started something for a big reason..the press its often wrong because it fights for audience!!!”

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    One Response to “Mandelson’s book & the blood-red jigsaw”

    1. Mandy’s ‘friends’ turn out for memoir book-signing « Tony Blair Says:

      […] Mandelson’s book & the blood-red jigsaw […]

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