Do we really want Mandy as the face of the party?

To repeat that oft used phrase it is not often I agree with Letters from a Tory today reading his letter to Peter Mandelson made me smile in agreement.

Regarding the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, LFaT points out that

You [Peter Mandelson] apparently spoke briefly about the case with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi while on holiday in Corfu, yet your spokesman had the nerve to suggest that the subsequent reports of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi’s possible release from jail were “entirely coincidental”.

My own support for the Labour party was not informed by a love of coincidental meetings, but this and the letters containing the words lets keep this whole ordeal away from the media, it is sleaze politics and it doesn’t excite me. Lets not get carried away, the conspiracies that this was all to do with business deals is all without foundation at the moment, but when enough of a gap is left open, enough to see that much is to be hidden, then this raises the voters eyebrows and it is at the expense of the party.

What was that other coincidental meeting Mandelson attended the other day

You are proposing cutting the broadband connection from users who swap copyrighted content, which has outraged internet providers who said that it would breach fundamental rights and would not work.  Even though this proposal was rejected by Lord Carter, the former Digital Britain minister and Downing Street special adviser, a matter of months ago, you have mysteriously changed your mind.

Now simple decorum would have done nicely here, namely, do not change your mind from something reasonable (like a reasonable crack down on illegal internet activities) to something potentially illegal (like cutting off a music downloader’s internet connection altogether) after meeting for dinner with David Geffen, the billionaire producer, then allowinng officials to claim that the topic of internet piracy did not come up.

Now the trouble with all this is, as sleazy as it may seem, as slim as it may look, the case that these examples were mere coincidence is plausible. It is damaging, but it may be unfounded. So what is there to be concerned about Mandy for, from the perspective of a Labour supporter?

Despite appeals from Mandelson that he will never become leader through choice, one or two aspects seem to show that his being head honcho through other means goes a way into undermining the leadership, and this doesn’t include the speculation that he was leader of the country via blackberry during his holiday.

Peter Mandelson’s part in the undermining of Brown when he announced, unknown by anyone else, particularly Brown himself, that Brown would engage in a live television debate – though I think everybody knows Brown would be up to it – was if not rude then rather up front of Mandelson. For someone who has no apparent desire to be leader one day, he has a way of making sure his powerful presence is known.

With Jack Straw’s new move to qurantine peers for 5 years who want to sit as MPs has caused speculation that it is a personal swipe at his foe Mandelson. But Straw has flatly denied this, and indeed the rule does apply to all sitting peers. But where are the explicit efforts to curb Mandy’s power inside the party?

The further speculation that Mandelson will resign from the Lords in order to save the party from despair and obscurity will obviously have some high end supporters. But is his really the face we want fronting the party? He who holidays with the shadow Chancellor and a Rothschild, he who changes his mind on policy over dinner dates, he who seeks not to challenge business as much as see it untie its regulation under his watch, he who mysteriously pays off fat mortgages, and he who has become the most important member of the Labour party without ever having been elected to do so? Is he really the face of the Labour party?


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