Mandy hits back at criticism

Mandelson's book has prompted ugly headlines for Labour
Mandelson's book has prompted ugly headlines for Labour

By staff

Peter Mandelson has hit back at criticism of his book, which has prompted ugly headlines for Labour throughout the week.

Former Labour leader and one-time fellow EU politician Neil Kinnock said Lord Mandelson had become a "caricature" of himself, and that his memoirs allowed self-promotion to take precedence over historical accuracy.

"Neil's comment is based on never having opened the book. It only became available [yesterday]," he told the Guardian.

"I think people should read the book, rather than have views and words put into their mouths."

Lord Mandelson also went into further details about the psychological damage done to Gordon Brown by Tony Blair's successful fight for the leadership following the death of John Smith.

"In the aftermath of John Smith's death and Tony becoming leader, Gordon went to a dark place that was defensive, did not make friends easily, saw people repeatedly out to do him when no such threat existed," he said.

"Therefore the Gordon I saw during the period of the Labour government was more often than not an unhappy and an aggressive man, rather than the alliance builder and team player that I had worked with previously.

"I think this left a scar ... that I hoped I could remedy, and help him operate in a different way. I did so only at the margin, but I wish I could have done much more for him."

But he insisted he did the right thing when refusing to back the various coup attempts against the prime minister.

"I felt a sense of personal loyalty. I felt a real bond between us and I was not going to be shaken on that," he said.

"But it was also my guess that if Gordon stepped down and people got behind David Miliband, Ed Balls would have entered the contest, and before you knew where you were there would have been an ugly fight, not just between two people perceived to represent new and old Labour, which was the last thing we want."

The full memoir, published yesterday, contains few items which were previously unknown to the politically-interested public, although there are some eyebrow-raising moments, such as a passage where Lord Mandelson appears to claim credit for the good working relationship between David Cameron and Angela Merkel.

"Soon after David Cameron became Conservative leader, when he was turning his back on the main right of centre alliance in the EU, she made it clear that she intended to have little to do with him," Lord Mandelson writes.

"My advice to her was to do exactly the opposite. When I visited the chancellery I suggested that she should see Cameron and make him aware of why continental politicians and parties on the right saw European integration as vital for their national interests."

Lord Mandelson's reintroduction to the government was considered one of Mr Brown most effective moves as prime minister, but the lacklustre election campaign led many commentators to question the effectiveness of the former-spindoctor's political abilities.


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