Con-Dem Nation,  Labour Party

The disunity memoir

Jackie Ashley makes as usual a good deal of sense in the Guardian today talking about the distraction of Lord Mandelson’s soon to be published memoir, ‘The Third Man’ completely with its own “dark prince” ad campaign.

Labour owes Mandelson much, but he owes the party as well and that’s why rushing his book out in an unseemly fast manner is not helpful while the coalition plots to reshape British politics and the Labour leadership race has a way to go. This is not what the party needs to be focusing on.

“My point is that these early memoirs seem likely merely to reopen the hideous wounds Labour inflicted on itself while in power. We know what went wrong. We saw it and heard it being reported at the time. Brown has a temper – yawn. Blair and Brown had terrible fights – yawn. At this most dangerous time for Labour’s future, yet more headline-grabbing rehashed descriptions of the ghastliness seem to me to be self-serving and undisciplined. They do no good,” Ashley writes.

Ashley is spot on: it does no good. All it leads to is others wading in and firing back at Mandelson whose book “seems to have as its cutting edge another assault on Brown”. This is a red rag to a Charlie Whelan bull. The political director of Unite accused Mandelson of running the “worst election campaign in Labour’s history”. Ed Balls is happy to let Whelan doing his speaking for him on this issue.

“Peter wasn’t focused on the campaign at all. Clearly his only thoughts were for his book,” Whelan said.

Labour Leadership contender Andy Burnham has also shot back accusing Mandelson of “self-indulgent arrogance”. True or not it only serves to fuel Mandelson’s gossipy publicity drive.

We don’t need leading figures in the Labour movement doing this. It only helps the coalition and distracts from what it is doing: slashing public jobs and hiking up VAT whilst trying to cement the Nick Clegg and David Cameron partnership as a permanent shift in British politics rather than a soon to combust aberration.

Rather what we need is people doing what David Miliband is doing as he made his strongest claim so far to the Labour Leadership with his Keir Hardie lecture on Friday. In that he talked about the renewal and how much work there is to be done.

“Ideological uncertainty, administrative methods and a recession that threatened real depression did for us. But it was deeper. We lost the trust of the people and in a democracy that’s a very big problem.”

The speech was said to be influence by those around left winger Jon Cruddas, who has yet to nominate anyone in the race, and who called it “the most important speech by a Labour politician for many years”.

That’s the kind of unity that the party should be interested in. Not the pre-publicity of Mandelson’s “bank-swelling memoir”.

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