His return to the Cabinet can only signal further canker in the body politic
So Peter Mandelson is back. Is his appointment a sign of the Brown administration’s desperation? Having briefed against Brown for years, Mandy is now back from Brussels, taking up a Cabinet portfolio for the third time, having been forced to resign twice already.
MI5’s file on Mandelson dates back to his trip to Cuba as a Young Communist League delegate, but his dubious political past did not prevent his original appointment by Tony Blair who subsequently was obliged to sack him twice. If the discredited Blair administration will be remembered for anything, it will be spin and the pernicious impact Mandelson and Alastair Campbell had on British public life. Lie, deceive and mislead were their principles in manipulating the headlines, whatever the truth of any particular issue.
There remain sinister echoes from the New Labour era, including the documentary proof that, contrary to all his public statements, Blair did personally intervene to change his government’s policy just hours after his party treasurer had received a million pound contribution from Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone. When news of the deal emerged, the scandal forced the Labour Party to return the money, but the delay in introducing a ban on tobacco advertising remained intact.
Blair claimed there was no connection between the donation and the astonishing reversal in policy, which was made by Downing Street without any consultation with the relevant minister or his department. Nobody believed his denials, and now the email correspondence has been unearthed which proves what in any language is tantamount to political corruption.
With Mandelson’s cavalier attitude to transparency and accuracy in public declarations, his return to the Cabinet can only signal further canker in the body politic. The only question is whether, having achieved a record of two resignations, Mandelson will not go for gold and achieve a hat-trick.