15 March 2007 Edition
Peter cries wolf
“It, has been the greatest privilege of my political life to play a part in the peace process in Northern Ireland, something far bigger and more important than any one individual or his career” – from Peter Mandelson’s resignation speech in January 2001.
“Weston Park was basically about conceding and capitulating in a whole number of different ways to republican demands - their shopping list. It was a disaster because it was too much for them ... That was a casualty of my departure, I would say” – Mandelson, Guardian interview, published 13 March, 2007.
“Unreasonable and irresponsible” – Mandelson, again in the Guardian, on Blair’s negotiations strategy with Sinn Fein.
“I was at a performance of the Royal Ballet visiting Belfast and I was taken out three times during the performance to talk to No. 10 about this,” Mandelson on the tedious interruptions of work in his social life – Guardian interview.
“When Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness entered the room, you were expected to stand up” – Guardian, interview.
“This report amplifies something I said out of all proportion to its content and makes a generalised judgment totally unsupported by the remarks I made” – Mandelson speaking to the BBC later on 13 March
“Among his greatest achievements in office” – Mandelson later that day on Tony Blair’s legacy in Ireland.
BY ROBBIE SMYTH
It is hard to count how many times Peter Mandelson has resigned from various political posts beginning with leaving Labour’s Young Socialists in 1971 to allegedly join the Young Communist league and ending with his second resignation from the British cabinet in 2001 over his phone call to a Home Office minister regarding the passport application of Srichan Hinduja, a wealthy Indian businessman.
After this week’s revelations in the Guardian of Mandelson’s disdain for his party leader but more importantly for Sinn Féin and republican voters, it is not likely that Mandelson will be forced out of this lucrative EU Commissioner’s posting. Though, with public knowledge on what he thought of political negotiations in Ireland, it brings into question his ability to take part in international trade negotiations on behalf of the EU at the World Trade Organisation.
What does Mandelson think of his EU employers which technically means us, the 350 million plus EU citizens, on whose behalf he works, who stump up the money to pay for his wages and expenses which can be quite demanding. The Daily Express reported just weeks ago that he had requested an £80,000 Maserati as his official EU car.
At some shallow, superfluous level you might actually feel sorry for Peter Mandelson, the way you feel remorseful for an overpaid Premiership footballer when vandals scratch their Ferrari.
Mandelson’s early life promised so much, but the reality has been so drearily different. He went to school at Hendon, college at Oxford, where he dabbled with the Young Communist League before rejoining the Labour Party where his grandfather Herbert Morrison had been a minister.
Then came his ascension up the ranks of the party after a stint as a producer with London Weekend Television, leading to his appointment in 1985 as Labour’s Director of Communications leading to Private Eye satirically calling him the “Prince of Darkness”.
How hard it must have been for Prince Mandy to have taken the Labour safe seat at Hartlepool, didn’t they have anything closer to London.
Things were looking up though when as Labour’s Director of Elections in 1997, he could claim a lot of the credit for the landslide victory that brought Blair into Downing Street, where Mandelson was awarded a cabinet post as minister without portfolio.
These were the glory days, he had the Jaguar with driver, the minister’s salary and now the best bit - no ministerial baggage. Then the rot set in. Blair moved Mandelson to the Department of Trade and Industry, meaning Mandelson now had to work on mundane matters of government.
Then came resignation No 1, when it was revealed that Mandelson’s Notting Hill home had been funded by an interest free loan, (any of this sound familiar), from another Labour MP and reported multi-millionaire Geoffrey Robinson whose business dealings were being investigated by Mandelson’s Department. Robinson was cleared but Mandelson had to resign while maintaining that he did not do “anything wrong or improper”.
Mandelson’s recall was to be the Northern Secretary, but from his Guardian interview published this week it is clear that Mandelson had utter disdain not just for the elected parties in Ireland, but particularly republicans, and for the development of the peace process which we know moved on in spite of him.
As Peter collects his EU pay cheque at the end of the month, he should ask himself is he really working on all our behalf or just to his own agenda, if it’s the case that he isn’t working for us, he should do the decent thing and resign. We don’t need princes or patriarchs, the EU should tolerate neither.