Mandelson to the rescue

Mandelson's intervention could buy Brown the time he needs

So it looks like Gordon Brown's "life-support machine", Peter Mandelson, has come to his rescue again. It's the worst-kept secret in Westminster that Mandelson has been infuriated by Brown's refusal to concede that significant spending cuts are needed to reduce the deficit. But in a speech to the Work Foundation today (run by that original New Labour guru, Will Hutton), he will insist that Brown's deficit strategy is "credible" and even "praise" the pre-Budget report.

It's worth contrasting the preview of Mandelson's speech with his private remarks. In a fabulously gossipy column yesterday, Rachel Sylvester revealed that Mandelson told a friend: "Don't get me started about the PBR. I am incandescent."

This said, Mandelson will still use the speech to settle some scores with the "class war" left. He will warn that Labour "cannot and must not confine itself to the politics of distribution. We need a new and renewed politics of production." Which sounds to me like an updated version of Stephen Byers's assertion (made to the City of London) that "wealth creation is now more important than wealth redistribution".

It's rather late for Labour to be debating its election strategy (the "politics of aspiration" versus "class war") now, and the fact the cabinet has yet to resolve this issue is indicative of Brown's indecision and weakness. The truth is that neither approach is adequate. Instead, Labour needs to articulate a vision of the fairer, more progressive society which should emerge from the ruins of neoliberalism. Gordon Brown's boast that he will deliver a "decade of prosperity" fails to appreciate the longing many feel for a more equal, not merely a more prosperous, society. Labour needs its progressive leaders such as Ed Miliband to put this right. And soon.

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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