Labour's revival was not the work of Mandelson alone

Peter Mandelson is, without question, a brilliant political organiser. He has a first-class mind, albeit too beam-focused. When I first knew him, in his role as a television producer working with Brian Walden's Weekend World programme, Mandelson was one of the most assiduous, well-informed and structured operators in the Walden system. He was one of the reasons why that programme was so good. I make these points to emphasise that I am not among his reflex-action detractors.

But Jackie Ashley's claim ("The fall of Mandelson", 29 January) that the transformation of the Labour Party from the "dark days of the mid-1980s is almost entirely down to Mandelson's genius" is absurd. His contribution was important, but please, let us have some sense of proportion. What about the remarkable contributions of John Smith (about whose role we now hear far too little); of Neil Kinnock, who bore the brunt of the rebuilding without which Tony Blair would not be where he is; and of a whole range of people working at Walworth Road and throughout the country, unnamed, unsung, working to rebuild the Labour Party (and the trade unions) amid the wreckage and the destructive power of Thatcherism?

The myth has grown and been encouraged that it was, somehow, all due to a magical performance by one individual (Mandelson) whose insight, perception and psychological understanding of the mood of the British people were unique. Such grotesque over-hype does no one any favours, and clearly has not helped Peter Mandelson himself to contain his hubris.

Geoffrey Goodman
London NW7

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2001 issue of the New Statesman, Laughing all the way to No 10?