Tag Archives: peter mandelson

“This is about control” – yes, of course it is



This video clip sums up the whole EU referendum debate. It hits the nail on the head. It is virtually all you need to see, to make your mind up on the matter.

It’s from a Daily Mirror debate, chaired by Mark Austin. The Guardian summarises the clip thus:

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“What I need is what I think the Liberal Democrats are proposing” says Labour’s Peter Mandelson on Mansion Tax

Well, well. Who would have thought Peter Mandelson of all people would back a Liberal Democrat policy over a Labour one?

The Guardian has the story:

Speaking on Newsnight on BBC2, Mandelson said he favoured finding new ways of taxing property in Britain. But he added: “I don’t happen to think that the mansion tax is the right policy response to that. I think it’s sort of crude, it’s sort of short-termist.

“What we need is what I think the Liberal Democrats are proposing and that is the introduction of further bands that relate to different values of property within the council tax system. That’s what I would like to see. It will take longer to introduce, that’s true, but it will be more effective and efficient in the longer term than simply clobbering people with a rather sort of crude short term mansion tax.”

Mandelson is the latest senior Labour figure to criticise the party’s plan to impose a tax on properties worth more than £2m to help raise £1.2bn towards the £2.5bn costs of a new “Time to Care” NHS fund. This is designed to support 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and 5,000 more care workers by 2020.

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Norman Baker MP writes…Peter Mandelson is wrong: HS2 is vital

You may have seen earlier this week that Peter Mandelson (the man who gave us the fiasco of the Millennium Dome) came out and questioned the cost of High Speed Rail. I found this particularly rich coming from a key member of the Government which crashed the British economy.

The Government’s plans for High Speed Rail (HS2) come on top of the significant package of investment in our railways that we have already announced which alone represent the biggest investment by any government in the United Kingdom’s rail infrastructure since the 1840s.

HS2 is an absolutely essential investment, not simply because it …

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Opinion: We need a proper inquiry into Patrick Finucane’s murder

In the midst of an economic crisis, a climate crisis and a Secretary of State for Defence who seems determined to turn his life from an uplifting drama into a crisis, it’s easy to forget the sins of governments past.

But some issues shouldn’t be left to lie as footnotes in the pages of history. One of those is the case of the solicitor Patrick Finucane, and Liberal Democrats should return to their campaigning roots, within and outside Parliament, to press for a full inquiry into the case.

Finucane was a Catholic solicitor in Northern Ireland, where among his most famous clients was the …

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Opinion: Time to publish the magical ratio

A week is a long time in politics, but it also sometimes seems to move at a glacial pace.

It is now two decades since Bill Clinton won the presidency on the slogan that ‘trickle down economics’ doesn’t work. Yet even a couple of years ago, there was Labour’s Peter Mandelson being ‘relaxed’ about people getting ‘filthy rich’.

Well, finally things seem to be shifting. Even Max Hastings, of all people, writes in the Financial Times that “gross disparities seems likely sooner or later to promote an upheaval, perhaps graver now than most western societies can now envisage.”

It certainly seems to …

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Learning the lessons from last week #2: Lib Dem voters don’t want out of the coalition

Even after last Thursday, I’ve come across very few Liberal Democrats saying, “we should have made a deal with Labour last May”. That’s not a surprise, given the Parliamentary arithmetic and also all that has come out since about just how split Labour’s negotiating team was, not to mention the almost farcical lack of preparation from Labour for talks. Peter Mandelson grabbing a quick cup of tea with Ed Balls to sort out Labour’s negotiating line before walking into the first meeting may be very English, but competent or prepared it wasn’t.

That does, of course, leave the question of whether …

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22 Days in May by David Laws – book review

Many insider accounts have already appeared of the events retold in David Laws’s book 22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition. It is therefore one of the book’s strengths that not only is it written in a lively style which gives some freshness to the now familiar sequence of events but it also adds many new insights.

Although only briefly mentioned by Laws himself, perhaps the most important is how much the Liberal Democrats owe to Chris Huhne. In April, just before the second TV debate, I wrote,

It’s worth taking a moment to reflect on

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Book review: Peter Mandelson’s The Third Man – Life at the heart of New Labour

At the book’s title suggests, Peter Mandelson’s memoirs The Third Man do not hold back from placing himself not only at the heart of New Labour but also at its top, variously using the phrases the three musketeers or the triumvirate to describe himself and the two Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Mandelson is also, alongside Peter Watt and Deborah Mattinson, part of another trio – Labour insiders who have recently published their account of life in New Labour. They all scatter some compliments about Brown through their books, but the overall picture painted of Gordon Brown is a deeply unflattering one. It’s a picture of a once talented politician and strategic thinker who spent over a decade in a sulk at not becoming Labour leader, frequently indulging in highly partisan infighting and repeatedly pushing to one side policy priorities as so many at the top of Labour were consumed with trying to keep the Blair-Brown show from completely imploding. As Mandelson records it, even Gordon Brown (speaking to him in 2008) admitted,

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Alistair Darling wanted to raise VAT

Throws a bit of a spanner in the works of the Labour rhetoric about how awful anyone who contemplates raising VAT is:

Amid reported wrangling between No 10 and the Treasury, Lord Mandelson suggested in his memoir that Mr Brown rejected a proposal from the chancellor to raise VAT while Mr Darling quashed calls for any future VAT rises to be ruled out. (BBC)

Mandelson writes that Brown and Darling rowed over economic strategy. He “vetoed point-blank” a proposal from Darling to raise VAT up to 18% or 19%. The then chancellor then blocked a proposal from Brown to rule out

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What Nick told Gordon (according to Peter) when asking him to quit: “Please understand I have no personal animosity whatsoever.”

The first of the post-New Labour memoirs, Lord (Peter) Mandelson’s The Third Man, begins its serialisation in The Times today.

Those who pay for the paper, in print or online, will have the joy of relishing its every detail. If like me you’re reliant on the Press Association’s fillet, it seems the big splash is what we knew already: that Nick Clegg told Gordon Brown he would have no option but to resign if there were to be any chance of Labour and the Liberal Democrats cutting a deal.

Unlike every other Labour MP except James Purnell, however, Nick did …

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If you ram through a law about illegal copying online…

… the last you thing you want is to be caught red-handed indulging in a bit of, er…, illegal copying online.

Step forward and take a bow: the Labour Party (front bench voted for the Digital Economy Bill)

Followed by a bow please from the Conservative Party (front bench voted for the Digital Economy Bill)

For as The Frontline reports:

Despite months promoting the rights of copyright holders with its Digital Economy Bill, the government has caused something of a furore after revelations that its recently crowdsourced campaign poster has breached copyright laws.

The poster is intended to parody Tory leader David Cameron by

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Brown cracks a good joke whilst Cameron flounders on gay rights

Yikes. Not quite sure what’s the most surprising from the interview I’ve just watched. The good joke from Gordon Brown about Peter Mandelson or the collapse of David Cameron, who asks for the interview to stop, turns to his minder off camera and asks for a different style of questioning.

Watch the interview here.

And no sniggering at the back when the Prime Minister pauses during his first answer.

(More also on this interview in a Channel 4 News report.)

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Public poll says Cable for Chancellor – how to bank this in real votes?

Vince Cable is the public’s preferred choice for Chancellor, according to a poll by PoliticsHome.

Of the general public polled, 31% chose Vince Cable above George Osborne, Alistair Darling, Ken Clarke, Peter Mandelson and Ed Balls.

The poll also found that 79% of Liberal Democrat voters supported Vince Cable for the job, while Osborne and Darling received much lower levels of support from their own parties’ voters. (Find the full results at PoliticsHome.)

As Iain pointed out yesterday, Vince’s recent recce to the Treasury does raise questions about how he could land the job.

Of course, national polls like this …

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Lib Dems and the #debill

I don’t want to be excessively partisan, but for the second time this weekend at conference, I’m getting a really good feeling about the Liberal Democrats.

The first was when we heard that a senior, experienced MEP thought our party was the best way forward.

But the second has been our response to the Digital Economy Bill and a huge online campaign from internet activists within the party and of no party.

Yes, it’s true that our team in the Lords invited the anger of the online activist fraternity. A lot of resentment has been brewing about the Digital Economy Bill as a …

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Daily View 2×2: 14 March – featuring exciting bollards and Mandelson saying “Vote Lib Dem”

It’s Sunday. It’s 9am. It’s time for photographs of bollards, but first the news.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

Sarkozy faces heavy loss in French regional poll

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The Independent View: Liberal Democrats should oppose the Digital Economy Bill

Last week we reported that, following the concessions forced on the government, Don Foster MP is broadly happy with the Digital Economy Bill’s proposals on illicit downloads. Jim Killock of the The Open Rights Group has a different take on the situation:

The Digital Economy Bill should be opposed by Liberal Democrats. Mandelson’s Bill seeks to reduce illicit downloads by punishing innocent people, removing any chance of a reasonable defence, and by disconnecting people.

Let’s start with this first idea, of disconnecting ‘infringers’.

Let’s say you pay BT, for broadband and somebody else downloads a number of copyright music tracks. You, your family, and …

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When should the state intervene? RBS, Kraft & Cadbury and the Eternal Liberal Dilemma

US firm Kraft’s proposed takeover of Cadbury’s has made headlines in recent days. First, because it’s a major, historic British brand being snapped-up by a non-UK business (or ‘foreign predator’, as Vince Cable labels them). Secondly, because of the fear that job losses will result. And, thirdly, because of the role of the Royal Bank of Scotland – in which the British government has a majority stake-holding – in lending the money to Kraft which will fund its acquisition of Cadbury’s.

The Lib Dems – in the shape of Nick Clegg and Vince – have sharply questioned the role of the Government in the takeover. At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, Nick asked Gordon Brown:

… there is a simple principle at stake. Tens of thousands of British companies are crying out for that money to protect jobs, and instead RBS wants to lend it to a multinational with a record of cutting jobs. When British taxpayers bailed out the banks, they would never have believed that their money would be used to put British people out of work. Is that not just plain wrong?

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What the papers say…

Tories claim Labour is using taxpayers’ money to fund election advertising campaign – Telegraph, 15.1.10

“The Conservatives accused Labour of “raiding” taxpayers’ money to fund their election campaign. New figures uncovered by the Conservatives show that spending on advertising has increased to £232 million, which is a 39 per cent increase on the previous year.”

A tenth of schools fail to meet GCSE targets – The Guardian, 14.1.10

“One in 10 secondary schools in England failed to meet basic targets for GCSEs last summer and academies were disproportionately represented among the failing institutions, government statistics published today reveal.

“David Laws, the Liberal Democrats’ education …

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Daily View 2×2: 7 January 2010

Good morning and welcome to Daily View on 7th January. Waking up to a cold frosty reception this morning are Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former Labour ministers and fellow East Midlanders Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt – and, well, pretty much the rest of us as temperatures are set to stay below freezing for most of the country for most of the day.

The 7th January in history saw a trio of firsts: Galileo Galilei first observed the largest moon of Jupiter; the first use of the modern Italian flag; and the first transatlantic telephone call.

A trio of Nicks have birthdays today: Nicholson Baker, the American novelist; Nicolas Cage, the tax defaulting American actor – and our own Nick Clegg MP, who is 43 today!

And in misogyny news: today is Distaff Day, when traditionally, women, who’d had a break from household work over Christmas, began their domestic tasks again.

2 Big Stories

Today we have one nice story and a load of links poking fun at the Labour party.

Lord Mandelson plans street parties for Queen’s diamond jubilee

Mind you, even this story in the Telegraph, ostensibly about something else entirely, can’t help but speculate on Gordon’s much-demanded departure. Here’s the Lib Dem relevant paragraphs:

Lord McNally, for the Liberal Democrats, had to cough to get himself heard, for Lord Mandelson had risen too soon. This faux pas prompted Lord McNally to say, “That’s a bad start to the year,” before demanding street parties and mugs to celebrate the jubilee.

A lesser performer would have been thrown by the embarrassment of forgetting the genial Lord McNally, but Lord Mandelson recovered without apparent effort, declaring himself strongly in favour of street parties and mugs.

Yay, street parties and mugs! Woo!

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What the papers say…

Civil  servants are as bad as bankers … The Telegraph trumpets Gladstone’s anniversary … Tories support Labour’s school Sats Tests … Another dodgy Tory donor exposed … Labour split on voting reform … Lords skim expenses cream … BBC to make film on Thorpe tragedy … what Chris Huhne thinks of Prince Charles … Unions sit on money for Labour … look at who says Hauge is Vauge …and the only thing the final polls of the year can agree upon is that Liberal Democrat support is holding up

Now Civil Servants join bankers in ludicrous bonuses – Daily Mail,, 24.12.09

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Mandelson forcing universities to offer less choice and lower standards, says Stephen Williams

As early Christmas presents go, Lord (Peter) Mandelson’s announcement of swingeing cuts to university budgets lacked something of the festive spirit – the BBC reports:

The government is to cut university funding in England by a total of £398m for 2010-11 compared with this year, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said. In a letter to the Higher Education Funding Council For England (Hefce), he also asks universities to protect quality and access to higher education. His letter confirms efficiency savings of £180m and £83m – and makes a further £135m budget reduction.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Universities Secretary, Stephen Williams, is none too …

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Lib Dems move to clip Mandelson’s power over copyright

The Digital Economy Bill currently going through Parliament would give Peter Mandelson huge powers to rewrite the country’s copyright laws in future – and all without much in the way of Parliamentary scrutiny or checks and balances.

But Liberal Democrat peer Tim Clement-Jones has tabled an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill to delete the controversial Clause 17.

He’s said:

This clause would give the Government carte-blanche to change all copyright law relating to the internet as and when they please.

Such powers are unnecessary and over-reaching and we have tabled an amendment to delete Clause 17.

Good news.

Whilst the Parliamentary Party’s approach seems to the …

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LDVideo … Mandy, Clegg and Coulson

Welcome to the latest LDVideo instalment, featuring three of the most memorable video clips doing the rounds on the blogosphere.

First up, is a rather catchy little email ditty in honour of Lord Mandelson’s implausible-but-deadly-serious Digital Econmy Bill, courtesy of Dan Bull:

As Dan would wish me to add: If you disapprove of the Bill, sign the petition, or write your own message to Lord Mandelson.

Second up, here’s Nick Clegg’s second question from this week’s PMQs – and it’s a real barnstormer, which has earned Nick deserved acclaim from across the political spectrum:

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Filesharing plans ignore legal rights, claims Foster

The rights and wrongs of filesharing may still be very much up for debate, but Don Foster again confirmed that, if Lord Mandelson wants support for his “three strikes and you’re out” policy against filesharers, he won’t get it from the Lib Dems.

Lord Mandelson wants those suspected of illegal file sharing to have their bandwidth restricted or to be cut off from the Internet altogether. Mandelson claimed that young people downloading content for free was morally unsustainable.

Don Foster, who just last week was speaking out for live music performers (the clown’s the one on the left) has made …

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Does filesharing help or hinder musicians?

Leaving aside the extremely hard-line nature of Peter Mandelson’s proposals for a crackdown on illegal file sharing, there is a more fundamental question about what the impact of illegal file sharing really is on the music industry. To what extent does the distribution of songs this way take money away from sales and to what extent does it act as a free form of publicity, which triggers purchases and income from other streams such as concerts and merchandise?

Take this recent report from The Times:

Lily Allen condemned artists who have spoken out against the proposals.

Allen, in a lengthy posting on her blog, criticised “rich and successful artists” such as Ed O’Brien, of Radiohead, and Nick Mason, the Pink Floyd drummer, told The Times that file-sharing had some beneficial effects for artists.

The pair, part of the Featured Artists Coalition, which opposes plans by Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, to temporarily disconnect those who repeatedly flout the law, said that the government plans would criminalise young people.

O’Brien said: “My generation grew up with the point of view that you pay for your music. Every generation has a different method. File-sharing is like a sampler, like taping your mate’s music. You go, ‘I like that, I’ll go and buy the album’. Or, ‘You know what, I’ll go and see them live’.

“What’s going on is a huge paradigm shift.”

So as a follow up to the clip with Nick Clegg’s views on the matter, here is one musician’s musical riposte to Lily Allen:

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Nick Clegg on file sharing and illegal downloads

Peter Mandelson’s proposals to introduce harsh penalties for people suspected of making illegal file downloads have come in for much criticism, particularly for the low standard of proof that would be required and for deploying too much stick and not enough carrot in an attempt to change people’s behaviour. So it was the main topic I picked for the bloggers interview with Nick Clegg during party conference.

Here is Nick’s answer:

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Peter Mandelson toys with electoral reform

Following his speech to the Progress conference earlier today, Peter Mandelson answered a question about electoral reform. After defending the existing system, he went on to say:

Now, does that mean to say that there is no change that could be made in our voting system in our country so that people really feel that it’s fairer and more representative? No,I don’t think we should reject contemplating any sort of change and I think that’s something that we’re going to have to address in the coming months.

Hat-tip: Left Foot Forward

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Is Peter Mandelson heading to defeat?

Peter Mandelson’s desire to introduce stringent penalties for internet piracy look to be heading for deep trouble, with heavy criticism coming from senior businessmen, internet service providers and key parts of the music industry.

First there’s this from paidContent:UK:

The government’s revised, tougher plans to tackle online piracy have been dismissed as “grossly unfair” and “misconceived” by the leaders of ISPs and consumer groups, who warn against creating an “extrajudicial kangaroo court” to cut off persistent P2P offenders.

The CEOs of BT and TalkTalk (the UK’s two biggest ISPs) as well as Orange UK, the Open Rights Group, Which? and Consumer Focus are signatories to a letter in The Times on Thursday which calls for re-think on the plans. It reads: “We are concerned that the Government’s latest proposals on the ‘how’ to reduce illegal filesharing are misconceived and threaten broadband consumers’ rights and the development of new attractive services.”

The industry heavyweights warn of the way the plans threaten freedom of speech: “usually, constraints to freedom of expression are imposed only as the result of custodial sentences, or incitement to racial hatred, or libel.”

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PM4PM? If so, it’ll be the Lib Dems’ fault

Yes, the silly season has started right on cue, with ‘mounting speculation’ (newspaper code for: 2+ journalists writing the same thing) that the next Labour leader might be none other than Baron Mandelson, of Foy in the County of Herefordshire and of Hartlepool in the County of Durham. This is, of course, utter rubbish, as everyone who’s written up the notion has been forced to concede.

But IF the impossible were to occur, and Peter Mandelson were to ascend to Number 10, he would do so thanks to one man, Liberal Democrat peer, Lord (Andrew) Phillips of Sudbury. Wikipedia takes up the story:

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Time for a heated, televised debate?

De facto Deputy Prime Minister Lord (Peter) Mandelson has hinted that his boss might be ready to debate Nick Clegg and David Cameron in the run-up to the general election. The London Evening Standard has the story:

In an exclusive interview, the Prime Minister’s most powerful ally suggested that Mr Brown would become the first incumbent of No10 to agree to the idea.

“I don’t think Gordon would have a problem with that,” he said. “While Cameron is good with words, he doesn’t have the ideas or policies to back them. I think people would see through the smile.

“The more the public sees of them, the more they’d realise that Gordon is the man with the substance.” …

A TV debate would expose the Tory leader’s weaknesses, he argued. “Cameron lacks substance and he might come across as someone who exudes effortless superiority in public, but loses his rag in private.”

It would be highly risky for Mr Brown to agree. Tony Blair and John Major both refused to give their opponents the chance to score points on live TV. In America, such candidates’ debates are a fixture and President Barack Obama’s strong, calm performance was key to winning the trust of voters.

Nick Clegg’s office has welcomed the idea:

The Liberal Democrats would welcome a televised debate with the other two leaders. Since he became leader Nick Clegg has been taking part in open town hall meetings around the country and we look forward to giving people the chance to see who really has the vision for a fairer country.

“Open debates are good for politics and good for the public. Anything that inspires more people to get out and vote should be encouraged.”

But alas it seems as if Lord Mandelson might have mis-spoken – The Times reports:

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