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Sunday, 7 June 2009

Lord Mandelson, the new Prime Minister?

Despite daily revelations about the corruption of New Labour, Gordon Brown still survives. It is possible that Brown will be ousted on Monday and the party will get the opportunity to get its soul back.

It will take 72 Labour MPs to trigger a formal leadership contest. If this happens, Brown will be defeated. However, the rebels are currently over 20 names short. The current list does not include the two blocks of left-wing MPs, the Campaign Group and the Compass Group. They are unwilling to sign up to the removal of Brown because they fear they will get someone worse as leader.

This raises the question about who is actually in charge of the current government. Several months ago I was told by a colleague who I used to work under at the Daily Telegraph (he still holds a senior post at the newspaper) that Lord Mandelson would be the next prime minister. I told him that the Labour Party would never elect someone like Mandelson. However, he never mentioned the word “elected”.

Mandelson was forced out of government because of several scandals involving corruption. He was rewarded by being given a peerage. Brown brought him back into the Cabinet as Business Secretary, only weeks after being accused of corruption while being a European Commissioner. One of the features of Brown’s period as leader is the bringing in of unelected people into government. This includes Lord Drayson, who has been accused of corrupt activities with the arms industries. Bringing in Sir Alan Sugar as enterprise tsar is another blow to the democratic process. Especially as Sugar was a vocal supporter of Margaret Thatcher and a strong opponent of all traditional values of the Labour Party.

It is also significant that Bob Ainsworth is the new Defence Secretary. He is probably even worse that Brown as a TV performer. Ainsworth promotion is due to the lobbying of NP Aerospace, a military manufacturer based in his Coventry North East constituency. Since becoming a junior minister at the Ministry of Defence he has helped the company secure government contracts for NP Aerospace worth £230 million.

However, back to Mandelson. He was the key figure in decided membership of the cabinet on Thursday night and Friday morning. Mandelson was made “first secretary of state” the post formerly held by the previous deputy leader of the party, John Prescott. Mandelson of course has a lot more power that Prescott. As one ministerial aide pointed out: “He is not only the deputy prime minister. He has become the real prime minister. With Gordon paralysed by indecision, it is Peter who will be calling the shots.” Is this the man that left-wing MPs want to run the country?

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