Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Good Job for Blair's Best Boy

Commentary by Martin Kelly
July 28, 2004

The stench of corruption wafted up once again from the British Labour Party on 23rd July, when Downing Street announced that the vacant seat on the European Commission would be offered to Peter Mandelson. Mandelson, a lifelong socialist and noted friend of Dorothy’s with lifelong commitments to power and the good life, has no other qualification for this post other than once being one of the closest political associates of Tony Blair. The irony of this is that, as the only politician who has ever been compelled to resign from the Cabinet twice, he will wield greater power in his new role than in any office he held in the UK. Nice work if you can get it.

If Peter Mandelson had been born 150 years before on another continent, he would have made a very successful living as a post-Civil War carpetbagger and snake oil salesman. The grandson of wartime Labour minister Herbert Morrison, he joined the movement at a very early age and after a brief media career, became an adviser to former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, for many years also a European Commissioner. After Blair’s accession to office in 1994, Mandelson is credited with the invention of the ‘New Labour’ brand, a branding so effective that they gulled the public into thinking that Labour was no longer a socialist party.

Mandelson, MP for Hartlepool, was appointed Minister for Trade in 1997. He was gone within 18 months after a scandal involving a not wholly accurate mortgage application that might have landed lesser mortals behind bars. After a period spent sitting in the naughty corner, Blair felt he so needed the talents of his Richelieu that he was brought back to become Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. After installing his Brazilian boyfriend in Hillsborough Castle, which went down a bomb with the ultra-Presbyterians, he was forced to resign again in January 2001 after an allegation, which in fairness later proved unfounded, that he had helped a couple of Labour-friendly Indian billionaires, the Hinduja brothers, obtain Brit passports on a fast track.

How and ever, now it’s onwards and upwards for Tony’s Boy. Acres and acres of newsprint are now devoted to concern over the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’, personified by focus groups of failed politicians from as far apart as Finland and Greece making policy that member states have to implement. Nobody gets a vote at all on whether or not most of it is necessary. Coming from the best traditions of European social democracy (‘We play while the Yanks pay’) it doesn’t seem to bother them that such cosiness breeds alienation. Alienation is the breeding ground for the extremism of both the left and right.

But it’s into this club, with the best brandies, the best cigars and the best cuisine that Blair is sending his pal, who, because of the structure of Eurocentric power will have far more influence than he ever had when he was setting speed limits in County Down. But in the Through The Looking Glass world of socialism, nothing succeeds like failure.

Anyone ever tasted good old-fashioned British mushy peas? Peter Mandelson is the socialist MP who once confused mushy peas with guacamole. Power, as they say, to the people.