Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron

The paperback edition of Peter Mandelson’s autobiography, The Third Man, will be published on Monday; here, in exclusive extracts to Left Foot Forward, he reveals what he really thinks of David Cameron.

The paperback edition of Peter Mandelson’s autobiography, The Third Man, will be published on Monday, containing a new preface which brings the edition up to date, covering the Labour party’s leadership election and the impact on Britain of the coalition government; here, in exclusive extracts to Left Foot Forward, Lord Mandleson reveals what he really thinks of David Cameron


On Cameron’s attempt to mimic new Labour…

[By the time we reached the 2010 election…] we were seen as having moved away from where the bulk of mainstream voters place themselves – in the aspirational centre ground of politics. That, of course, was precisely where David Cameron had dragged the Tories, to the squealing disapproval of many on his party’s right.

Like Tony Blair, he recognised that just about anyone under the age of forty, and many above it, wanted a combination of economic and social liberalism. That is what New Labour offered. It was what Cameron – minus the baggage of his party’s intolerant right wing– wanted to offer too… (p.xxx)

As Cameron and his team woke up to the scale and ambition of our original (New Labour) project, they realised the extent of the changes they too had to make to put them on the road back to power. (p.xxxi)

On Cameron’s “big tent” and relief in not being invited to enter it…

I can well understand why Cameron, in a further cloning of our own overtures to policy experts across party divides, included a ‘big tent’ approach to involve serious Labour policy minds like John Hutton on pensions and Frank Field on welfare among his early moves. I do not feel that agreeing to advise the coalition on issues that we too think are important is a great political crime, especially when the people concerned are not being asked to contribute to the debate about their own party’s future.

I admit to a sense of relief, however, that despite media speculation, I was not put on the spot by receiving such an invitation. (p.xxxvi)

On Cameron’s strengths and weaknesses…

Indeed, the more some Tories on the right pushed back, the more authentic Cameron’s moves appeared, just as those on the left who argued against New Labour had helped to reinforce the changes Tony was making. From early on, I saw, and tried to persuade Labour colleagues, that Cameron was not just another right-wing Tory leader.

If only because of his distinctly Blair-like talent as a political communicator, I also felt we would fail if we simply relied on our efforts to convince the country that he was some sort of clever charlatan.

I did question whether in reality he had the desire, or the ability, to follow through with the kind of profound, longer-term change in his party – a shift not just in political position but in ideology – that we had achieved in New Labour. From his early record in government, however, you have to give him points for trying, at least. Indeed, I suspect that he is temperamentally more at ease in leading a coalition than he would be leading a government of his own party. (p.xxxii)

26 Responses to “Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron”

  1. Mark Ferguson

    .@leftfootfwd have more Mandelson extracts, in which he twists the knife over Cameron's Coalition Comfort… http://bit.ly/ihiVll

  2. Emma Langman

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  3. GetOverItProductions

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  4. L DTUC

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  5. House Of Twits

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  6. Shamik Das

    Some juicy extracts from Mandy's book > RT @leftfootfwd: Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron: http://bit.ly/ihiVll

  7. theBomber

    @HouseofTwits RT @leftfootfwd Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron: http://bit.ly/ihiVll <–perceptive, if somewhat egocentric

  8. Elizabeth Adams

    RT @HouseofTwits: RT @leftfootfwd Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron: http://bit.ly/ihiVll

  9. Jane Phillips

    RT @leftfootfwd: Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron: http://bit.ly/ihiVll

  10. gendercart

    RT @HouseofTwits: RT @leftfootfwd Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron: http://bit.ly/ihiVll

  11. T Duncan

    I can’t think what Mandleson is saying here – Cameron is leading the most Righ-wing government we have seen and is making changes based on anti-
    Socialist ideology. It is undermining and removing all the insitutions that were built for the people of the UK post-1945 under the guise of necessary cuts for the economy. How can he suggest that Cameron is taking his Party to the centre? Mandleson is a Fifth Colomnist – I have always thought it.

  12. Anon E Mouse

    Whilst there can’t be anyone stupid enough to suggest that Ed Miliband is even in the same league as Cameron (or Clegg even) – that’s a given – but I do not see Cameron as being anywhere near as good as Tony Blair.

    Blair had a talent to capture the centre ground which is the only way to win in the UK and the reason he was Labour’s greatest ever leader.

    Ed Miliband didn’t even have the talent to capture the votes of the Labour MP’s or Labour Party members and should be ditched ASAP…

  13. Steve Kelly

    New Labour let down the vast majority of the people of this country. Of that there is no doubt. The so called third way was the most ridiculous incarnation ever. As for attacking Ed Miliband, that all the New labour infiltrators have left. They are a busted flush. They don’t it but still pretend that the only way Labour can win is to continue to advocate the same ridiculous Tory policies.

    What’s more supporters are hiding behind pseudonyms.

    The biggest problem with Ed MIliband is he too nice. He lacks passion and needs to get a grip.

  14. chris star

    Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron…
    http://bit.ly/e4dTSl
    #demo2011 #ukuncut

  15. Lisa Jenkins

    RT @unitonehifi: Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron…
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    #demo2011 #ukuncut

  16. emma dow

    RT @unitonehifi: Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron…
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  17. Richard

    Steve, pseudonym mickey mouse is a rabid Tory, languishing on benefits who fancies himself as a serious political commentator.

  18. johntucker

    RT @unitonehifi Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron…
    http://bit.ly/e4dTSl
    so wrong he's more rightwing than thatcher

  19. Anon E Mouse

    Steve Kelly – The problem with Ed Miliband is he’s no good. Never was. You can mock “The Third Way” but at least Blair could win elections. I’d voted Labour my whole life because it’s what my family did. Blair inspired me in the early days and after meeting Neil Kinnock I was his biggest fan. Yes I was a New Labour fan because I realise, like most sensible people, that the only way to govern in this country is to shift to the right like the rest of Europe…

    Richard – Never voted Tory or drawn a single benefit in my life except Child Benefit and I am an engineer not a political commentator. The trouble with you is you know what I’m saying is true and you don’t like it….

  20. Broken OfBritain

    via @leftfootforward – EXCLUSIVE: Mandelson's thoughts on Cameron http://fb.me/WkZZ8XgA

  21. jt

    Exclusive: What Mandelson really thinks of Cameron | Left Foot Forward: It was what Cameron – minus the baggage … http://bit.ly/euwz0G

  22. John Baxendale

    Mandelson’s account is revealingly static. He thinks it’s still 1994, and ‘everyone under 40’ means the same people now as it did when Blair became leader. Despite all that has happened – including a decade of New Labour government and a major economic crisis – for Mandy, time apparently stands still. But if New Labour got it right, then why is Cameron taking things even further in a neo-liberal direction? And if this is what people want, why didn’t he trumpet it in his election campaign instead of concealing his intentions? And if Mandelson agrees with what he’s doing, why is he relieved not to be asked on board?

  23. Anon E Mouse

    John Baxendale – Cameron didn’t win the election outright – the coalition is a compromise so full Tory policies won’t be implemented. Cameron certainly has more legitimacy than Labour who were soundly whacked at the election but none the less it wasn’t an outright win for him.

    The more Labour shifts to the left, which it inevitably will under the Ed Miliband the union man, the more the UK electorate will turn against it.

    Labour supporters can complain all they like about Tony Blair but he knew, more than any other Labour leader in history how to win elections. Ed Miliband needs ditching ASAP – only 15% of his shadow cabinet voted for him and since Labour were gutless in not getting rid of the unelected Gordon Brown you’d think they’d learned their lesson.

    People like Ed Balls can go onto as many shows as he likes but until the party admits where it went wrong no one will trust it with the governance of this country again – why should they?

    The sooner Labour supporters start admitting their mistakes and just grow up and lose the silly university student socialist mentality the sooner we may take them seriously….

  24. Mr. Sensible

    Cameron’s mask has slipped; we now know what all this ‘Big Society’ is all about.

  25. tonybaloni

    The only mistake Labour made was to not offer Murdoch more than the Tories were offering. Basically a reigning in of the BBC especially it’s influence abroad.
    The Tories agreed to pay the price but they in the long run will regret it as they have allowed Murdoch more power than he could have imagined getting away with.
    The future politics of this country and it’s image abroad is now totally in the hands of Murdoch and as usual the Tories would sell their mother for even a whiff of power.

  26. Anon E Mouse

    tonybaloni – At least the Murdock empire pays it’s taxes which is more than can be said for the Labour loving Guardian which has scammed the British people out of £millions with it’s Tax Avoidance scam.

    If you don’t like Murdoch vote with your feet and don’t watch Sky or read any of his newspapers. With the exception of the BBC it’s a free country.

    One of the main contributors to this fine blog, Shamik Das, even has the audacity to criticise Rupert Murdoch whilst subscribing to Sky Sports.

    As for the BBC, whilst it’s CEO is paid £1million a year from effectively a public service in tax terms people should take no lectures from that sanctimonious bunch…

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