Mandelson's speech to Progress
Peter Mandelson's speech to the Progress Rally yesterday deserved a wider audience. So here goes - based on my scribbled notes. He offered 5 pieces of advice to the Party:
1) We should be proud of the Party and our Leader. If we don't cheer our own side we can't expect the voters to.
2) Don't abandon the New Labour position just as the Tories accept it. Yes to renewal of policy, no to rejection of New Labour.
3) Recognise that the new policy agenda will not come from thin air or one person's head - all the thinkers in the Party need to be involved in an inclusive, honest debate about policy direction. We can't win on the same slogans and dividing lines as the last 10 years, as Sweden has shown.
4) Trade Unions are needed, welcome and must be fully involved. They are the ballast of the Party. But some General Secretaries rejected New Labour and therefore lost their influence (they were not rejected by New Labour) and see the current situation as an opportunity to reclaim their former power. Labour must remain a national party and not a party for one class or sectional interest.
5) He's relieved that the Cabinet took a self-denying ordinance on speaking about the leadership but as an ex-Minister he didn't. Whoever suceeds Blair, he or she needs to do so by a means that commands the respect and acceptance of the whole electorate and shows we are an open, democratic Party. What has been going on since General Election day 2005 is the opposite of a stable and orderly transition. Blair will still be young when he leaves office and has a lot still to offer the Party. It must be his decision when to go. The manner of his leaving must strengthen the Party and be the basis for the next victory.