UK Politics

Mandelson defends memoirs, saying they will help Labour

Lord Mandelson has hit back at criticism of his memoirs from senior Labour figures, claiming they will help the party as it elects a new leader.

And he insisted his book, The Third Man, painted a "flattering" picture of the Blair and Brown governments.

Extracts in The Times have focused on feuding between the two men, claiming Mr Blair once called his successor as PM "mad, bad and dangerous".

Mr Blair was reported by the newspaper to be "livid" about the book.

The former prime minister, who is due to publish his own memoirs in September, has not commented publicly, although his spokesman said he would be putting out a statement later.

Lord Mandelson claims Mr Blair went back on a promise to Gordon Brown not to fight a third general election as prime minister.

He also revealed Mr Blair once described Mr Brown as "beyond redemption".

But the extracts have been equally candid about Mr Brown's time in power, painting a picture of warring ministers who knew they were heading for defeat at the polls.

Lord Mandelson urged readers to judge the book as a whole and defended Mr Brown's premiership, saying it would be judged by his handling of the credit crunch crisis.

The former business secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today: "I make clear, as far as Gordon is concerned, that the chief test of Gordon and his premiership was the way in which, and the success with which, he fought back against the financial crisis.

"I think that will be his chief legacy and chiefly how he is remembered as a prime minister."

Asked if his book painted a flattering picture of New Labour, Lord Mandelson replied: "I do think it shows a very good and flattering picture of not just Gordon Brown and Tony Blair but others like me who helped them rescue the Labour Party from what it was in the 1980s."

'Indulgence'

Asked if he thought it was helpful to the party to publish his book now, Lord Mandelson insisted: "Yes, I do. I think you have to write these things when they are fresh in your mind and when they are relevant to a debate that's taking place."

With a leadership contest taking place, he said he had wanted to "give my views and analysis at a time when it is most relevant to the party".

He dodged a question about whether he should donate the book's profits to the Labour Party, saying he would continue to support the party financially and work for its success "until my dying day".

Lord Mandelson resigned twice from the Labour government under Tony Blair but was brought back by Gordon Brown in 2008. He left frontline politics after Labour's election defeat in May.

Other disclosures in the Times include claims that senior Labour figures were resigned to defeat under Gordon Brown and that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg insisted on Mr Brown standing down as part of coalition talks after May's inconclusive election result.

Some of the five Labour MPs battling it out for the party leadership have been critical of Lord Mandelson's decision to publish his memoirs, arguing that the party needed to move on from the feuding of the Blair/Brown era.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham told BBC News: "This is what Labour's got to leave behind, this indulgence. I don't think it helps the party to rake over all these coals."

Prime Minister David Cameron seized on the former business secretary's account of the Blair and Brown years at prime minister's questions on Wednesday to mock Labour for its "shambolic" time in government.

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