|Year 2008 No. 87, October 3, 2008||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBBOOKS||SUBSCRIBE|
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One comment was that the return of Peter Mandelson to Cabinet government represents an attempt to end dysfunctional government. In reality, it demonstrates the right-wing big-business character of New Labour, and that Gordon Brown is determined to follow the Blairite conception of New Labour as the friend of monopolies and reaction to the letter. It also demonstrates the contempt Gordon Brown and New Labour have for the people. What is the issue with a minister for business? The post, previously held by John Hutton, has been widely condemned by working people and the trade unions, who recognise it as entrenching the anti-worker character of the Labour Party. Now the person who holds the post is not even an MP, has been disgraced and thrown out of government twice, and has been sprung on the British electorate as a fait accompli just as the movement is growing to stop paying the rich and blocking the bailouts to finance capital.
Peter Mandelson comes from the post of European Commissioner for Trade. Asked if he were ready to get to work, he told reporters as he arrived at No 10, "Our economy, like every other, is facing a very hard challenge as a result of the global financial crisis. In a sense its all hands on deck." All hands bar the electorate and the working people, who are being made to pay for the crisis, and are up in arms at being made to foot the bill for paying the rich.
And what is the issue with a Cabinet reshuffle at this time? Once more, Gordon Brown is going through the motions of asking the electorate to trust his judgement. It is evident that he is also trying to bolster the Cabinet with enforcers and fixers, who will try to ensure that the air of profound crisis surrounding Gordon Brown will be stamped upon. But he is likely to find that the electorate is as thankless as it has always been towards his Prime Ministership. They will not be taken in that "something is being done".
The essence of this New Labour reshuffle is to strengthen the party as a party of big business and ensuring the rich continue to rule the roost. Brown is to appoint a number of "business ambassadors", including Sir John Bond of Vodafone, John Browne, the former head of BP, and Mervyn Davies of Standard Chartered. Peter Mandelson fits well into this scenario as a friend of millionaires and as a man with integral links to the Europe of the monopolies. The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform as headed by John Hutton will be split and a new department spun off with responsibility for energy and climate change to be headed by Ed Miliband, the former Cabinet Office minister and Brown ally. Brown is to announce the creation of a new Cabinet economic committee modelled on the Cobra committee which handles national security to take special responsibility for the financial crisis.
In other moves, Hutton, the current Business Secretary, will be promoted to Defence Secretary, taking over from Des Browne, who will leave the Cabinet after refusing another post. Geoff Hoon, the Chief Whip, takes over at Transport from Ruth Kelly, who announced that she wants to spend more time with her family. Hoon will be replaced by the Brownite fixer Nick Brown. The other Cabinet entrant is Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister, who will become Gordon Brown's new enforcer as Cabinet Office minister.
Everything that is necessary to do in the circumstances of the wrecking of the economy by parasitic and decadent finance capital is being ignored by Gordon Brown. Instead of paying heed to the objective necessities for putting the wellbeing of the people as a priority, he is contemptuously strengthening the dictate of New Labour as the party of business, an anti-worker, anti-social party. This is a measure to draw up the drawbridge as the electorate demands its say in governance and attempt to show to them that they had better submit to New Labour dictate.
The response of the working class and people must be to intensify the movement to realise the pro-social programme which is represented by the independent programme of the working class, which puts the wellbeing of the people at the centre, not the super-rich, big business, the banks and the monopolies. Far from resolving the crisis in favour of these exploitative forces, the electorate demand that they be accountable for their wrecking activities and their criminal irresponsibility. It is imperative that the people discuss the issues facing the economy, as well as the peoples security, and how to defend the rights of all and block monopoly dictate and the political dictate of New Labour and the other big parliamentary parties. They must resolve the crisis of working class political representation by building a workers opposition composed of worker politicians who will lead the people in their struggle for empowerment and changing the direction of the economy to invest in social programmes and production for the peoples needs.
Enough of Cabinet reshuffles which aim to strengthen the absolutism of parliamentary government and enforce the dictate of the rich! The people must rely on their own initiatives to come to power and turn the situation around!
"It is a masterstroke in the sense that Peter was an excellent secretary of state for trade and industry but more importantly the connections he has built up as trade commissioner in Europe will be invaluable to the UK. Of course it is a political stroke as well because it is inclusive and brings back someone who could be described as nothing else but an arch-Blairite."
David Blunkett, former Home Secretary and Education Secretary
"It just saddens me - it won't enthuse people on the street or many of my colleagues. You have to ask - what has he actually done, apart from create New Labour? We're going to hear more claptrap from him about globalisation and the Third Way, whatever that was. He's talented only as a spin doctor, able to play the dark arts of politics."
Ian Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North
"I am absolutely gobsmacked. The whole Labour movement will be utterly perplexed at what the prime minister's motives are. This is an extraordinary step backwards into the worst elements of the Blair era, to reinstate possibly the most divisive figure in Labour's recent history."
John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington defeated by Mr Brown for party leadership
"Peter Mandelson is one of the few class acts in British politics. His loyalty to the Labour party is without question and his leadership qualities have never been in doubt. He also now has a wealth of experience at the highest level in global politics have represented Europe in trade talks with heads of government and the WTO. Whether he can turn things around for Gordon Brown is another matter.
Benjamin Wegg-Prosser, No 10 adviser under Tony Blair
"Gordon Brown is trying to start again. He's had a terrible year where he has plummeted in the opnion polls. He's looking at how we can represent different strands within the Parliamentary Labour Party. It will bring back some experience bring back, some people who will say 'No' to him."
Graham Stringer, first Labour MP to call for Mr Brown to go
"Peter Mandelson did a good job at the DTI and clearly understands business. His work in Europe and involvement in global trade discussions also mean that he knows where the UK fits within the international context. We look forward to working with him in these challenging economic times."
David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce
"This is a stunning failure of judgment. In bringing back Peter Mandelson - the man who created Labour spin - he has broken his promise to govern in an honest and open way. You can only conclude that his appointment was designed to distract from the changes he should have made. By leaving in place a Chancellor who has failed and a Foreign Secretary who has undermined him at every opportunity Gordon Brown has also been exposed as weak. With this bizarre reshuffle the Prime Minister has achieved the impossible and made the Government even more dysfunctional."
William Hague, shadow foreign secretary
"I fully support the principle of reshuffling Cabinet in order to make it better prepared to meet the needs of the forthcoming election. However, I believe that the recall of twice disgraced former MP Peter Mandelson is a thoroughly retrograde step which will do nothing to promote unity within the Labour Party. On the contrary, the appointment is highly divisive, and he remains a highly divisive figure within the Labour movement."
Peter Kilfoyle, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton
"First he will be an outstanding minister. Whatever mistakes he's made - and his life in politics has been long and tough - he has always delivered in his job: look at the respect for him in Northern Ireland, or Brussels. Second, he will be a crucial part of the team that will define the government's strategy and campaigning and give Labour a sharper policy and presentational edge. Third, he will show the Tories that Labour are unequivocally serious about winning."
Derek Draper, former adviser to Mr Mandelson and recently returned Labour media adviser
"The Department for Business must have a heavyweight political big hitter at the cabinet table, and we are encouraged that Peter Mandelson is returning to this role."
John Cridland, Deputy Director-General of the CBI
"I think there is a risk for him, there is a risk for the Government, but I think this is a time for risks. No one, not even Peter's worst enemy, and there is quite a lot of competition for that position, has ever denied that he wasn't an extremely good minister and that is why he has come back."
Robert Harris, novelist, former political journalist and friend of Mr Mandelson
"John Hutton was a good advocate fighting for business across Whitehall and it was important that they replaced him with a big hitter - which Mr Mandelson certainly is. His experience as EU Trade Commissioner, and having previously been at the old DTI, should be invaluable in ensuring that business continues to have a strong voice at the Cabinet table."
Martin Temple, chairman of the Engineering Employers Federation
"It is astonishing to see Peter Mandelson back in government yet again. It seems no matter how many times he is wrapped in chains and thrown to the bottom of the Volga, up he pops again. True to form, he is attempting to gain power again and, this time, without any accountability to the electorate. As a member of the House of Lords, he will not be subject to the usual scrutiny in the House of Commons at Question Time."
Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes
"I am absolutely delighted. Peter Mandelson was a very effective Cabinet Minister, both in Northern Ireland and other portfolios. On top of that, he has unique experience in Europe and I think this is a superb appointment. I am 100 per cent delighted. I have this volcanic reaction partly because he knows a heck of a lot about it and partly because he will carry great weight with the Prime Minister. All the old baggage is past history."
Tam Dalyell, former Labour MP and former father of the Commons
"Peter Mandelson has generally decent views on free trade and did stand up to Sarkozy and other protectionists across the EU. Unfortunately he was unable to deliver a great deal. The EU is at a critical juncture in the battle between those who want free trade and those who would build a wall around our coastline. To replace Peter Mandelson now risks giving the protectionists in Europe an even stronger arm, which would be devastating at a time of already heightened economic nationalism."
Syed Kamall MEP, Conservative trade spokesman in the European Parliament
"This shock return is no surprise to us, given Mr Mandelson's previous tenure at the DTI and his current position as Britain's European Commissioner for Trade. Mr Mandelson's experience will mean that he can do away with the probationary period and get straight into the business of dealing with the current credit crunch. We will be seeking an early meeting with him in order to convey some very easy-to-implement measures to safeguard the future of small businesses during these difficult times."
John Wright, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses
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