"Mad, bad and dangerous"
Mark Seddon is the former United Nations Correspondent and New York Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera English TV. He reported from eighteen countries during that time, including North Korea, China, Haiti, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has interviewed, amongst others, Ban Ki-Moon, Lech Walesa, Tony Blair, Hans Blix, Michael Foot, Mia Farrow, and George Clooney. In a journalistic career spanning over twenty years, he has been Editor of Tribune and an elected member of the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee. He has written for most British newspapers and many magazines, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, British Journalism Review and Country Life Magazine. For a number of years he was a Diarist at the London Evening Standard, and has also reported for, amongst others, the BBC and Sky TV. He lives in Buckingham, England.
“Mad, bad and dangerous”, these are the epithets apparently attached to Gordon Brown, our previous Prime Minister by Tony Blair our previous Prime Minister but one. They form the centre piece of some very serious muck raking by the man who tried to play both of them off against each other throughout Labour’s thirteen years in Government, Peter Mandelson.
Americans may be forgiven for not sharing the hype generated by Mandelson’s new book ‘The Third Man’ here in Westminster circles. It is unlikely to make the transfer across the pond, and while part of me is anxious not to give 'The Third Man' the oxygen of publicity, it is significant in that it reveals the sheer vindictiveness of raw power. In short, Blair, Brown and Mandelson were architects of something called ‘New Labour’, a neo liberal edifice created around an existent Labour Party, which had broadly been a social democratic party rooted in the trade unions and strongest in the urban and industrial areas of Britain. Blair was the communicator, the PR man par excellence, the ‘actor manager’ if you like. Brown was the brooding revisionist, the man who essentially believed in achieving the same goals, but by different means. Mandelson was the Svengali, the spin doctor, who dripped and oozed his way around the Third Estate, and who inculcated fear and loathing in equal measure. He saw himself very much as the puppet master.
The trouble was that he gave both Blair and Brown the impression that he was supporting them both simultaneously, a lie that even he could not pretend for long. And so the scene became set for the next thirteen fractious years, years in which Tony made promises to Gordon about stepping down in his favour (twice), Gordon became increasingly disenchanted with the fey, superficiality of Blair in Government, and years in which Mandelson’s Ministerial career peaked and troughed twice in quick succession. Throughout, Mandelson was main conduit for media briefings, making the careers of some journalists and trashing the careers of others.
One of the major reasons that I decided to give up on Labour politics – for some years I was an elected member of the party’s ruling Executive and Editor of Tribune - was that I could no longer stand the crushing of democracy, the party’s seismic shift to the right, the Iraq War and the fact that British politics had truly become a pathetic, myopic, circus. ‘New Labour’ was created, we were told, to draw a line under the divisions of the past. All that went before was either traduced or to be forgotten. Blair’s election as leader, aided in secret by Mandelson, with the codename ‘Bobby’ because he was so unpopular amongst Labour MP, marked our very own ‘Year Zero’. Each time I reported from inside North Korea, I became more and more convinced that the model for this new party, which soon morphed into a weird Blair fan club, was the North Korean Workers Party. This party, as with all of its former sister parties in the Eastern Bloc was run by ‘command and control’ a system of democratic centralism. Mandelson was absolutely key to developing this trajectory.
This all had the desired effect. MPs increasingly became ‘speak your weight automatons’ or Stepford Wives. Dissent was banished, dissenters barred from any position of influence. This was all done to avoid ‘disunity’. Meanwhile, at the top, the unhappy triumvirate that was Blair, Brown and Mandelson fought likes cats in a sack. But since none of them dared press the thermo nuclear button, this anger, frustration and bile became ever more corrosive, because it had become the hate that dared not reveal its name.
What Mandelson’s book reveals is his own vanity and egotism, along with a capacity to self destruct. Gordon Brown bizarrely bought his former great enemy back into Government, presumably because it was safer to have him in the tent rather than outside. Mandelson has repaid Brown for his act of rehabilitation by truly putting the boot into the former Prime Minister.
Shortly, we can expect the Blair take on the ‘New Labour’ years. We have already had the published diaries of his eponymous press spokesman, Alastair Campbell, which was sadly another exercise in blood-letting. I almost hope that Gordon Brown doesn’t respond by descending to their level, but feel that he must if only to put a seal on thirteen largely wasted years, where the leaders of the country were more concerned by petty infighting than many of the great issues and events of the day.
Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club
- Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
- It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
- This ability may come from a common ancestor
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.
- Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
- The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
- One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.