Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Monday, 30 November 2020

Mandelson, Corbyn, And Party Discipline

The Labour Party has clearly embarked on a voyage to become more disciplined in its behaviour, its messaging and its pronouncements. The problem it encountered yesterday was that the consistency which it applies to disciplining those who fart out of turn was being sorely tested by someone who gave the impression he would get away with it.

While CLPs are being told not to express solidarity with former leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been readmitted to the party but not given the Labour whip back, under pain of action against them, and the word has gone out that nothing the EHRC has said in its report on allegations of anti-Semitism is negotiable or up for argument, one dark presence from Labour’s past has decided it is. Whatever will the new General Secretary do with him?

But then, the ghost of Labour Christmas Past is Dark Lord Mandelson, so maybe David Evans will have to stop and think before striking the suspension button with the kind of vehemence applied with Jezza. And what he said was captured by Sienna Rodgers of Labour List. “Peter Mandelson says: ‘I’m worried about one thing. That is this recommended approach by the EHRC of an independent process.’ He says the NEC should ‘take ownership’ of process and ‘an independent process can’t do that’”.

There was more. “Obviously we don't yet know exactly what shape the independent process will take but I think we can be sure that it can't involve the ultimate control of the NEC. The fact that the EHRC recommendations are legally mandated hasn't been mentioned”. So Mandelson is trying to argue against the EHRC report.

Which should mean he gets kicked back into line, no? Meanwhile, Murdoch hack Gabriel Pogrund smelt a split. “Peter Mandelson just told me this at [Jewish Labour Movement] conference: in short, he said, Labour can't allow the left to legalise party management as it did in the 1980s. So ERHC recommendation of an independent disciplinary process cannot stand”. But what the EHRC said is non-negotiable, remember?

Owen Jones remembered all right. “This is a repudiation of the EHRC's recommendations which the Labour Party is supposed to be uniting around. If it is unchallenged, then it becomes a free for all to oppose the EHRC's recommendations. Peter Mandelson needs to retract and apologise in full”. Ah, but there are party members, and there are other party members. And some party members are more equal than others.

One observer did not hold back. “That's Mandelson rubbishing the recommendations of the EHRC report, isn’t it, when can we expect to hear of his suspension from the party … Mandelson gives the lie to what the Blairites want, a process that can be said to be independent, while in reality being run by by the party machine. Starmer has shown that he wasn't above interfering in the disciplinary process that should have been of no concern to him”. It is true that Mandelson made his pronouncement. And there was no action.

What allows someone to give party discipline the finger so blatantly? That they were once something important in that same party, in a senior position? But so was Corbyn.

Whose lawyers will now have had their job made a whole lot easier. What a total farce.

Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at



Starbuck said...


you are making a mountain out of a molehill.
and attention-seekers like Owen Jones are shitting on the very party they claim to support, except when they are not flavour of the month anymore.

for all his past sins, Petr Mandelson didn't "repudiate the EHRC report", only wondered aloud how one aspect of it (ie: setting up a politically independent complaint review board) could be done and whether it were really preferable to make it out of reach from the NEC.
his preference is not for the latter.
that's just a technocratic discussion about party structures, rather than one about ethics or politics.

Corbyn repudiated the findings that there were a significant and loud fringe of antisemitic, racist and bigotry in the Labour Party under his stewardshipof it.
And he barely tried to condemn it while advocating against Israeli government's policies, thus blurring the message and making it easy to bludgeon the party by an already biased and labour-hostile press.

for a party leaader, his behaviour was both irresponsible and unforgivable.

to now compare apples and oranges in some whataboutery is just plain pettyness, and such attitude is the kind that will ensure Labour is kept out of power.

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Mandelson isn't "the dark prince".

He's a corrupt right wing shithouse. Labour is dogged by them. See the current front bench.

david walsh said...

Phil Burton-Cartledge has, on his blog, (All that is solid) deconstructed PM's comments accurately. It tallies with the Peter I knew. Here are the relevant lines

"The expulsion demands Labour MPs have raised over the years are already, according to the EHRC, a politicisation of the complaints process and therefore unwelcome. By instituting an outside semi-judicial body, this can no longer happen. Second, as a formally independent body it will adjudicate on the basis of party rules but will necessarily draw on wider legislation on racism, harassment, and discriminatory practice when determing the outcomes of complaints. It will also be expected to operate on the basis of natural justice, otherwise its decisions are even more open to legal challenge by "defendants". And, crucially, the independent panel is not subordinate to Labour's NEC. This is where the problems lie for the Labour right. Mandelson fears such a process because it introduces the rule of law into the party. Frame ups become harder to manage if hard evidence is required. Getting rid of inconveniences and annoyances is tougher if one can't cook the panel beforehand. And where does it stop? Are the party's hideous working practices under threat? And what about the pervasive stitch up culture when it comes to candidate selections?

This is why Mandelson is worried. Not out of any principled reason. He broke ranks with the party's establishment because he knows what the score is. He was there in the 1980s and understands where the power bases of the right are, and how it should be exercised. Therefore to see his epigoni, whose formative years were not conditioned by a struggle with the left, forget all the lessons he learned by willingly giving away a lynchpin of their institutional power must be mind-boggling and infuriating. It represents an unnecessary weakening of their capacity to run the party as they see fit, and it must gall to see them not just welcoming it, but arguing for it. It's too late to backtrack now. Wouldn't it be funny if the consequence of anti-Corbyn agitation turns out to be a new set up making shadowy, secretive, factional politics that much more difficult?"

Andy Foster said...

Tim, thank you very much for this. Excellent stuff. I am not the first person to have remembered this after Mandelson's comments, but I think it was John Prescott who was asked why he took an instant dislike to Mandelson and replied "it saves time",