Lord Mandelson and effective Opposition in the UK

Lord Mandelson was always keen to require iron discipline in New Labour when he was one¬†of the small clique in charge. Today he is now an enthusiast for rebellion, urging modern Labour MPs to disagree with their Leader and to remain true to the ¬†flexible pro European and pro military intervention stances ¬†of Blairism. This sad volte face is not surprising. Lord Mandelson would argue that an MP only owes loyalty to his party and its Leader when they are “doing the right thing”. The problems with that proposition are twofold. The first is who gets to decide what is the right thing? The second is, can it ever be the right thing in a democracy to seek to prevent the official opposition opposing for good reason?

There are two defining issues in Lord Mandelson’s mind where he wishes Mr Corbyn to¬† be more Blair like to justify his ¬†support and recommendation. The first is the UK’s willingness to undertake¬† military action in the Middle East against regimes or Islamic groupings it dislikes. The second is the UK’s requirement to accept any new law, regulation or treaty amendment from the EU that the EU institutions and other member states may propose. In¬† both cases Lord Mandelson argues that to be a serious party of government Labour needs to be nearer the centre, which he claims is in support of more military intervention, and in support of more EU intervention in our lives. I suggest to him that in¬† both cases this is a misreading of the public mood. I do not recall the Conservatives under Mr Cameron campaigning in last year’s General election to take military action in the Middle East, nor stressing the need for more EU entanglements. Indeed, part of the attraction of the Conservative case was the combination of a negotiation to remove EU powers, and an In/Out referendum so we can leave if the new relationship remains poor.

The issue of military intervention is a crucial one. A good argument can be made to say that Tony Blair lost substantial support amongst voters as well as within the Labour party by the decision to go into Iraq, and by the way he, Campbell and Mandelson presented the case for such intervention. Parliament does need to debate the consequences of the substantial interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and the interventions of our allies in Syria, and to ask if past military interventions have been helpful. Mr Corbyn and some other Labour figures have a tradition of doubting the value and wisdom of such actions, which is shared by an important part of the electorate. Why must they now suppress their views and doubts, and switch to the pro intervention side? How do they keep their existing support, and reassure people in the middle ground, if they have to defend all that was done by past Labour governments in Iraq and Afghanistan? Arguably Mr Corbyn was too kind and weak in allowing Labour MPs a free vote on the Syrian war. His decision to allow such a free vote meant Parliament was not going to provide any serious challenge or check on the current government’s wish to pursue military action.

The Labour party’s position on Europe is even more shaming. Several of the Corbyn ¬†group of rebels from the Mandelson era did not go along with the endless transfer of powers and monies to the EU from the UK, which was brave of them. ¬†Under Labour’s Opposition leader in the last Parliament the Labour party was whipped to make sure the government could never lose a vote to prevent some new piece of EU law going through, or to¬†grant ¬†some additional financial charge on the UK. Most Labour MPs were¬†advised ¬†not to turn up to EU debates, or were briefed to come in and treat them all as “tory split” issues, so making it impossible for Parliament to have a mainstream critical examination of anything European with the chance of a vote which the government might lose given Conservative rebels.

The advent of The Corbyn group at the head of the Labour party promised a more principled stance, with proper opposition in Parliament. Unfortunately it look as if the Leadership has given in to the Blairite tendency and decided¬† not to oppose¬† more EU after all. In opposition the Conservatives spoke and voted against Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon and other EU centralising measures. Because Labour’s majority was so large we never won a vote but at least we fulfilled the need to push the government to explain and to battle for these matters. Labour it appears do¬† not wish to oppose despite the majority being smaller.

Lord Mandelson was wrong on the European Exchange Rate Mechanism which he supported and which did great damage. He was wrong on the Euro. He is now wrong on how the Labour party should conduct itself in opposition. A loyal opposition should always support our military and be united in support of military action when our homeland requires swift and strong action, but it should not allow any military intervention anywhere without Parliamentary challenge. Above all, a loyal opposition should always be willing to stand up for the rights of the UK electors to see matters settled in their own Parliament, not spirited away to the EU. Lord Mandelson’s policy proposals do not look popular to me.




  1. Lifelogic
    January 2, 2016

    Indeed all you say is correct.

    Lord Mandelson is (rather like the BBC) reliably wrong on nearly every issue he pronounces on. He has been proved reliably wrong on the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, wrong on the Euro and wrong on the EU power transfers in general. Also wrong on the great “renewables” religion and scam.

    Launching the 10-year City Plan, Lord Mandelson – High Steward of Hull – said the region needed to focus on renewable energy and heritage.


    Indeed being proven wrong on every issue seems to be one of the most reliable ways into the House of Lords.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 2, 2016

      He also had to rightly resign twice from Cabinet.

      Interesting to read his long wiki entry, about the only positive I can find is that he was in favour of Heathrow expansion alas even now, still not given the go ahead.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        January 2, 2016

        Dear Lifelogic–He is an alumnus of mine (for my sins)–Can’t say fairer than that

        1. Lifelogic
          January 2, 2016

          You have my sympathy, how did you find him then?

    2. APL
      January 2, 2016

      Lifelogic: “Lord Mandelson is (rather like the BBC) reliably wrong on nearly every issue he pronounces on.”

      And rather like the BBC Mandelson is in the pay of the European Union to a very substantial degree.

      In no other organization, could one spend, what was it, five years? and walk away with pension rights that anyone else but the most senior chief executive of a private multinational company would have to spend half a lifetime to accumulate.

      Mandleson, Kinnock, Blair, and folk like them are bloodsuckers embedded in the artery of the British tax payer. He is eligible for a British Parliamentary pension, ( funded by the British tax payer), an European Union pension ( funded by the British tax payer), and a House of Lords stipend ( funded by the British tax payer). And like Blair, what exactly was it he has done to benefit the UK?

      1. Lifelogic
        January 2, 2016

        You ask – And like Blair, what exactly was it he has done to benefit the UK?

        Er….. tricky one that, one can see how he has benefited himself quite well.

        All I can think of is that he resigned twice, but alas he kept coming back!

      2. Peter Davies
        January 2, 2016

        All you’re description is so well put I could not have used better words myself, I wonder if the likes of mandolin read these blogs?

    3. stred
      January 2, 2016

      Also, Lord Prescott, ex Ship Steward of Hull is an enthusiast for wind turbines in the middle of the North Sea. Was it not the High Steward of Hull, city of culture, late of the Business Dedpartment who sold the British car industry for a pound to some accountants, who allowed engineers to make a good MG sports, then closed (words left out ed) and went off with huge pensions? etc ed

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 2, 2016

        I disliked the sneering attitude of some Tory MPs towards Prescott, which showed their party up in a bad light. My objections were not to his humble origins or his previous occupation but what he did after entering politics.

        1. Iain Gill
          January 2, 2016

          The whole political class and its equality agenda which actively discriminates against working class accents is a major hypocrisy and weakness of this country.

          1. lowdown
            January 4, 2016

            The most under represented social group in Parliament is working class people. Did you know that 78% of sitting MPs are millionaires?

        2. Lifelogic
          January 2, 2016

          Nothing wrong with humble origins, indeed they can help keep you in touch with most voters reality and human nature in general. Tebbit, JR, David Davis and Thatcher are perhaps good examples. Nor is there anything wrong with being well born or wealthy origins as we see with the excellent Matt Ridley or Jacob Rees-Mogg as examples.

          It is having a duff compass, being a rather dim and just not thinking things through properly that causes the problems.

          We saw this in spades with Heath Major, Blair, Brown & even Cameron.

          But people like 98% income tax, former communist, Denis Healey or can still be rather dim – this despite getting double firsts in Greats.
          They simply seem to lack rational logic and an understanding of human nature and real economics – but clearly must have good memories. Gordon Brown perhaps another such person.

          The other problem is MPs who are just self interested career politicians on the make – no shortage of them. Aspiring to be an MP is surely a clear sign that you are likely to be rather unsuitable, the sort of person who endless wants to boss people around all the time or a green or other religion loon or someone with a large chip on their shoulder.

        3. APL
          January 2, 2016

          Denis Cooper: ” but what he did after entering politics.”

          Talked utter gibberish?

        4. Leslie Singleton
          January 2, 2016

          Disagree–The man’s a pleb through and through

          1. Lifelogic
            January 2, 2016

            Unfair to plebeians they were the people who kept Rome running, the free citizen who were not patrician and usually had useful jobs as traders, farmers, builders and the likes.

        5. lojolondon
          January 2, 2016

          Tory MP’s singularly failed to mock others of humble origins, eg. Alan Johnson – postman. Two Jags correctly received a constant ribbing, for being a boastful, pompous bully; a very sore loser and an ungracious winner.

          1. Lifelogic
            January 2, 2016

            Also for being rather like John Major, unable to string a coherent, meaningful sentence together.

    4. yosarion
      January 2, 2016

      Mandelson worked at the BBC in his early years, New Labour spin Doctors controlled the BBC, I wonder why?

  2. Dame Rita Webb
    January 2, 2016

    “I do not recall the Conservatives under Mr Cameron campaigning in last year‚Äôs General election to take military action in the Middle East” Yes JR you are absolutely right on that one. However Dave tends to do a lot of things without campaigning on them first. The intervention in Libya being one and another attempted one in Syria after the use of poison gas. Its not just in the field of foreign affairs were he brings stuff out of nowhere, “gay marriage” being one prime example. Its noticeable that Mr Mandelson’s government was quite satisfied with nothing more than “civil partnerships” too. I wonder what else Dave has in store for us that he did not tell us about during last year’s election?

    Incidentally I do not think Labour has anything to be ashamed about with regard to Europe. If Dave had not decided to pacify you and your mates with a referendum, he would be surrounded with as many “bastards” as Major was. Remember Sir John had a majority nearly twice as big as Dave’s too. This is despite the EU having nothing to do with the big problems facing the UK today which result from a neo lib social and economic agenda set and implemented in Westminster. The only tangible thing you can offer me, being out of the EU, is I will be better off to the sum of ¬£300 p.a. Great thats the TV licence paid for and a couple of weekly shops as well.

    1. Gary
      January 2, 2016

      Mandelson is part of the neocon clique that conduct empire using funny money. Your and my savings and pensions are what they use.

      I cannot wait to leave the EU, and for people to get the shock of their lives when they realise that most of our big problems are made in Westminster not Brussels.

      1. Margaret
        January 2, 2016

        ” realise that most of our big problems are made in Westminster not Brussels”

        This is what disturbs me most.

        1. Denis Cooper
          January 2, 2016

          Of course most of our big problems are rooted in Westminster, one of those big problems being the willingness of its denizens to tolerate the legal subordination of our country to Brussels.

          1. getahead
            January 2, 2016

            Absolutely Denis. At least once out of the EU we can vote out those who displease us, whereas the Brussels bureaucrats are unassailable.

        2. Timaction
          January 2, 2016

          Mandelson also believes we are “beyond democracy”. What weasel words. I think the return of significant policy areas and our sovereign democracy are worth a fight.
          If it’s shown that the problems then emanate from Westminster they can be blamed and removed unlike now. We cannot get rid of any of the Commissioner’s or 5 Presidents!

          1. A different Simon
            January 3, 2016

            “We are now entering the post democratic age” ….

            …. should be one of the central themes of the OUT campaign .

            People need to know that if they vote to stay in the EU they are giving away their children’s right to democracy .

            People need to know that the EU commission makes the actual decisions and is appointed and that the European Parliament they get to vote for is a sham .

        3. turbo terrier
          January 2, 2016


          When we leave the EU then Westminster and all it supposedly stands for is going to have to get their A’s into gear PDQ as like when the Scots get their independence they will have no one else to blame.

          Bring it on

      2. Denis Cooper
        January 2, 2016

        Why do you suppose that they don’t already realise that?

      3. Mitchel
        January 2, 2016

        Oh so very,very true!A vote to leave is only the first,baby step to freedom,the first step in what,given almost the whole of the Establishment is against us, will effectively be a revolution and,as the most interesting of the Jacobins,Louis-Antoine de Saint-Juste,said :”Those who make revolutions by halves,do but dig their own graves”.

      4. Lifelogic
        January 2, 2016

        There is little doubt that tax, borrow and piss down the drain, endless over regulation & taxation. appallingly run public services and endless green crap from Westminster is hugely damaging too.

        But at least we have some control over Westminster, far too weak controls alas.

    2. Denis Cooper
      January 2, 2016

      Of course, “it’s nothing whatsoever to do with the EU”, we’re familiar with that cry. Even when it’s proved beyond any reasonable doubt that it is something to do with the EU that makes no difference at all, if it’s something bad then it’s still the case that “it’s nothing whatsoever to do with the EU”.

      I wouldn’t vote to leave the EU because I thought that I might be ¬£300 a year better off; even though I believe that we will actually be a lot better off than that just in economic or financial terms that is not why I will vote to leave.

      The blood shed and the suffering endured by earlier generations to establish some kind of democratic system of government in this country, defective though may be, is beyond any price I can name, and that is why I am not prepared to stand idly by while we are legally subjugated in the anti-democratic pan-European federation which is the end objective of the EU’s process of “ever closer union”.

      If you are one of the small minority of the citizens of this country who actually want more “ever closer union” with our neighbours, if you actually want our country to become part of a pan-European federation, a sovereign federal United States of Europe, then of course you must vote to remain in the EU and if you win the referendum you will get what you want.

      1. Dame Rita Webb
        January 2, 2016


        Please refer me to the relevant EU directives that told us to:

        * Invade Iraq and Afghanistan (France and Germany stayed well clear of that one)
        * Open the border to the Third World
        * Debauch the value of Sterling (the most enthusiastic money printers in the OECD are not EU members)
        * Introduce “gay marriage”

        I am voting for out regardless of the ¬£300, Westminster will find ways of wasting any dividend before we get our hands on it. You are deceiving yourself if things are going to get better once we are out. The real battle is with the liberal “deep state” at home.

        1. Denis Cooper
          January 3, 2016

          Of course I could just unscrupulously invent some numbers for the relevant Directives and suggest that you could search them out on the EU website and study them in detail, on the assumption that you probably wouldn’t have the time or the inclination to do that and so you would have no proof that I was spouting garbage.

          However instead of doing that – as if I would – I will just take the first case you mention and briefly explain why there could not have been any Directives about those military actions under the present EU treaties, in particular the Treaty on European Union or TEU:


          And that is because while in accordance with the statement of intent in the preamble to the treaty Article 24 starts with:

          “The Union’s competence in matters of common foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relating to the Union’s security, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence.”

          it then goes on to say:

          “The common foreign and security policy is subject to specific rules and procedures. It shall be defined and implemented by the European Council and the Council acting unanimously, except where the Treaties provide otherwise.”

          and then expressly:

          “The adoption of legislative acts shall be excluded.”

          Directives being one of several kinds of “legislative acts”.

          But of course that is only under the present EU treaties, which are intended to represent a sort of “proto-federal” transitional phase on the way to a full-blown federal United States of Europe with its own federal armed forces, and here is Schaueble only last week:


          “”Ultimately our aim must be a joint European army. The funds that we spend on our 28 national armies could be used far more effectively together,” Schaeuble was quoted as saying.

          Earlier this year, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker also called for the gradual establishment of an EU army.

          He said the European Union needs its own army to help address the problem that it is not ‚Äútaken entirely seriously‚ÄĚ as an international force.”

          I have zero confidence in our politicians to stop this happening if we vote to remain in the EU.

  3. Anonymous
    January 2, 2016

    Perhaps Mr Mandelson should work with Mr Cameron. Their aims seem remarkably similar. And Mr Cameron’s complete omission of immigration from his New Year’s speech is very Blairist.

    The attraction to vote Conservative was put more bluntly than you say when UKIP looked to be making gains. I recall it being “We are the only party that can deliver a referendum. UKIP can’t do this.” Thereafter UKIP’s fortunes waned.

    I believe that it is a referendum that most of your voters want. Not renegotiations with the EU.

    1. Mark B
      January 2, 2016

      That and the treat of a Labour & SNP coalition.

      1. Anonymous
        January 2, 2016

        UKIP did more damage to Labour than the Tories. So many ex Labour voters want a referendum too.

  4. Mike Stallard
    January 2, 2016

    “to ask if past military interventions have been helpful.”
    Well the West armed the Taliban against Saddam. We then armed Saddam. Then we armed the Iraqi army which simply ran away leaving all the military equipment for IS.
    Some record!
    I do not think the Iranian/Syrian/Palestinian arms industry produces that many weapons really.
    I have been a cradle conservative all my life, with one or two blips. I do not think we understand the Middle East any more now like we once used to – although even so there are Afghanistan and Kut to remember. I am with the Beast of Balsover myself: KEEP OUT.
    On the EU – we need to leave, not suddenly, but thoughtfully and in accordance with Dr Richard North’s excellent Flexcit plan. Yup, I know you and he are at loggerheads. To me, both of you are excellent commentators.

    1. Backofanenvelope
      January 2, 2016

      It is as well to get your facts straight. The Americans armed the Taliban to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. The only western country to arm Saddam Hussain was the ever helpful France. We should disentangle ourselves from the Americans.

  5. Ian wragg
    January 2, 2016

    Mandleson is on the EU payroll and has to promote it to remain so. It is time the public were told who receives what from Brussels as they all have vested interests.
    I don’t know why the Blairites don’t join you as Cameron is just following on from Bliar.
    I despise Corbyn but at least he shows some principles. Unlike CMD.

    1. bigneil
      January 2, 2016

      With DC’s long record of saying one thing then doing the opposite – should CMD be changed from Call Me Dave . .to . . Contradict Myself Dave?

    2. Lifelogic
      January 2, 2016

      I do not despise Corbyn, indeed I agree with his anti-war stance and even a few other stances he takes, or has taken in the past. The main problem is that his economic policies would cause huge harm, especially to the people he purports to want to help. He is just totally deluded over human nature, real science and economics.

      The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

      1. Peter Davies
        January 2, 2016

        And his brother is quite a good scientist

        1. Lifelogic
          January 2, 2016

          He is certainly sound on the catastrophic global warming alarmism.

        2. Lifelogic
          January 2, 2016

          Well at least he is sound on the absurd, global warming,catastrophe alarmism.

  6. Antisthenes
    January 2, 2016

    As you say the loyal opposition’s job is to point out where they disagree with government policy and why and propose alternative policies. By and large opposition parties do this but how well depends on a number of factors. Not least among them is the quality of the MPs that make up that party and what is their position when a choice has to be made by them between their party or their country.

    Regrettably most MPs especially on the left choose the former before the latter. Some indeed are quite happy to sacrifice the latter for their own political ends. Therefore loyal opposition is not very often doing in practice what it is designed to do in theory.

  7. Margaret
    January 2, 2016

    A few points arise from this. Everyone is allowed an opinion , not just the official opposition. Views can be heard from all media to enable those who vote to come to a decision, not just a party decision. If it was myself voting I simply would not go along with the flow for the sake of the party. It is people above party, yet politicians listen to the views of others in order to come to their political decision.

    It was a strong move of Mr Corbyn’s to allow a free vote as he knew it would be perceived to be weak and put his party to a democratic test against his own political career . He did not use bullying tactics ; he used fairness.

    Mr Mandleson is a clever, articulate man , yet I do believe he is wrong in full integration . It is his precision and views which get him into trouble and he is not afraid to voice them.

    The Iraq war and Blair were lambasted after the event where many did not understand that cities are shattered , lives destroyed when a war is in full flow yet were all for it at the time as we were led to believe that terror and nuclear arsenal were imminently to be directed at Europe. I agreed with Blair’s harsh stance at the time. Reflection on the events and the chaos which followed and still follows, demonstrates emotive issues only come to a head by the majority of observers many years after when suffering actually gets through to the hard exterior of those who can only think of the big ‘I’. One goes with the evidence they have and are often used in that way. We were justified into the action which protected ourselves given the evidence.

    Apart from my comments which seem as though my views are opposite to you I do agree with you on most things but I have an outsiders view in that I am not a politician.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 2, 2016

      If I had been an MP I would have voted to expel Saddam from Kuwait and I would have voted again to follow that up with the occupation of Iraq and his overthrow. I would not have voted to encourage people in Iraq to rise up against him and then watch as they were massacred. But as the removal of Saddam was not done at that most opportune time I would not have voted to later have another go and invade Iraq on what were already dubious, and later proved to be almost completely false, pretences, and nor would I have voted to follow up that invasion of Iraq by an attack on Iran as was soon being mooted. Even though it hasn’t been used for a long time there is still a parliamentary procedure for impeachment and I would certainly vote for Blair to be impeached for deceiving the House and taking us into war on a lie. It’s a disgrace that MPs have let him get away with that.

  8. Douglas Carter
    January 2, 2016

    It’s disturbing in a manner that Mandelson is in a political position that his stance and influence still needs discussion.

    In strict terms of Parliamentary participation, Mandelson’s historic involvement was fairly brief – the period in which an electorate could demand accountability from this individual limited solely to a few years. Yet his longer-term input on the conduct of a major political party remained in place. Input which both preceded his Parliamentary career, and remained long after. Taking polar tribal considerations out of it, this cannot be right in a process which is supposed to identify as ‘democratic’.

    If Mr. Mandelson wishes to take the reins of Policy conduct, then let him stand before an electorate at the next opportunity. As should Politicians of an age past if they wish to indulge their personal vote-losing hobby-horses by airing them resentfully in public yet once again. In terms – and invoking a useful phrase of ironic origins – such people should put up, or shut up.

  9. agricola
    January 2, 2016

    MPs ,first and foremost, owe their allegiance to their constituents. If this coincides with the party line all well and good. When it doesn’t then they need real courage. Whipping is redolent of public schools and trade unions. Totally pass√© in the modern world of information overload.

    The great crime of which the majority of MPs are guilty is in being complicit in the euthanasia of our democracy and sovereignty through Statutory Instruments. The current conservative government aid and abet this means of imposing EU law on the citizens of the UK without discussion in Parliament, and they do it every day of the week. We have reached the point where it is reasonable to ask , not whether we need an English Parliament, but whether we need a Parliament at all.

    Forget the machinations of Mandelson, Blair, Heseltine and Major, they are all yesterdays men and irrelevant. Concentrate on informing the electorate of the deadly avalanche that is the EU and concentrate on getting us out by keeping us informed of the arachnoiditis that is the EU.

    Are you aware that the greatest participant sport in the UK is fishing. Sea anglers are now at risk of a £50,000 fine for catching Sea Bass from our shores or from sports fishing boats. All of this slipped under the radar and parliament by Statutory Instrument. No discussion, no consultation, this is now the law. However if you own a factory trawler and operate outside our twelve mile limit you can take as many Sea Bass in a day as the sport might catch in a year. Once trapped in a trawlers net they are dead, irrespective of size. When caught by responsible sport fishermen they mostly go back in the sea. Lest you think I have an axe to grind, I do not sport fish. The axe is the EU, Statutory Instruments and our quisling government.

    Reply Important Statutory Instruments require a debate and vote of the Commons before becoming law. Less important ones pass by the negative resolution procedure, which means the Opposition if it wishes can insist on a debate and vote on them if they disagree with them. The fishing/EU SI would have passed because the government had a duty under EU law to do so, and the Opposition as always did not want to make a fuss when the stupid policy came from Brussels.

    1. ian wragg
      January 2, 2016

      Why didn’t the government oppose these fishing measures.
      Brought in under the radar again and only Farage making them public.

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 2, 2016

        I don’t know the details but it would almost certainly have been majority voting and even if the UK government had opposed it they could not have vetoed it and could have been outvoted on it.

      2. turbo terrier
        January 2, 2016

        Ian Wragg

        Look on the bright side, with over a million rod and line fishermen enjoying their hobby off of the beach this result should give the no vote over a million supporters.

    2. agricola
      January 2, 2016

      Reply to Reply.

      You would seem to more or less agree with what I have said, but defining the process more clearly. How many occasions in the past six years has an EU law requirement, subject to Statutory Instrument been thrown out by Parliament and the EU been told NO. I suspect not often if ever.

    3. Denis Cooper
      January 2, 2016

      JR, we know that Parliament should relieve the government of the duty to implement whatever may come from Brussels, however stupid. And we know that back in May 2006 Cameron gave official support to an amendment tabled by Bill Cash which would have authorised ministers to disapply EU laws, I mentioned that again only the other day:


      But we also know that in the summer Hammond completely ruled out the idea that Parliament should have the power of veto over all EU laws, as we were promised would always be the case during the 1975 referendum, and said that there was no intention of trying to negotiate that:


      “Philip Hammond rejects Tory MPs’ demand for veto over EU laws”

      “Foreign secretary says ‚Äėunilateral red card veto‚Äô is not negotiable, responding to Conservatives for Britain group”

    4. Mark B
      January 2, 2016

      Reply to reply

      OK then, name me one SI Law that the government and / or opposition opposed from the EU that was overruled by our parliament ?

      Reply Parliament usually votes for them because Labour supports it all – that is the whole point! When we were last in opposition Labour had a large majority.

      1. Mark B
        January 2, 2016

        Reply to reply.

        Thank you for answering my question, at least in part. You simply cannot keep blaming Labour all the time, they were only in office between 1997 – 2010. The Conservatives have been in power before them from 1979 – 1997, far far longer and in the EU too !

        In short, for whatever reason, parliament have NEVER voted against an EU Law via SI’s.

        Once again, many thanks.

        1. Frank.salmon
          January 2, 2016

          Because of the WETS, stupid

      2. ian wragg
        January 2, 2016

        Nothing to do with the majority of Tory M.P’s voting for them then.

  10. David Murfin
    January 2, 2016

    ” His [Corbyn’s] decision to allow such a free vote meant Parliament was not going to provide any serious challenge or check on the current government‚Äôs wish to pursue military action.”
    It meant a substantial majority in favour of government policy, while a whipped vote against might have led to its overthrow with a majority of members in favour.
    Do you approve of that?

    Reply I think it is usually best for the opposition to oppose and to seek to attract government side rebels to win.

  11. Mark B
    January 2, 2016

    Good morning.

    These is so much wrong with this piece that I hardly know where to begin. Line after line of absolute nonsense.

    Lord Mandelson’s stance on the EU is quite simple really, he was once a former EU Commissioner and, as such has to swear allegiance too the EU even over the interests of his own country or, as they say in EU parlance; “The country I know best.”

    Lord Mandelson, despite no longer being an EU Commissioner, is still bound by that oath. Even in so called retirement he has to promote the EU and cannot speak against it. Should he do so, he would lose all benefits, such as a generous tax free pension, that come with being a former EU Commissioner. All this explains his position but does not in anyway justify it in my view. Therefore, I cannot understand why Lord Heseltine and Sir John Major behave in mush the same way ?

    Lastly. There is no Left or Right anymore. Just us and them !

    Reply I think the EU would find it difficult to take away pension rights if former employees misspeak.

    1. David Ashton
      January 2, 2016

      Reply to reply. I think you should ask Bernard Connelly.

    2. Denis Cooper
      January 2, 2016

      He wouldn’t have been appointed as a Commissioner if there had been any doubt about his primary allegiance already being to the EU not the UK.

    3. APL
      January 2, 2016

      Mark B: “Lord Mandelson, despite no longer being an EU Commissioner, is still bound by that oath ”

      Oaths mean nothing to men who have no honor.

      Mark B: “There is no Left or Right anymore. Just us and them !”


    4. Peter Davies
      January 2, 2016

      Wouldn’t it be good if someone was brave enough to stand up and test it?

      Money always talks

      Also if UK pulled out and stopped paying Eu Contributions I wonder who would footsteps bill for the likes of kinnock, Ashton. Mandelson etc?

    5. Mark B
      January 2, 2016

      Reply to reply

      Difficult, but no impossible as we come to see when the UK gets things written into treaties only for them to be overturned.

  12. alan jutson
    January 2, 2016

    Afraid Mr Mandleson always thinks he is right, even when history proves he is wrong.

    The one thing Mr Mandleson always seems to get right, is that he nearly always seems to benefit on a personal basis from his arguments.

    Of course he favours the EU, his income/pension is based on it continuing.

    Of Course he towed the Blaire line, he was paid as a Minister to do so, and like most Prime Ministers they tend to like yes men in their team, hence his return (twice) after some questionable action.

    Mr Mendleson has a knack of picking the side that may benefit him, rather than the Country.

    An excellent Political manipulator, who presents his arguments very well.
    But is this the type of person we really want in power.

  13. William Long
    January 2, 2016

    It seems to me that the political ethoi of Cameron, Blair and Manelson are remarkably similar: they have all been prepared to do whatever it takes to get elected regardless of principal. That is why one has to repect Messrs E Milliband and Corbyn for daring to propose a real alternative. In 2015 the electorate was given a clear choice and came down in favour of the status quo.
    As you say, Corbyn has perhaps shown his true colours by compromising on the Syria and EU issues. I think the real question one has to ask about him is, is his opposition loyal to the Crown, or is he after some form of revolution?

  14. Ken Moore
    January 2, 2016

    I agree with Dr Redwood… but the elephant in the room he misses , that supports this state of affairs is political correctness. PC has it’s hands around the throat of both the Labour and Conservative party’s. Cameron’s charade of Eu reform doesn’t hide his true colours. He is an enthusiastic cheerleader for all things Blairite.

    This kind of enforcement of ‘group-think’ is a worrying trend. Who do these Blairites think they are setting themselves up as guardians of ‘the right thing to do’.
    It’s essentially an anti democratic, creepy construct to shut down debate inspired by Marxist thinking .It’s easy to see why Mr Mandelson absolutely loves the Eu and it’s elite.

    Meanwhile Mr Letwin has been forced to apologise for making the obvious point that individuals are entirely responsible for their own actions.

    “Riots, criminality and social disintegration are caused solely by individual characters and attitudes. So long as bad moral attitudes remain, all efforts to improve the inner cities will founder.

    Would all of those calling for Mr Letwin’s apology be happy to walk the streets of Brixton at night time unaccompanied, be confident they would never encounter any ‘bad moral attitudes’ ?. Liberals see the world as they would like it to be not as it really is.

    1. Ben Kelly
      January 2, 2016

      “Would all of those calling for Mr Letwin‚Äôs apology be happy to walk the streets of Brixton at night time unaccompanied, be confident they would never encounter any ‚Äėbad moral attitudes‚Äô ?. Liberals see the world as they would like it to be not as it really is.

      This refusal to see the world as it actually is by our ruling Liberati, their apparatchiks and other bleeding hearts who do not bear the costs of their self-flagellating policies can not be repeated often enough.

      The world is real and we need practical solutions for the many not for the few.

      1. Dame Rita Webb
        January 2, 2016

        Balls, I would not walk around certain parts of the West End of Newcastle which until recently was 100% white. While there are certain residents of the St Paul’s area of Bristol, who came to the UK in the 50s/60s, who are more “British” in their values and behaviour than the locals. I would rather have them as a neighbour than somebody like Osborne anytime.

        1. Anonymous
          January 2, 2016

          I hope that was pronounced New-cassel (rhymes with ‘tassle’)

          Easy going (so called) Geordies get rather prickly if you don’t get it right. Shame they don’t bother to reciprocated by the correct pronunciation of London as ‘Laandin’.

          I’m glad they’re catching up with the rest of the UK’s diversity – at last.

  15. Denis Cooper
    January 2, 2016

    I haven’t really detected any significant shift in the official attitude of the Labour party towards the EU since Corbyn became leader, and if/when the referendum takes place I expect all of the Labour MEPs, and almost all of the Labour MPs and peers and members of the devolved assemblies, and most of the Labour local councillors, to be more or less active in campaigning to keep us in it on a variety of specious grounds.

    The reason for that is quite simple: it has been too long, more or less a generation, since anybody who was openly and strongly opposed to the EEC/EC/EU had much of a chance of being selected to contest any kind of public election on behalf of the Labour party, and opponents among the previous generations have mostly left the political arena in one way or another. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.

    And to a lesser extent the same is true of the Tory party. Yes, those Tories who have been elected at one level or another will be much more split than their Labour counterparts, but it will still be the case that the great majority of them will be prepared to follow their leader and campaign to keep us in the EU. Not so much the ordinary party members, though, the division will be much more even in their case.

    As for the LibDems, well, perhaps the less I say about them the better, as I don’t want to put JR to the trouble of editing my comment.

    1. Douglas Carter
      January 2, 2016

      No matter the relative subjective substance on what Mr. Cameron might bring back from his ‘renegotiation’; when that is concluded, it will have to be presented before Parliament for a vote. It’s traditional for Labour to ensure there is no actual standpoint available which can be pinned to them on the EU so I would guess there will be an organised session of abstaining, or effectively no debate at all from themselves on that occasion.

      To do otherwise would compel them to make public a proper contrary posture – or to agree with what Cameron returns with – which plenty of observers have suggested will be a re-named version of the already-known ‘Associate Membership’. AM as we know of it today comprises very serious flaws and Labour would find it exceedingly difficult to be public proponents of it so I think that’s why the ‘Official’ Labour Campaign to remain is led by (i) a back-bencher, and (ii) predicated on ‘making the wider case for Europe’ [sic]. It means their front-bench and the wider Labour Party remains safely uncontaminated by any evidence of attributable policy on the specific voting matter.

      Oddly enough, as per the early 1970’s where Labour pr0pped up Heath for close votes in the HoC, I think we’re due to see that again shortly. If the Referendum takes place in 2017 – the more likely year – if Mr. Cameron is to be opposed properly by HM. Opposition, it means weakening him in the polls. If they weaken him in the polls – traditionally that will mean weakening him in electoral terms. The pro-Labour part of that party can’t afford to see Cameron electorally weakened because there’s a real possibility that will reflect in a ‘leave’ vote returned by the Electorate.

      I’m verbose enough already so I’ll leave out a fairly obvious example of a senior Labour figure propping up Cameron in public in the election Campaign of last year – but when the wider Labour party begin to perceive it, it will make the blood-letting of the 1980’s look like a censored sneak preview.

      1. Denis Cooper
        January 2, 2016

        I’m assuming that there will at least be a Commons vote on the package before we are asked about it in the referendum, and maybe it will go beyond that to a full Act of Parliament to approve it subject to the referendum. If it involved any treaty changes then it would have to be an Act at some point.

  16. Bill
    January 2, 2016

    Agree. Why are men like Peter Mandleson given air-time whenever they want? It is either because he has backstairs connections with the BBC or because he can be guaranteed to support the zeitgeist. I look at his dismissals from political posts in Britain and wonder what on earth he is doing in the House of Lords. By what merit is he there?

    In my opinion he represents much that is wrong with British politics. He has of course family connections, given that Herbert Morrison was his grandfather and belongs to that class of professional politicians who have not served us well.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 2, 2016

      You ask:- Why are men like Peter Mandleson given air-time whenever they want?

      Because like Major they are on “BBC think” message namely pro EU, pro bloated government, pro “equality” and redistribution, pro un-selective immigration, pro the catastrophic warming religion and expensive energy, pro over regulation of everything, pro magic money tree economics, anti democracy ….

      The fact that they have been wrong time and time again makes no odds to the BBC.

      No only do they get air time but they are never even properly questioned. What would you like to say to the nation today Sir? Is the sort of question they get at the BBC.

    2. turbo terrier
      January 2, 2016


      “In my opinion he represents much that is wrong with British politics.”

      Should that not read, all that is wrong?

  17. Bert Young
    January 2, 2016

    The one thing I have in common with the discredited Mandelson is “rebellion” . His desire to remove Corbyn is as keen as mine to replace Cameron . Corbyn seems to be a principled individual , Cameron is a feather that blows in what ever direction the wind takes him . I would never vote for the likes of Corbyn and all that he stands for , equally I will never vote for any Conservative who supports Cameron .

    This year my resolutions include doing what I can to rid us of the tentacles that string around our necks from the EU , another includes getting rid of Cameron whom I consider the worse Prime Minister we have ever had . I want a leader of the Conservatives who is a person of integrity and whose experience includes a substantial background before becoming Political . I want to vote Conservative again but only if the Party is under someone I respect .

  18. Iain Gill
    January 2, 2016

    The whole labour party edifice is vulnerable for more fundamental reasons. The biggest is the disconnect with their support base over immigration. Then we have the rubbish service provision in areas they control from child abuse scandals to rubbish health provision actively killing people. Their support base don’t like being forced to live in areas with no jobs, or have no choice over their kids school or GP. They don’t like religious segregation in the school system. They don’t like the cronyism or corruption. On none of these issues is labour actually speaking up for the people they were formed to represent. A better conservative party would have much bigger victories.

    1. Dame Rita Webb
      January 2, 2016

      I cannot see why you are having trouble finding a GP. They get paid more the more punters they have on their books (around £75 per patient). Now NHS dentists are a different kettle of fish.

      1. Iain gill
        January 3, 2016

        I am only allowed to choose from the gp’s closest to my home address. I am hardly ever there as I work away. The gp’s in my catchment area are crap. None of this is good for the patients where the real buying power needs returning.

      2. Iain gill
        January 3, 2016

        But private dentists can issue an NHS prescription but a private GP cannot, that’s how mixed up and incoherent our system is.

  19. Boudicca
    January 2, 2016

    Mandelson, like many other members of the House of Donors and Cronies, has taken the EU’s shilling. (Which these days turns out to be ¬£millions.)

    He swore loyalty to the EU and his EU pension depends on him continuing to actively support the aims and ambitions of the EU. He doesn’t work in the interests of the British people.

    The British people need to wake up to the fact that neither Labour nor the Tory Elite want the UK to be an independent, self-governing, democratic country. They all want the UK to be in the EU and controlled by an Oligarchy which is above democracy.

    I have never supported Labour. But if Corbyn had stuck to his guns and pledged to take the UK out of the EU if he won the 2020 General Election, I have held my nose and voted Labour for the first time ever.

    I will not vote Conservative until it pledges to take us out of the EU and finds itself a Leader who can be trusted to do it.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 3, 2016

      I see the EU partly as an oligarchic reaction to the spread of universal suffrage, which was reckoned to give too much power to ordinary people. Once the masses had been given the vote it would not be politically feasible to openly reverse that, but their votes in national elections could be rendered increasingly worthless.

      According to Lord Tebbit speaking at a public meeting Heath told his cabinet colleagues that joining the EEC would have the benefit of tying the hands of any future Labour government and so preventing the overturn of capitalism.

      And since Corbyn became the Labour leader rather similar sentiments have been expressed in some comments on this blog.

  20. Peter Davies
    January 2, 2016

    I think there needs to be a central register like the HOC for all public figures like mandelson to declare their sources of income where it comes either directly or indirectly from vested EU interests. So many EU enthusiasts seem to be on some pay roll or pension to keep their loyalties, totally wrong.

    At the moment these things are left to the media

    Reply The House of Lords does have a register of interests and I am sure Lord Mandelson complies with its terms.

  21. Brigham
    January 2, 2016

    I always wondered how a twit like Mandleson ever got into a powerful position. Mind you I wonder about half the commons and all the Lords.

    1. WillH
      January 2, 2016

      Only half the commons?

  22. Joan Varc
    January 2, 2016

    Mr Redwood,
    I stumbled upon your blog about six months ago. Not only do I find it very informative and interesting, but it also serves to remind me just how foolish I was in the past when I believed in the paradise that Socialism was about to create. Ironically, there’s much that’s awful and corrupt in the institutions of England that Erich Honecker, the leader of the German Democratic Republic, would recognise and approve of and who’d have thought that?
    I live in the middle of Birmingham and nowadays no longer vote, as postal voting fraud makes my vote worthless, so your blog is important to me as it clearly and concisely sets out the case for democracy – for that, many thanks.
    Driving through the Cotswolds yesterday, I came across Morris Dancing outside a pub and then encountered the very muddy members of a local Hunt and I was reminded of a line in the 1944 Powell and Pressburger film, “A Canterbury Tale”, when Sheila Sim says, “Oh…. What wouldn’t I give to grow old in a place like that?” Indeed….
    All the Best to you

    Reply Thanks for your kind words about this blog. Tyranny just needs all who believe in freedom to give up.

  23. ian
    January 2, 2016

    That’s why voting for parties is bad for the people health of this country and bad for their pockets.
    Even if you vote for the local drunk at elections you can always replace them, you can not replace a party once elected, you will fined out one day that voting for independent people who have no party are better at taking your vote to parliament.
    A independent would not of give your country away in the first place and run up all the big bills for you to pay, on top of all the wars and fiddling that go on in yours the peoples name and your parliament being controlled by outside influences you know nothing about.
    Your politicians have been wrong on nearly everything how can that be.

  24. ian
    January 2, 2016

    I think it would be a good idea if every polling area in these isles which is going to be 600 seats soon, from 650 seats and as the con party leader is saying, not a single con party MP will lose their seat, that each polling area has a referendums on every vote that taking place in parliament before or after the vote in parliament to see if the politician guess right on how the people would of voted.
    It can be done just like partitions to parliament , at home on your computer or with your local council

  25. DaveM
    January 2, 2016

    Regarding what Ian Wragg says about publishing exactly what various people’s vested interests in the EU are; why not? It would be most illuminating and would no doubt be published extensively in the Mail, the Express and the Sun – like it or not the three main papers most likely to support Leave. One column from Littlejohn or Kavanagh does more for Leave than one might imagine.

    Peter Mandleson may be wheeled out by the BBC along with Major, Heseltine, and various other has-beens in their desperation to scare people into voting Remain, but in reality he’s an irrelevance unless you happen to be obsessed with Labour Party internal politics.

    I’m bored with the propaganda already. People are now laughing openly about the BBC’s unashamedly biased propaganda and at Cameron’s pathetic grovelling to His EU masters. The best thing would simply be to produce a non-biased programme explaining what the future will look like in and out of the EU. The public are not that easily swayed by washed up career politicians and right-on BBC reporters. They will make up their own minds when presented with facts.

  26. forthurst
    January 2, 2016

    “The first is the UK‚Äôs willingness to undertake military action in the Middle East against regimes or Islamic groupings it dislikes.”

    Speaking as an Englishman, I do not recall at any stage my dislike of the regimes that have had the neocon scum frothing at the mouth; these people do not speak for my country, they speak for a treasonous minority who believe they can buy our foreign policy by attempting to ensure that only those politicians who have treasonous tendencies themselves are elected as party leaders; that is why the reptilian Mandelson is hostile to Corbyn. That is why CMD became leader of the Conservative Party.

    “Lord Mandelson argues that to be a serious party of government Labour needs to be nearer the centre, which he claims is in support of more military intervention, and in support of more EU intervention in our lives.”

    In fact those who wish to wage war without a legitimate casus belli, those that wish to abase us before the monstrous EU, those that would open our borders to destroy our culture and our prosperity, they are the extremists. Unfortunately, the populus at large, when they are told by the same people, that those that oppose their malign policies are the extremists, they believe them, especially when that it is reinforced by the fully infiltrated BBC.

  27. DaveM
    January 2, 2016

    Talking about unpopular policies,

    1. No help for steel workers due to slavish adherence to EU rulings.

    2. No dredging and minimum cash for flood defences.

    3. Countless billions for overseas aid.

    4. Refusal to address the immigration crisis.

    5. Now £57 million to prosecute the very soldiers that the Westminster establishment sent to war.

    Is your party actively trying to lose the next election or are these more examples or Cameron’s Blair/Mandleson style ‘I know best and I’m doing it whether you like it or not’ activities?

    1. Anonymous
      January 2, 2016

      The prosecution of troops is puke making.

  28. Original Richard
    January 2, 2016

    The country does not have an Opposition.

    In all the big issues of EU membership/who governs, continued mass immigration, tax and spend policies, military interventions in the Middle East, the wish for England to disappear and be split into EU regions etc. there is no difference between the two main parties.

    The reasons for the support of these policies and the path to be taken to achieve them may differ but the eventual destination is the same.

    For this reason if the people of this country wish to see a proper functioning democracy with an effective Opposition they need to stop voting for the two main parties.

    1. Peter Parsons
      January 3, 2016

      Richard, millions voted for alternatives to the two main parties but, as a consequence of an electoral system designed in the 1950s for a world when there were only two choices, parliament doesn’t reflect this, and won’t until there is real reform of the system.

      Of course, reform requires those very same politicians who stand to lose the most (their inherent electoral advantage) if reform happens to agree to it, so they do everything they can to defend and protect the status quo. In the meantime, as the post above by Joan Varc illustrates only too well, there are millions and millions of disenfranchised voters of all political persuasions (and none) who feel that their voice is excluded. Why did more than a third of the electorate not vote in the 2015 general election? For many, it is because they consider their vote to be worthless and useless.

      More than half a million people signed a petition calling for reform, only to be met by deafening silence by this government. In every poll I’ve seen recently on the matter, a majority of the electorate want reform, yet the minority in power continue to deny it to us. However, I do believe that one day reform will come, that everyone will have a vote that counts for something, and I hope I am still around to see it.

      Reply Scotland voted SNP and got SNP. This shows that a third party with a cause can break through in a FPTP system. People who voted Lib Dem are now represented by Conservative MPs who have a duty to deal with their problems and to take their views into account.

      1. Peter Parsons
        January 6, 2016

        The difference in the vote share between the SNP and the 3 main pro-union parties was only about 6%. There are Scottish constituencies where the majority of votes were cast for pro-union parties, yet those voters are represented by a nationonalist. Is that SNP MP going to advocate a pro-union line at Westminster? I very much doubt it, and therein lies one of the fundamental flaws of single-member FPTP – the idea that one person can advocate views and vote accordingly for an electorate with diverse opinions, even in cases where the majority view is opposite to that of the elected representative. One reason why I think that fewer, larger multi-member constiuencies would serve the electorate much better as having multiple representatives to approach, likely from a choice of parties, gives us voters more chance of finding an advocate sympathetic to our view. This could be achieved without increasing the number of MPs simply by having fewer, larger constituencies.

        The SNP also secured less than half the votes cast in Scotland, yet have almost all the MPs, another flaw of FPTP, that the largest minority are given power over the remaining majority. Of course, such an outcome may suit the political interests of some others (not just the SNP), but is clearly not representative of the Scottish electorate as a whole.

        I’d also assert that the SNP are not a third party in Scotland, they are half of the Scottish two-party system. The third parties in Scotland are the Conservatives and the LibDems.

  29. sameen farouk
    January 3, 2016

    This is an eloquent rebuttal. I look forward to thr debate between you and Lord Mandelson when the eu referendum campaign kicks off.

    January 9, 2016

    (personal allegations about various people removed ed).

    Not sure if Mr Osborne had anything to lose or indeed if he has any achievements. He seems to have changed his tune about the state of the economy in the space of a week. People blame China. But they are still planting rice and rearing large freshwater golden fish in flooded areas as they have done since well before Christ. So I figure it may be Saudi Arabia revealing its true hand recently which has caused major upset.
    The Labour Party can well do without being a clone of the Conservative Party but with red tinsel. The Scots were calling them Red Tories. Now Mr Corbyn faces the “catastrophe”…”strife”…”danger” of the Red Tories resigning from his Cabinet en masse. He does not look the least bit frightened. There’s a noticeable hopeful gleam in his eye.

    The only way for the Labour Party to be an “Effective Opposition” is if it is an opposition.
    If the Tory Party wishes to bomb Syria, stay in the EU, keep a budget surplus, ensure private enterprise flourishes yet provide for the NHS to be free at the point of use…how can a Labour Party be in “Opposition” if it wishes the self-same things? Scottish voters have recognised it and voted SNP. South of the border, the SNP could stand in many constituencies and beat Labour hands down. Only Corbyn can save Labour. He is not a Tory.

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