“Blairites for Browne”
It was I, after all, who had set up the Browne Review … I assumed, as the Treasury did, that the outcome would have to include a significant increase in tuition fees. I felt they would certainly have to double in order to offset the deficit-reduction measures that we too would have implemented had we won the election.
When the Bill came to the Lords, Mandelson writes:
I now felt that in all honesty I should support Browne’s conclusions, which seemed to be well thought-out, and the Coalition’s general direction of travel – though not their tripling of fees.
But Ed Miliband helped to persuade him not to “weigh in”. Now, however, Lord Mandelson feels he can say what he thinks. He reveals that he was nearly a member of a group that Conservative ministers were trying to organise, of “Blairites for Browne”. One minister approached David Miliband to see if he would be part of such an initiative, but the older brother laughed and said: “We fell for that once before.”
Mandelson is icily polite on the surface about the younger brother in his new preface, but is in fact rather rude, saying of Ed in government:
He shared Gordon’s preference for an alternative graduate tax, even when our research concluded that it was simply unworkable.
He also reveals that:
Ed’s frequent criticism to me about Gordon as Prime Minister was that he didn’t say and do what he really believed, that he was always trapped between his personal instincts and what he felt he could get away with, and that this was why people had such negative perceptions of him.
Which could be double-edged, because that is precisely the criticism that is beginning to develop about Ed Miliband: that he is being persuaded by his advisers to rein in his Harmanist instincts.
And Mandelson lends subtle support to the thesis that the Labour leader is indecisive:
From my own previous association with Ed, I knew he would think long and hard before he settled on a clear, consistent course of his own.
As he says:
Tagged in: contemporary history, peter mandelson
Ed was our leader. He was my leader. I would do all I could to help make his leadership a success.
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