I’ve just returned from a fascinating hour and a half breakfast with Peter Mandelson to talk about his new book The Third Man. From a professional point of view it was a great blogger relations initiative by publishers Harper Collins to invite a small number of ‘progressive’ (the words of their spokesperson) bloggers to a breakfast briefing where we were given exclusive access to some of the original source material from Peter’s book. Harper Collins won’t be giving these archive papers to mainstream media until Monday when they release the second wave of papers.
What I’ve received are copies of hand-written notes from and to Peter dating from between 1987 to 1997. I have studied them all in-depth yet, but the one I found most immediately of interest to me personally was Peter’s notes to Tony Blair about his thoughts on Clause IV.
For me this was a seminal moment for the Labour Party, when it threw off the shackles of dogma and returned to the true values and philosophies of its founding fathers and mothers. Personally, it was also the first time I became active in the Party beyond a purely personal level. I believed passionately in a new Clause IV that more truthfully reflected what the Party was really about. I campaigned hard, talking to members and going to speak at branch meetings and constituencies across the region to help convince members of the need for change.
I’ve uploaded the whole document, but have highlighted three of Peter’s notes:
‘In para 1 I do not like ‘solidarity, liberty and equality’ â€“ very old fashioned mantra. I do like ‘rights and responsibilities’, even ‘duty to others’.
"In para 2 ‘in the hands of the manyâ€¦’ sounds better but is it what we mean? Don’t we mean all? ‘â€¦ rather than birth’ at end sounds a bit funny.’
‘Remember this Constitution â€“ suitably poetic and Jerusalem-like â€“ is meant to get ordinary people to understand easily what we’re about + to vote for us’
I’m going to do two other posts on this. The next will be a more public relations focussed one and look at how Harper Collins did the blogger relations, which had some brilliant elements to it, but also elements that I think won’t work in terms of generating positive coverage, but might contribute to generating more overall ‘buzz’.
The second post will be an actual proper book review. But it’s a big book and I’m quite busy, so that might take a while! I’ve just finished the second chapter so far and my recommendation would definitely be â€“ read it! Yes, there are legitimate questions to ask about if this is the right time and what damage it does to the Labour Party, but if it was going to be published then now’s as good a time as any. And the Labour Party should be looking forward. If some people have behaved as they shouldn’t in the past then they’ve got to live with the consequences of their actions, justify them or apologise for them. Then we can all move and get on with re-connecting and defeating the Tory Lib Dem coalition.
I’ll also upload the rest of the documents, although I’ll probably be beaten to it as I can’t do it at the moment as the East Coast train wifi and my T-mobile signal are both too flaky (this post should have uploaded over an hour ago!)
And as requested by Peter, here is the Amazon link (disclaimer â€“ it’s an affiliate link so I’ll probably get tuppence if you buy it from here â€“ please do my three-year old daughter is growing out of her clothes!)
|The Third Man: Life at the Heart of New Labour|