Mandelson: We are in the fight of our lives

By politics.co.uk staff

Peter Mandelson called on Labour to follow his lead by achieving an unlikely comeback in his speech to the party’s autumn conference.

The first secretary of state admitted that the party was “in the fight of our lives” but chose to strike a personal touch as he outlined the extent of the challenge faced.

“I know that Tony said our project would only be complete when the Labour party learned to love Peter Mandelson,” he said. “I think perhaps he set the bar a little too high – though I am trying my best.”

He added: “If I can come back, we can come back.”

In an extended attack against the Conservatives, Lord Mandelson attacked shadow chancellor “Boy George” Osborne and urged delegates not to let the Tories “off the hook”.

As a key architect of New Labour he contrasted his party’s transformation with the lack of change seen in the Tory ranks.

And he attacked the Conservatives for their complete lack of understanding of the term “industrial activism”, announcing an extension of the car scrappage scheme with additional money for an extra 100,000 cars and vans.

Most of all, Lord Mandelson’s focus was on the Tories’ image problems. “Yes, they have made changes to their presentation. The image-making department has done its work and done it well. Who am I to criticise?” he said.

“But the Tories seem not to realise that change has to be more than a slogan. The first rule of any marketing strategy is that it must reflect the product it is selling.”

He finished by revealing he had always been able to predict, “deep down in my guts”, the winners of every general election in recent history – including Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s surprise 1992 defeat.

“This time, it is not cut and dried,” he said.

“This election is up for grabs. But if we show the British people that we have not lose the fighting spirit and appetite for change which has defined this party throughout its history then we can and will win.”