Mandelson hails ‘energised’ Labour

By Alex Stevenson

Labour is not “exhausted” by its 13 years in power, Peter Mandelson has insisted.

The business secretary instead said the argument to support Labour, which is seeking a record fourth term in office at the general election, was stronger now than it was in 1997.

In a speech to Progress at the Commonwealth Club in central London, Lord Mandelson contrasted what he claimed was an “energised” and “optimistic” Labour party with the Conservative party.

“I know that when David Cameron became Tory leader he tried to lay claim to [progressive] credentials. But either he was insincere or the task proved too great. Either way, Mr Cameron has not transformed his party,” he said.

A “new consensus” based not on the Labour solutions of the 70s or the Tory solutions of the 80s and 90s has not been accepted by the Tories, Lord Mandelson argued.

It “makes the case for Labour far stronger even than in 1997, 2001 and 2005,” he insisted.

“Look at the last year. Labour is fighting this election on ideas… we believe this election is about a bright, renewed, British future.”

His speech revealed a key Labour argument against the Tories in the campaign – that their emphasis on tax cuts and spending cuts reveals the extent to which they have not changed.

“It’s the old Tory mantra – cut taxes, whatever the consequences for the deficit, whatever the implications in public spending, and that’s the way to secure growth,” he continued.

“In some ways it’s understandable. At their age, David Cameron and George Osborne have spent their whole adult lives in the most ideological Tory party in history. They spent the 80s saying ‘there is no alternative’ and presumably they still believe it.

“What else explains their ‘bargain basement’ approach to competitiveness?”

Lord Mandelson’s emphasis on Labour’s experience in government was reflected in his speech as much as it was in the deployment of the Cabinet behind Gordon Brown as he called the general election in Downing Street yesterday.

It is clear from today’s speech attacks against the Tories will dominate Labour’s strategy, though.

“A bit like the briefcase, David Cameron’s ideological baggage turned out to be following along behind in his car,” Lord Mandelson added.

“It was all about the angle of the photograph.or how you airbrushed it!”