Britain in Europe

Michael Keaney Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Tue Sep 18 07:04:22 MDT 2001


In recent months Mark Jones and I have been exploring the developing
relationships between, on the one hand, Britain and the EU, and, on the
other, Britain and the US. Mark posited the theory that, in fact, there
has been a severe rupturing of the "special relationship" spanning the
Atlantic and that the British state had thrown its lot in with Europe.
There is an extensive correspondence in the PEN-L archives to this
effect. A small item in last week's Guardian Weekly led me to dig out
this longer piece from The Observer, in which a notable development in
the cementing of Britain's place in Europe was highlighted. How all this
will work out in the light of subsequent events will be interesting, to
say the least.


Mandelson back as think-tank head

Kamal Ahmed, political editor

The Observer, 9 September 2001

The champagne corks at high-powered parties have not been popping with
quite the same regularity for Peter Mandelson since he resigned from the
Government. But the gentle rehabilitation of the former Northern Ireland
Secretary will continue apace this week when he is announced as the
chairman of one of the most high-powered, if little known, political
networks in the country. 

Mandelson is to lead the Policy Network, the left-of-centre organisation
which includes some of the most influential figures in Britain and
continental Europe. The list of its backers reads like a Who's Who of
the New Labour world. 

His new position was confirmed at a private dinner on Thursday night at
the well-known Westminster watering hole Shepherds. Among the guests
were Giuliano Amato, the former Italian Prime Minister, and Michael
Barber, the head of the Downing Street delivery unit and one of Tony
Blair's closest advisers. 

Mandelson has strongly denied that his movement back into the political
limelight reveals any designs on a return to Government. But he has
admitted he needs 'a full political role' after he lost his ministerial
job. 

'The Policy Network is not a way back into Government: it is part of the
alternative to Government,' he told The Observer . 'In effect I am
creating a new life for myself. This is mainly in my constituency and in
Parliament but when you have been absorbed as a Minister you do need
other things to fill your life. The Policy Network is one of those
things.' 

Officials with the Network admit its list of backers would make most
think-tanks 'green with envy'. Trustees include Lord Levy, Blair's envoy
to the Middle East and chief fundraiser for the Labour Party; Philip
Gould, Blair's personal pollster; and Anthony Giddens, the political
theorist who Blair has said most influenced his thinking. 

Andrew Adonis, a senior figure in the Downing Street policy unit, is on
the management board and the Network's journal is edited by Andrew Hood,
special adviser to Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence.
Sidney Blumenthal, former special adviser to Bill Clinton, is on the
editorial board. 

Invitations to its drinks parties are becoming the must-have for anyone
who wants to rub shoulders with some of the Left's biggest thinkers. 'If
it decides to have a Christmas party that is one invitation you would
drop anything for,' said one Labour Party figure connected to the
Network. 

Writers in the first issue of the Network's highly cerebral 'journal'
include Geoff Mulgan, the director of the performance and innovation
unit in the Cabinet Office, who answers directly to Blair, Gerhard
Schröder, the German Chancellor, and Andrew Rotherham, Clinton's former
education adviser. 

'The Policy Network does not originate policy like a conventional
think-tank,' Mandelson said. 'It enables policy makers to meet and
debate and exchange ideas so that policy is strengthened in practice. 

'The Network... needs to make more impact to exploit the full value of
its work.' 

Mandelson said he would be using the Network's high profile platform to
launch an attack on the policies of the anti-globalisation protesters. 

'The social movement opposed to globalisation is heading up a whole
number of cul de sacs,' he said. 'Nevertheless those of us on the Centre
Left need to rise to a higher level of engagement. We cannot reduce
important debate about serious matters to an issue of crowd control.' 

Mandelson has been slowly moving back into the political mainstream
since his resignation over the Hinduja passport scandal earlier this
year. Last week Blair used one of his first engagements on his return
from holiday to make a high-profile visit to Hartlepool, Mandelson's
constituency, where he was photographed with his close friend for the
first time since he forced Mandelson to quit. 

Full article at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4253041,00.html

Michael Keaney

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