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Pouncing on the Pussycat Parade

He may prowl like a cat and purr like a cat, and make out he’s soft and sweet in interviews, but Peter Mandelson’s ideological positioning gives him the impression of him more resembling a pawn, an eel or a rat, and gives me a shudder of disgust; and I’m glad to hear the Climate Rush non-Pussycat Dolls have seen fit to pounce on him :-

“Climate change campaigners stage protest at Mandelson’s home : Activists gather outside business secretary’s London home in ‘act of solidarity’ for 625 workers set to lose their jobs at the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight : Press Association,, Monday 10 August 2009 : Protesters against the closure of a wind turbine factory chained themselves to Lord Mandelson’s home today as the business secretary jetted back from Corfu to take control of the day-to-day business of government. Members of the Climate Rush campaign group gathered outside Lord Mandelson’s two-storey property in Regent’s Park, north London, in an “act of solidarity” for 625 workers set to lose their jobs at the Vestas factory in Newport, Isle of Wight. Ellie Robson, 21, a history undergraduate at Cambridge University, said she wanted to expose the government’s hypocrisy over climate change as she chained herself to railings outside his house…Lord Mandelson was pictured at the weekend enjoying the hospitality of Nathaniel Rothschild, but appeared to have avoided the political furore sparked by his Corfu break last year…In an interview published today by the Guardian, Lord Mandelson described himself more of a “kindly pussycat” than a “big beast” of politics. “I don’t really see myself as a big beast. More as a kindly pussycat. Yes, a kindly pussycat. I’m a kindly pussycat, with strong views about what we need to do,” he said. “I think 10 years ago, and also 15 years ago, I was a very hard-nosed, uncompromising figure who was manning the barricades of change in the Labour party, and prepared to take down anything or anyone who stood in the way,” he said. “I don’t feel in that mode now. And secondly, I’ve learned from experience that you can defeat people without killing them.”

“Series: The G2 interview : Peter Mandelson: ‘I had to be the hit man’ : Peter Mandelson tells Decca Aitkenhead why he used to be the hard man of New Labour … but now he’s just a pussycat : Decca Aitkenhead : The Guardian, Monday 10 August 2009 : The most accurate article Lord Mandelson ever read about himself was written in the 1990s. It was, he recalls, all about “Peter’s gang – how people wanted to be in Peter’s gang – and that people who weren’t really hated it and took it out on me for not being in my gang. The article said that I excluded people without knowing I was doing so, and that this bred resentment of me. It was very perceptive.” Did it make him more careful about upsetting people? He pauses for a fraction of a second, and slowly starts to smile. “I think,” he laughs, “history would suggest not…”

And now it’s my turn to get my velvet-coated claws out.

Let’s just recall where Peter Mandelson stands on Globalisation and Trade, shall we ?

“Much as people may think otherwise, the CAP [European Union Common Agricultural Policy] does not keep out the vast bulk of Africa’s agricultural exports, which is why 80% of sub-Saharan exports come to the EU…But these progressive policies have not made poverty history.”

That’s because this “trade” is basically a means to plunder Africa.

“EPAs [Economic Partnership Agreements under the Doha round of the WTO World Trade Organisation] have been designed to create the conditions for fostering sustainable development. They can do that, first, by actively promoting regional economic and market integration…I believe this European example can work in the developing world. EPAs are not about Europe trying to force open markets for our benefit or impose an ultra-liberal free trade ideology on poor countries.”

Yes, but they are, Peter. It’s all about making and locking-in “slave economies” in Africa.

Gradual trade liberalisation, first within an African, Caribbean or Pacific region, then leading to a progressive integration of these regions into the global economy, will allow developing countries to seize international trade and investment opportunities.”

Actually, the less developed economies cannot hope to compete advantageously, so will always get fleeced.

“…Crucially, alongside our economic partnership agreements, the EU will be helping African, Caribbean and Pacific economies diversify and develop by channelling development assistance to their productive base…”

This translates as “allowing large companies to make huge profits in poor countries”, as ably deconstructed by Susan George :-

“…Here I would like merely to touch on EU trade strategies, particularly the Economic Partnership Agreements [EPAs] under negotiation with ACP countries and the likely results – namely to increase poverty in some of the poorest countries in the world. “Free trade” is the most sacred of the neo-liberal doctrines and the EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson is a true believer. In October 2006, he launched the strategy “Global Europe” which concerns Europe’s place in the world through commerce. Particularly since the “Doha Round” of the World Trade Organisation has become stalled if not comatose, Mandelson has concentrated on bilateral and plurilateral negotiations and has given the Economic Partnership Agreement with the 78 African-Pacific-Caribbean countries his particular attention. The definition of “free trade” has shifted enormously in the past decade. Although lowering of tariffs on incoming goods is still an important component of trade agreements, what Mandelson and others refer to as “Beyond Borders Barriers” are as important if not more so. BBBs or “non-tariff barriers” in the European vocabulary mean any obstruction not only to sales of EU goods and services but also “barriers to investment” by European transnational corporations in any area. They want equality of access to government contracts and the elimination of government regulations Europe interprets as “disguised barriers to trade”. The WTO is also concerned with all these, but bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements are all “WTO Plus”, meaning that by definition they must allow freer movement and fewer “barriers” than WTO agreements do. All the successful, now-industrialised countries, including the most recent ones like Korea or Taiwan, reached their present economic status by protecting their infant industries, using targeted government spending and subsidies and maintaining tariffs often as high as 40 or 50 percent on incoming goods, but these protections are no longer allowed for newcomers. Some of the ACP countries, especially the poorer ones, receive a hefty slice of their revenues from tariffs but are now being asked to forego these without compensation. Mandelson’s chief aim, however, seems to be totally unrestricted entry for European transnationals, so he is calling for the dismantling of national investment codes so as to eliminate restrictions on the sectors a TNC [Transnational Corporation] can invest in, the number of investors allowed in each sector, quantitative or proportional limitations on investment [for example 49 percent] or repatriation of profits, requirements for local hiring and local content and so on. EPAs can only be described as “leonine”. So why do poor countries accept them, as many have done with a few notable exceptions like Senegal? They have signed because the EU has told them that if they don’t, their development aid will be cut and the EU will buy fewer of their products. It is also demanding access to government public procurement contracts, often reserved for local firms, as well as access to raw materials. No country seems too small or insignificant to pry open…”

The flows of commodities from the Global South to the Global North is one massive “buyer’s market”, where the value received by the seller does not compensate for the goods traded. Remember how the Europeans bought the land of America for coloured beads (or was it seashells ?)

Why does Peter Mandelson feel it is his duty to enforce continued deep exploitation of Africa and other regions ? Is it his position as the Great Defender of British Corporates ? Has his mind been corrupted with neoliberal dogma from the company he keeps ?

“Peter Mandelson: Handy Mandy : Editorial : The Guardian, Monday 10 August 2009 : Peter Mandelson is a unique figure in British politics. It is not only his extraordinary capacity to return from apparent political bankruptcy to the very top of a party in parts of which he is still cordially loathed. His admirers across the political spectrum say that his is probably the most subtle and creative political brain of his generation. But for a significant section in the party, he is the man who accommodated Thatcherism; who lives his own mantra of being “intensely relaxed” about the very rich with whom he holidays (again, this summer); and who is intimately associated with a pro-business agenda…”

As part of the Government’s commitments on Greening Up the Economy, naturally Peter Mandelson promotes British Business in their mission to sell green products, goods, technologies and services around the world. It’s all part of the neoliberal tenet of “competition” :-

“Chapter 9 : Climate change: the political and business challenge…This is not simply a question of the long term. As powerful as it is, the argument of the Stern Report and others that action now will ultimately save our economies from the long-term costs of unchecked global warming is very abstract for a business or individual. Our focus must instead be on the immediate economic benefits of the shift to low carbon, especially for those economies that are able to capture the first mover benefits. The politics of climate change need to both stress the business benefits of the transition to low carbon, and actively seek to prepare companies and workers to compete for and benefit from the opportunities that will come from that transition…government has a responsibility to ensure that UK-based companies are equipped to compete for the new demand created by government climate change policies. This means looking at the supply chain implications of its decisions to commit to renewables obligations, nuclear new build or greater energy efficiency standards. Where UK-based firms have the clear potential to compete to supply this demand, government should develop, in partnership with business, strategies for ensuring that funding for research and development, training for workers and finance for investment are available. This approach is part of the activist approach to equipping UK-based firms to compete in a globalised economy set out in the government’s New Industry, New Jobs paper in April 2009…”

“New Industry, New Jobs” :-

Accessing open global markets : 3.32 Britain’s trading strengths and its ability to access export markets will be central to Britain’s future prosperity. 60% of British productivity growth between 1996 and 2004 came from businesses that export…3.33 …Britain will also make the continued openness of the global trading system and the progressive removal of trade barriers a priority. 3.34 The Government will ensure that the scope and effectiveness of its assistance to UK companies, and especially small and medium sized businesses looking to break into new export markets remains of the highest calibre. UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) has acted as an extremely effective catalyst for UK exporters and will continue to be our chief means of doing this. 3.35 This year’s G20 London summit set out an ambitious programme to promote global trade and investment and reject protectionism…”

Selling dodgy Nuclear Power technology to India, or somewhere the Americans aren’t already shin-deep; or trying to foist unproven and expensive Carbon Capture on China. Continuing to skim the surplus from the Rest of the World, eh, Peter ?

We allow the supermarkets to force the developing nations to virtually give away top quality produce at rock-bottom prices, by contract, then sell our “knowledge economy” and patented “Climate technology” (including “drought-resistant” GM crops) back to them, lending them the money to do so, to keep them in hock to us. An appalling vice on world poverty : not allevating it, but reinforcing it.

“Economy: Low-carbon : House of Lords : Written answers and statements, 15 July 2009 : Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 15 July 2009, c85WS) : Lord Mandelson (Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills; Labour) : My right honourable friend the Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills (Pat McFadden) has made the following Statement. My department, together with the Department for Energy and Climate Change, is today publishing the UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy. In parallel to this document, the Government are also publishing the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, the UK Renewable Energy Strategy and the Carbon Reduction Strategy for Transport. Together these set out the policies which will help drive the transition to decarbonising our economy, and reflect how departments across government are working together to deliver the transition to a low carbon future. The core objective of the UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy is to ensure that British businesses and workers are equipped to maximise the economic opportunities and minimise the costs of the transition to a low carbon economy. Building on the framework for supporting British business set out in Building Britain’s Future: New Industry, New Jobs, its ambition is to ensure that the transition to low carbon is a source of quality jobs and business savings in Britain: from our rapidly developing civil nuclear industry and renewable energy sector, to energy saving in our smallest SMEs. British firms will benefit from the low carbon transition both by catering to growing British and global markets for low carbon goods and services, and also by using energy and other resources more efficiently to reduce costs. At the heart of the strategy are three basic principles for a positive environment for low carbon business: first, a long-term strategic approach from government — like the clear commitment we have made to nuclear and renewable energy, which will allow businesses to invest in greater confidence; secondly, a pragmatic recognition that intervention from government may be required in some areas to accelerate and enable the transition to low carbon — in the case of the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy this means support for the research and development that will produce new low carbon technologies…”

“Building a low-carbon Britain (16/03/2009) : The UK government is developing a Low-Carbon Industrial Strategy that will aim for step change in four key areas: 1. Energy efficiency to save businesses, consumers and the public services money; 2. Putting in place the energy infrastructure for the UK’s low-carbon future in renewables, nuclear, Carbon Capture & Storage, and a ‘smart’ grid; 3. Making the UK a global leader in the development and production of low-carbon vehicles; and 4. Ensuring skills, infrastructure, procurement, R&D, demonstration and deployment policies make the UK the best place to locate and develop a low-carbon business and to ensure that international business recognizes that. The Strategy was unveiled Friday by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson and Energy & Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, at a meeting of business leaders in London. They explained the UK’s industrial priorities for taking advantage of the new global low-carbon economy, which currently is estimated to be worth $6 trillion around the world and employs 880,000 people in Britain. “Low carbon is not a sector of our economy,” said Mandelson. “It is, or will be, our whole economy, and a global market. A low-carbon industrial strategy must seize the opportunities that will come with change; that requires a new industrial activism for a new green industrial revolution.” “Tackling climate change doesn’t just make moral sense, it makes economic sense too,” Miliband added. “The shift to low carbon in the UK, and around the world is now largely inevitable. Moving to a low-carbon economy is the way to secure the economic recovery and growth we need at home, and take a lead internationally to protect the future of the planet.” They released a pamphlet, ‘Low Carbon Industrial Strategy: a Vision,’ which highlights a range of companies which are taking advantage of low-carbon opportunities. Businesses are being asked for their input to inform a final Strategy that will be published by this summer.”
“Low Carbon Industrial Strategy”

“Building low carbon Britain : 06 March 2009 08:46 : Department of Energy and Climate Change : A new industrial activism was today placed at the heart of the Government’s emerging Low Carbon Industrial Strategy as new figures showed the UK green goods and services sector is already the 6th biggest in the world. Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson and Ed Miliband were meeting business leaders at a Low Carbon Industrial Summit in London to map out the UK’s industrial priorities for taking advantage of the new global low carbon economy – currently estimated to be worth £3 trillion globally and employing over 880,000 people in the UK…”

“Darling vetoes plans for green revolution in snub to Mandelson : Brown says low-carbon plans are ‘imperative’, but Treasury block could hit new accord with Obama : By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor : Sunday, 8 March 2009 : Alistair Darling is blocking a multibillion-pound plan to green Britain, even though Gordon Brown last week described it as an “urgent imperative” for economic recovery, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. The Chancellor’s opposition, which has lasted for months, has led to Britain falling far behind other countries in launching a Green New Deal, even as the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers promise to “lead the world” on this path out of the recession. Mr Darling is frustrating a drive by Ed Miliband and Peter Mandelson, the new Energy and Business secretaries, to launch a “low-carbon industrial revolution” to combat climate change and boost business – and threatens to undermine an increasingly close partnership between Mr Brown and President Barack Obama to push the greening of the global economy at next month’s G20 summit in London…”

“…Well, globalisation creates big new opportunities for Britain: Huge new consumer demand benefits from specialisation and the exercise of comparative advantage. But it also will require us to compete overwhelmingly on high levels of knowledge and sophistication to keep our slots at the top of global value chains…”

“OurWorld…passionate about business : 10-Aug-09 : Welcome to UK Trade & Investment today : UK can build green economy…plans to make Britain a global leader in the production of low-carbon vehicles, while research and development, procurement and deployment policies will be tailored to ensure the country is recognised as a sustainable location for international enterprises. Speaking at the Low Carbon Industrial Summit in London, Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson said the green industry is increasing in importance, while Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband claimed there are moral, as well as economic, reasons for becoming more environmentally friendly.”

As the UK shifts over to civil nuclear power, carbon capture and renewable energy, we need to ask what more we can do to strengthen the UK’s ability to build the companies that will compete for the supply chain work that will support these industries. Other countries have approached the low carbon issue as a fiscal stimulus question – a green job creation scheme. And it is true that a shift to low carbon will be invaluable in creating tens of thousands of jobs now, especially in construction and manufacturing. But I believe it is much wider and more fundamental than that. It goes to the heart of our long term industrial future. We have to own that future. The Low Carbon Industrial Strategy that Ed Miliband and I will be consulting on from the beginning of next month will support how we do that…”

But at the same time as championing, or even champagning, Green British Business to the world, Peter Mandelson is promoting continued growth in the use of Fossil Fuels.

He can’t understand Fair Trade, so I suppose it’s not surprising he can’t understand Decarbonisation : the obvious conflict between declaring a Carbon Budget (scaling down emissions by 80% by 2050) and authorising a Third Runway at Heathrow Airport.

Mandelson bangs head on table in bitter Cabinet feud over Heathrow runway : Peter Mandelson, the Business Secretary, banged his head on the Cabinet table in frustration during a bitter ministerial row over the decision to give the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. : By Patrick Hennessy, Political Editor : Published: 3:12PM GMT 17 Jan 2009 : Lord Mandelson – Mandelson bangs head on table in bitter Cabinet feud over Heathrow runway : There was, sources said, an “audible thump” as Lord Mandelson banged his head on the table. Lord Mandelson’s dramatic gesture came at the height of what government sources described as the most ill-tempered Cabinet meeting since Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister in July 2007. The new details of Tuesday’s meeting – after which the government gave its backing to the controversial £9 billion development – show that the rift among senior ministers is even deeper and more damaging than has been suggested up to now. In particular, allies of Mr Brown are furious with Ed Miliband, the Climate Change Secretary, for obtaining a series of last-minute environmental concessions, particularly over aircraft emissions and the type of planes which airlines must use on the runway. Mr Miliband, part of the inner circle that has surrounded Mr Brown for years, is accused by some MPs close to the Prime Minister of having “gone native” by trying to appease environmental protesters…”

Continuing development of Iraqi Fossil Fuel production seems to offer British Business considerable gain, too :-

“Seize Iraq chance, Mandelson tells UK business : 07.04.09 : Lord Mandelson called on British business to “seize the opportunity” of investing in Iraq as he led the first British trade delegation in two decades to the war-torn country. The Business Secretary was joined by representatives from 23 British companies, including Wood Group, Rolls-Royce, HSBC, BP and Shell…”

I suppose he thought he’d just upset another woman when he got green slimed back in Spring :-

Everything to do with Environmental progress rests on the shoulders of such a few Ministers, some of whom seem to have a lack of basic knowledge, ideologies at odds with reality, or seem intent on turf wars and scoring points. It is personal, and it could be catty, but I shall say it anyway : Peter Mandelson, I’ll never forgive you for selling out over Coal :-

“Secret deal saves coal industry : DAVID BRIERLEY : Sunday, 27 September 1998 : THE FUTURE of Britain’s coal industry looks assured. Senior industry sources believe PowerGen and Eastern are close to signing long-term coal contracts with Richard Budge, head of RJB Mining, the company which operates most of Britain’s deep-coal mines. The announcement next week of new contracts with Britain’s largest generators would suit Peter Mandelson perfectly, as he could be hailed as the saviour of the coal industry at Labour’s conference in Blackpool, and prove New Labour has not lost touch with Old Labour. Without new contracts, the core of the British mining industry would be doomed. Some 9,000 jobs at RJB Mining would go. Killing coal would be political suicide…”

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