CORRECTED: Britain's Mandelson says he was 'generous' to former PMs

10th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Labour politician Peter Mandelson said Wednesday he was "generous" to former premiers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in his memoir which has drawn a furious reaction from some party colleagues.

Mandelson -- who was in Hong Kong to promote the book entitled "The Third Man" -- denied that he had portrayed the two former British leaders and other Labour figures in a negative light.

"What I wanted to do was not to settle scores. I don't feel I have scores to settle," he told the city's Foreign Correspondents' Club.

"When you read it, you will find an honest, balanced and rounded picture of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. I have been generous to them," he added.

Mandelson, 57, also said: "Where I have described them or attributed motives or described their actions...I've tried to use their words where possible."

The flamboyant politician was Brown's business secretary and a controversial minister who quit twice under Blair, giving him an unrivalled insight into the turbulent New Labour party he helped build.

Along with Brown and Tony Blair, Mandelson was part of the most powerful troika in British politics until centre-left Labour was voted out of office and into opposition in May for the first time since 1997.

The book recounts Mandelson's years as a key political figure and his version of events surrounding the bitter feud between Blair and his successor Brown.

Mandelson's often gossipy details of the pair's difficult relationship have provoked anger from some former colleagues.

In extracts of the book published by The Times newspaper, Mandelson -- nicknamed "The Prince of Darkness" by opponents for his behind-the-scenes influence -- claimed Blair once called Brown "mad, bad and dangerous".

Other extracts described how Brown's hopes of clinging to power by forming a coalition with the centrist Liberal Democrats during elections in May were scuppered by LibDem leader Nick Clegg, who said he could not work with Brown.

"I think big personalities are important in politics as they are in any big organisations. When you're right up there taking all the flak and do indeed need a big personality," Mandelson said Wednesday.

Mandelson is not the only Labour politician to have signed a lucrative book deal.

Blair reportedly earned millions of pounds with his memoir, "The Journey", published in September, but donated the money to the Royal British Legion, a military veterans' organisation.

His aides deny he clashed with Mandelson over timing of publication.

© 2010 AFP

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