Friday, 21 October 2011

Peter Mandelson, U.K. politician

b. October 21, 1953

Former secretary of state for Trade and Industry, former European Commissioner.

Born in London, a grandson of Lord Morrison, a former Labour cabinet minister. He was educated at Hendon Senior High School and St. Catherine's in Oxford, where he read politics, philosophy and economics. After university he worked for Trade Union Congress and was a Councillor for the London borough of Lambeth before becoming Labour MP for Hartlepool in 1992. He became an opposition whip.

Before the 1997 general election, at which the Labour Party swept to power, he had been one of the most prominent organisers of the reconstruction of the Labour Party and was extremely close to the leader of the party, Tony Blair. After the election he became Minister without Portfolio and was the most senior and influential of a small number of gay Labour Party politicians, though he has never officially declared his sexuality.

In 1998 he was targeted in the tabloid media's attack on a "gay mafia" within government, In the following year he resigned from his ministerial position after the revelation he had received a secret loan from another MP, but remained a prominent politician, and was appointed secretary of state for Northern Ireland in 1999.

In October 1998, during his first period in the Cabinet, Mandelson was the centre of media attention when Matthew Parris (openly gay former MP and then Parliamentary sketch writer of The Times) mentioned during a live interview on Newsnight, in the wake of the resignation of Ron Davies, that "Peter Mandelson is certainly gay".

In 2000, Mandelson publicly recognised his relationship with long-time partner Reinaldo Avila da Silva by allowing photographs of them together. (da Silva is Brazilian born but was naturalized as a British citizen around the end of August 2005).

Coming out publicly did not harm his political career. On 22 November 2004, Mandelson became Britain's European Commissioner for Trade. On 3 October 2008, as part of Gordon Brown's cabinet reshuffle, it was announced that Mandelson would return to government in the re-drawn post Business Secretary, and would be made a life peer, entitling him to a seat in the House of Lords. Gordon Brown cited that he needed "serious people" for "serious times" and that Peter Mandelson would deliver the experience the country needed to pull it through its economic crisis.

By 2010, he could claim, in an interview with The Times, that he was a "good role model" for gay men, because of the success he had achieved in public life.

In a video interview with The Times, Lord Mandelson was questioned about his position as ''the most powerful gay man in the country'' when he was first secretary of state and effective number two in Mr Brown's administration.
He replied: ''I would hate to think that I take a stand because I have one sexuality, or one sexual orientation.''I think it's important that people should be able to get to the top of politics – or whatever profession they aspire to travel to the top of – irrespective of what they are.''I think I'm actually quite a good role model for people who, without any fuss or bother, without any self-consciousness or inverse or other discrimination, (are) able to make it in politics, to make it in public life, to make it to the top places in government of our country.

Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History, from WWII to Present Day, Routledge, London, 2001

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