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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
R.I.P. Millbank Tower

MILLBANK TOWER Labour HQ after a short (but sharp) decline, the life has left this once proud form.

At 382 feet in its stocking feet, the building quite literally stood head and shoulders above its contemporaries. When brought into the world in 1963, it was one of an elite few in the capital to look down upon St Paul's Cathedral.

Though not classically handsome, its "international style" attracted the attentions of the 98-year-old Labour Party which, enjoying something of a second wind, had a notoriously roving eye for all things modern.

Leaving its Walworth Road home, the party took two floors of Millbank Tower in the run-up to the 1997 general election.


It was there that the party's successful election strategy was formulated and put into action. The cool efficiency with which the operation was run won awe and animosity in equal measure (and not just from the defeated Tories).

If Millbank Tower became a political castle keep, then Peter Mandelson was its prince. The spin doctor and MP was so at home there, he reputedly had a shower installed in his office.

Fittingly this prince had a sword called Excalibur to help him in battle. The computer, kept in Millbank, allowed party apparatchiks to sift through speeches, newspaper clippings and other documents to confound the arguments of any opponent.

This "rebuttal machine" was but one weapon in the Millbank technological armoury - fax and pager messages reputedly flowed forth faster than the nearby Thames.

A brief resurgence of energies in 2001, soon dissipated when the year's general election ended. At 1m a year, Millbank's relationship with Labour seems too expensive to revive. The party's over.

In retrospect, friends will wonder if Millbank's fate was not somehow foreshadowed by the loss of Peter Mandelson, and by the demise of the pager.

As a Grade II listed building, Millbank's physical form will be preserved, but with its red blood drained, it will be but a shell of its former self.

No flowers (esp. no roses).


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05 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Labour abandons Millbank
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