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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 13:47 GMT
Mandelson: The controversial minister
Peter Mandelson
Mandelson quits in row over passport of Dome donor
Peter Mandelson, who resigned from the Cabinet on Wednesday, has always been the most controversial member of the government - with political nicknames ranging from "the Prince of Darkness" to "the Sultan of Spin".

He is regarded as the one man after Tony Blair most responsible for the creation of New Labour, the election winning formula that brought Labour back to power after 18 years in the wilderness.

And he has always been one of Tony Blair's closest friends and key allies.

Second time

This is the second time Mr Mandelson has resigned from the government.

He first stepped down, as Trade and Industry Secretary, on 23 December 1998.

He was forced to quit after The Guardian newspaper printed details of a secret loan of 373,000 from his ministerial colleague Geoffrey Robinson. The money was used to buy a house in Notting Hill in London.

Mr Mandelson had been in the post for barely six months.

Responsibility for Dome

Previously, he had spent over a year as minister without portfolio, a trouble-shooting role with responsibility for the Millennium Dome, whose contents, he promised would "blow your socks off".

He returned to the government, after his first resignation, on 11 October 1999, when he was appointed Northern Ireland Secretary, taking over from Mo Mowlam.

Srichand Hinduja, Cherie and Tony Blair
The Blairs with Hinduja
Despite being acknowledged as a presentational genius, Mr Mandelson has never been widely liked throughout the party.

Treated with suspicion

Those on the left often treated him with suspicion - they saw him as being partly responsible for the leadership's decision to ditch many of Labour's traditional socialist principles.

But Mr Mandelson, aged 47, was born into a Labour family - his grandfather was a Labour cabinet minister Herbert Morrison.

But he rebelled and joined the Young Communist League after Labour supported the United States' intervention in Vietnam.

His rapid return from the far left began when he won a place at St Catherine's College, Oxford.

He started on the road to party politics through a job at the economics department of the Trades Union Congress and from there joined Lambeth council in south London, from 1979 to 1982, during its "loony left" days.

Television producer

Mr Mandelson moved on to become a producer for London Weekend Television, from 1982 to 1985, working on political commentator Brian Walden's programme.

It was there that he befriended John Birt, later to become BBC Director General.

He left to take up the role of Labour's director of communications, but his real ambition was a place in Parliament.

He resigned in 1990 to contest the Hartlepool seat, which he won in 1992.

Kingmaker

Within two years, he was being seen as the kingmaker who thrust Tony Blair into the leadership in 1994 after the sudden death of John Smith.

This came at a time when everyone thought Gordon Brown was the heir apparent.

Brown, to this day, is thought by many Labour MPs, to never have forgiven Mr Mandelson for this.

Peter Mandelson is at the centre of a row over passport applications

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22 Jan 01 | South Asia
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
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