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Cynical U-turn Condemned as Hypocrisy
Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru Euro-MPs have accused incoming Euro Commissioner Peter Mandelson of being addicted to spin in his attempts to secure approval in his new job.
The MEPs are furious at Mr Mandelson's cynical attempts to change his position on the Iraq war in an apparent effort to distance himself from Tony Blair ahead of a key European Parliament vote on his new job.
Speaking at a meeting in Hungary yesterday Mr Mandelson reportedly said "Who can doubt that the insurgency in Iraq today would be a lesser problem had a second resolution been agreed before the invasion and if the United Nations had been in the driving seat from the start."
Mr Mandelson omitted to say that whilst still an MP he voted in favour of the war in the House of Commons on 18 March 2003.
Ian Hudghton MEP (SNP) said:
"This is rank hypocrisy from Mandelson and a shameless attempt to spin his way into favour with MEPs. It simply won't wash - we've already raised serious doubts about his suitability for a job as a
European Commissioner, this cynical u-turn would seem to confirm those doubts. He seems addicted to spin, and doesn't like to let the facts get in the way. If he's trying to curry favour with MEPs as we approach a key vote on whether to confirm or reject the new
Commission, then he's not making a very good job of it."
Plaid Cymru's Jill Evans MEP commented:
"This shameless u-turn will harm rather than enhance Mr Mandelson's standing amongst Euro-MPs. Many of us have already expressed serious concerns about his suitability for the job and this latest controversy just makes matters worse. Mr Mandelson has been put forward for an important role as Europe's Trade Commissioner, he needs to prove he can be independent and trustworthy. I fear that many MEPs will now come to conclusion that he is neither.
"On the plus side, however, we can welcome the fact that Mr Mandelson now seems to accept that it was wrong to go to war without UN backing, perhaps others in New Labour will follow. It's a shame he couldn't see that at the time."
News reports said that Mr Mandelson made the comments at a meeting in Hungary hosted by the think tank Policy Network, which has close ties with New Labour. The meeting precedes a heads of government summit in Hungary to be attended by Tony Blair Friday and Saturday.
Next Thursday incoming EU Commission Chief José Manual Barroso will respond to Euro-MPs assessments of his proposed team, which includes Mr Mandelson, before the Parliament votes on the matter the following week.