Another batch of embarrassing emails to and from the former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton have been released -- more than 7,000, in all. Clinton, who is running for the 2016 Democrat presidential candidacy, has had to hand over to the State Department thousands of emails sent from her personal email account but related to her work for the government. Released under freedom of information law, they span all sorts of subjects – from wars in the Middle East to domestic US politics.
The emails also give an insight into the US perception of British politics, particularly the period leading up to and after the 2010 UK general election, which ended 13 years of Labour rule and installed a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.
Sent mostly from Clinton's adviser Sidney Blumenthal, the scathing memos and notes offer a candid insight into how American officials perceive the machinations of Westminster politics: Peter Mandelson's backroom wrangling, David Cameron's Eurosceptic tilts and the Miliband brothers' battle to take over Labour. Here, from the latest tranche of emails, are some of the most noteworthy.
James Purnell resigns and Peter Mandelson hits the phones: Blumenthal to HC: 6 June 2009
Purnell called Miliband to tell him he would resign, trying to prompt David [Miliband] into joining him, thereby bringing down the government. Miliband refused, tried to talk Purnell out of quitting. Mandelson was at No 10 discussing strategy with Gordon [Brown] when Purnell called at 10pm Thursday night to tell him he resigned. Mandelson worked the phones long into the night to get the Blairites to stay put and back Gordon. He succeeded in holding the fort. Then Gordon named him First Secretary of State.
Tony Blair, the EU presidency and anti-EU Cameron: Blumenthal to HC: 27 October 2009
Tony is somewhat downcast on his chances. (He met with Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post yesterday; his mood was described to me.) The Tories have ramped up their campaign against him —not only do they not want him but they also do not want an effective EU president. Cameron has come down on the side of the anti-EU wing of his party on this, an easy move. In an intriguing complication, there's talk now of David Miliband becoming EU foreign secretary if Tony does not become EU president. Miliband denied he was interested and endorsed Tony. This is part of the anti-Blair campaign ginned up by the Tories, extended to hurt Miliband if they can. Jonathan Powell is less gloomy than Tony, thinks everything is still in play, which is why your part in this may yet be important.
David Cameron's aristocratic and Etonian government: Blumenthal to HC: 26 November 2009
The US administration is considered blinkered, parochial and counter productive. Conservatives are more contemptuous than Labour, which feels abandoned and somewhat baffled. Rather than eager to be Obama's poodle, Cameron would be superficially friendly and privately scornful. Class has a lot to do with the contempt. A Cameron government would be more aristocratic and even narrowly Etonian than any Conservative government in recent history, sharply contrasting especially with the striving and classless perspective of the grocer's daughter, Margaret Thatcher.
"Mandelson Watch": Blumenthal to HC: 29 November 2009
Mandelson Watch: After Miliband declined to reach for the EU foreign secretaryship (though Sarkozy wanted him to take it and Brown was not averse, even favorable), Mandelson personally campaigned on his own for it among the Europeans. Mandelson was eager to Miliband to take the EU post, allowing Mandelson to be appointed foreign minister. When Miliband refused, MandeIson's ambition was thwarted, and tried to seize the EU position for himself, but without any backing in Europe or from Gordon. The Europeans thought him mad. Suddenly, they recalled his bad or strange behavior as UK commissioner to the EU. When Christine Ashton was named, Mandelson briefed the press on her lack of credentials, etc. Ashton, as it happens, had worked the press to try to help Mandelson when he had gotten into the mess that led to his first resignation. Those inside the government who remember this see it as an illustration of the principle that no good deed goes unpunished. Mandelson, in a snit, is now not speaking to Gordon as though his rejection were Gordon's fault.
Nick Clegg, coalition negotiations, William Hague and, yet again, Peter Mandelson: Blumenthal to HC: 9 May 9 2010
Clegg is still in talks with Cameron. About 1,500 Liberal Democrats spontaneously protested at Lib-Dem headquarters against a deal with the Tories given their policies, especially on Europe. But Clegg remains in negotiations. He seems quite intent on working it out with Cameron, it appears. His inner Tory magnetically draws him to his heritage. Clegg has also misplayed almost every turn, presented with big chances and blowing them through a combination of inexperience (derived partly from heading a party out of power for nearly 100 years) and inbred arrogance (from no less a privileged background than Cameron, though seeming less snobbish because he went to Westminster instead of Eton and has a less pronounced upper-class accent, more neutral, because of his more cosmopolitan roots through his family).
Behind the scenes, Labour is putting whatever harsh pressure it can on LD leaders. Peter is playing a cynical double game. He is a sectarian in a sect of one. Yet Gordon for strange psychological reasons rooted in his triangle with Tony and Peter relies on Peter. Peter, according to Shaun, has wrung a pledge from Borwn that if Brown emerges from this crisis he, Peter, will replace David as Foreign Secretary. Meanwhile, Peter has advised David to sideline himself. David has done so instead of being forward as a strong party man behind Brown in dire straits. Standing back only makes David look ambitious, waiting for Brown to lose and aiming to a leadership contest afterward, when Peter, as he has promised, would guide David to the prize.
Prepare for hauge [sic], who is deeply anti-European and will be disingenuous with you. Tory budget cuts in NI, already announced, would cause havoc with peace and economic recovery. I'd send a private message asap on that score the second a new government is announced, if it is. Tilt publicly to Merkel on Europe for this reason among others.
Ed Miliband wins the Labour leadership: Blumenthal to HC: 25 September 2010
David Miliband lost by less than 2 percent to his brother Ed. Ed is the new leader. David was marginally hurt by Tony's book but more by Mandelson's endorsement coupled with his harsh statements about the left. This is something of a regression.
Labour leadership election: David Miliband to HC: 29 September 2010
Your message on Saturday was poignant. Losing is tough. When you win the party members and MPs doubly so. (When it's your brother...). But I am so proud of the campaign we ran, the issues we raised etc. We got people to believe in a New Labour platform -- and modernised the platform.
David Miliband, Tony Blair and the Third Way: Blumenthal to HC: October 11, 2010
I just had a conversation with Jonathan Powell. David Sainsbury (chief donor to the Labour Party, Shaun's wife's cousin) wants to fund a new Third Way organization headed by David Miliband. David is up for it. Tony very keen. To discuss.