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MANDY CASTAWAY.

Byline: NIGEL NELSON

PREMIER Tony Blair has cast Peter Mandelson adrift - refusing to provide vital backing for his old pal's battle to remain an MP.

He has rejected pleas by the former Ulster Secretary to send national party workers to his Hartlepool constituency during the General Election campaign.

It could scupper the hopes of Mr Mandelson, forced to quit the Cabinet over the cash-for-passports scandal, of retaining his seat and eventually launching himself back into the Westminster big time.

A top Labour source said: "Even if it means losing the seat, we are not going to waste good people on trying to save him. We hope he stands down."

And a constituency party official said: "Peter is too metropolitan. We would rather have a good local person."

Mr Mandelson is as isolated as Tom Hanks' character stranded on a desert isle in the hit movie Cast Away.

CAPTION(S):

LONELY: Peter's plight
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Feb 4, 2001
Words:152
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