It’s been a long day for John McDonnell. On top of making his conference speech, the Shadow Chancellor has spoken at fringe events and given several interviews. So, perhaps that’s why his appearance on Monday’s Newsnight didn’t go quite to plan.
In the interview with Evan Davis, McDonnell failed to shine as he put forward a rather confused vision for his party. Although he insisted that Labour were ready to govern, he also admitted that the party was not in a position to share its policy on tax — instead saying it should remain ‘roughly the same as it is’ — immigration or Trident.
When it was pointed out to McDonnell that the party’s policy on Trident had been set just that day as supporting Trident by Clive Lewis, the Shadow Defence Secretary, he begged to differ:
ED: The policy is as clear as mud to me but I’m sure you’re going to put me right. Is it your belief that when Labour goes into the next election its policy will be to renew Trident?
JM: The existing party policy at the moment is to renew Trident. We’ve had a debate in the House of Commons which was a free vote because we believe this is a conscience issue and as a result of that we came to a consideration. The attitude amongst our members is the same, but we’ll give MPs views consideration and take into account.
ED: I genuinely don’t understand. Let’s suppose we have an election next year, if I vote Labout am I voting for Trident or against Trident or am I voting for ‘I don’t know’?
JM: In the period up until the election, we’ll form our manifesto…
Mr S suspects it’s for the best McDonnell takes a day off.