John mcdonnell

Will John McDonnell lock Tories up if Labour wins the next election?

Smiley, fluent and softly spoken, John McDonnell sometimes comes across as a bit cuddly. Yesterday Labour’s shadow chancellor was interviewed by Iain Dale at the Edinburgh festival. He said he’s looking forward to a boating trip on the Norfolk Broads. ‘My wife and I sail. But we sail badly. People get off the water when they see us coming.’ He felt he deserved a break after working with the Tories on a cross-party approach to the Withdrawal Agreement. ‘No one should have to sit opposite Michael Gove for six weeks. I did it for the country.’ Iain Dale quizzed him about Labour’s immediate threat: Boris. ‘The guy’s reckless. The guy’s

In favour of nationalisation? Take a look at Network Rail

We don’t hear enough about Network Rail these days. By that I mean that the entity recently described by the Sunday Times as ‘synonymous with incompetence and delays’ doesn’t receive anything like the abuse it deserves for failing to provide the infrastructure essential for a 21st-century railway. I refer you to the Crossrail project, in which the inability of new trains to connect with old Network Rail signalling systems is one reason for the delayed opening that has become a major national embarrassment. I invite you to observe LNER’s expensive new fleet of Azuma bullet trains that were due to launch in December but delayed by incompatibility with Network Rail

The Corbyn effect

What’s wrong with UK financial markets? The global economy is recovering, but British stocks and shares are not keeping pace. The pound has failed to recover from the slide it experienced in the wake of the EU referendum. This is frequently blamed on investors being spooked by Brexit, even more so by the possibility of a no deal. But has anyone actually asked the markets what is spooking them? Look closer and it becomes clear that while Brexit is a problem for some investors, most are much more worried about a far bigger risk, even if they rarely speak about it in public. It is the possibility of a Corbyn

John McDonnell’s right – the four-day week could work

Most people were scandalised by John McDonnell’s proposal to promote a four-day working week. But before we get incensed about giving people more leisure during their working life, we need to ask another question. If it really is so vital to the economy that people spend more time at work, then why does the government spend £41 billion every year (a third of the cost of the NHS) providing tax relief on pension contributions? This merely encourages older and more experienced employees to leave the workforce several years earlier than necessary. Remember, five years needlessly spent in retirement is 20 years that could have been spent enjoying a working life

Why a four-day working week isn’t such a bad idea

Most people were scandalised by John McDonnell’s proposal to promote a four-day working week. But before we get incensed about giving people more leisure during their working life, we need to ask another question. If it really is so vital to the economy that people spend more time at work, then why does the government spend £41 billion every year (a third of the cost of the NHS) providing tax relief on pension contributions? This merely encourages older and more experienced employees to leave the workforce several years earlier than necessary. Remember, five years needlessly spent in retirement is 20 years that could have been spent enjoying a working life


Listen: John McDonnell’s disastrous Today programme interview

Oh dear. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s interview on the Today programme started off a little oddly this morning, with the presenters noting how rough he looked in the studio – apparently he had tripped over fly-tipped rubbish outside his house. The Labour MP joked that although he was arriving rather than leaving the studio looking roughed-up, John Humphreys will ‘beat me up anyway, won’t he?’ Clearly, it was a sign of things to come.  The interview began with Labour’s huge spending proposals, and how they would square this with their supposed promise to reduce the deficit. His answer – increased tax revenues – wasn’t fooling anyone. McDonnell was then taken

John McDonnell attempts to reinvent himself

In recent months, there has been speculation that John McDonnell has leadership ambitions – and a rift has formed between the shadow chancellor and his one-time comrade Jeremy Corbyn. So, it won’t have gone unnoticed by the Leader’s Office that McDonnell today embarked on a charm offensive of the MSM – also know as the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Speaking at a Press Gallery lunch, the socialist politician told hacks that he had decided to address lunch after his local priest suggested he needed to ‘soften’ his image: ‘He persuaded me to do this. He said you need to soften your image. So do Mumsnet and do this…. I’m trying to

Portrait of the Week – 27 September 2018

Home Theresa May, the Prime Minister, held a special cabinet to retrieve something from the wreckage of the Brexit policy she had imposed at Chequers this summer. Mrs May had shown surprise at a summit in Salzburg four days earlier when the EU rejected her proposals. ‘The suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work,’ said Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council. He then posted a picture on Instagram of himself and Mrs May with a cakestand and the caption: ‘A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries.’ Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, said that this was ‘insulting the British people’. The next day, Mrs May had made

Matthew Parris

Don’t dismiss McDonnell as a loony

‘Wherever Sir Stafford Cripps has tried to increase wealth and happiness,’ wrote the Conservative Scottish journalist Colm Brogan, ‘grass never grows again.’ But Roundup has its uses. When Brogan made this comment, Sir Stafford was Britain’s postwar ‘austerity’ chancellor of the exchequer, a post he held from 1947 to 1950. Dry as dust, Cripps had rejoined the Labour party only two years previously, having served as ambassador in Moscow, then in Churchill’s war cabinet. A leading voice on the hard left, he had been expelled from Labour for his advocacy of co-operation with communists in 1939, but his judgment had proved shrewd. Hard-edged, essentially pragmatic, but fiercely moral and always

John McDonnell’s unashamedly socialist pitch to Labour conference

John McDonnell started his Labour conference speech with a tribute to his ‘friend’ Jeremy Corbyn, praising the way in which the Labour leader had held his nerve while being attacked in the press. As united as the two men may be, the Shadow Chancellor certainly gave the impression today that the Conservatives would have much more reason to fear a McDonnell-led Labour. His speech contained a cogent analysis of where things were going wrong for the British economy, and a clear explanation of what Labour would do to fix those problems. One of the things that Labour strategists have picked up from recent focus groups in the key seats –

Katy Balls

John McDonnell lends Theresa May a helping hand on Brexit

There were hopes among pro-Remain MPs that this year’s Labour conference would mark a sea change in the party’s Brexit policy. Instead, what’s been served up is a Brexit fudge that ultimately fails to soften the party position. At last year’s conference, the Labour leader managed to keep Brexit off the conference floor. This year around it wasn’t possible with pro-EU members and unions – keen for a second referendum – voting for Brexit in the priority ballot. After a six-hour meeting to compose the motion last night, a fudge was agreed. The statement that is to be voted on says that if Theresa May’s deal doesn’t pass and there

Watch: John McDonnell’s call for ‘direct action’ against Tory MPs

Jacob Rees-Mogg won support from across the political spectrum on Wednesday when the MP and his children were ambushed outside of their home. Class War activist Ian Bone took it upon himself to inform the Conservative politician’s young children that their ‘daddy is a totally horrible person’: ‘Lots of people don’t like your daddy, you know that? He’s probably not told you that. Lots of people hate him.’ The incident led to mass condemnation from the Left as well as Tories. So, why would people come up with the idea of harassing an elected Member of Parliament in this way? Mr S wonders whether the answer can be found in a statement

The dilemma facing Labour MPs at the next election

John McDonnell’s response to the latest episode in Labour’s anti-Semitism scandal is another reminder of how he grasps the political danger of this to the Corbyn project so much better than Corbyn himself does. The shadow Chancellor appears to get, in a way that Corbyn doesn’t, just how much this issue could damage Labour. One of the striking things about politics right now is that the Corbynite economic agenda has become relatively uncontroversial within the Labour party. At the start of Corbyn’s leadership, the party committing itself to a universal basic income would have caused a major row. But today’s announcement has passed off without controversy. Rather, what is causing

Listen: John McDonnell – ‘we are a party that’s anti-Semitist’

A poll earlier this year found that almost two-thirds of the British public believe Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party has a problem with racism or religious prejudice. However, up until now Mr S hadn’t thought John McDonnell was one of them. Speaking on the Today programme this morning, the Shadow Chancellor attempted to rebuff suggestions that his party had an anti-Semitism problem. Only it didn’t go quite to plan thanks to a slip of the tongue: ‘Let me put this message out to anyone: we are a party that’s anti-racist and anti-Semitist… sorry… we’re against anti-Semitism.’ Freudian slip?

Rhetorical questioning

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has given all his cabinet a copy of Cicero’s advice on how to win arguments. This is a very foolish move. ‘Rhetoric’ (same root as ‘orator’), or persuasive speaking, was the name of this activity. In the 4th century bc, Aristotle produced the definitive guide in his Art of Rhetoric, from which most of Cicero’s advice is drawn. His top tips included: work from the general (is this good in principle?) to the specific (is this example of it practical?). Examine any course of action under four headings: is it possible? Necessary? Advantageous? Honourable (i.e. just, moral, etc.)? Set up arguments from evidence, logic, likelihood, maxims

John McDonnell’s bad advice

John McDonnell’s business credentials took another hit on Friday when the shadow chancellor struggled to name a single one of his ‘business heroes’ in an interview with the Financial Times. The pause was so long that McDonnell’s press adviser eventually came up with a suggestion for him – ‘Vince Dale’, the renewable energy entrepreneur: Only there’s a problem. There’s no renewable energy entrepreneur by the name of Vince Dale. Instead, the person in question goes by the name of… Dale Vince. Mr S suggests the pair learn the entrepreneur’s name before going in for a business endorsement…

John McDonnell holding out for a hero

Oh dear. After Labour’s better-than-expected snap election result, the prospect of Prime Minister Corbyn has never looked more real. With John McDonnell tipped to be Chancellor should Corbyn triumph at the next election, businesses are having to pay the socialist close attention. Alas, it’s not clear this effort has been reciprocated. When asked ‘who are your business heroes?’ in an interview with the Financial Times, the shadow chancellor came up blank: ‘John McDonnell is stumped for words. He sits in silence, the only sound the hiss of a coffee machine at the back of the café. The pause drags on while the man who could soon be in charge of

Momentum isn’t hard left. It’s a theatrical cult

Hard left, my arse. Sorry to be vulgar, but surely that’s how Jim Royle, couch-potato patriarch of that glorious sitcom The Royle Family, would have reacted to reports that the ‘hard left’ Momentum movement is planning a ‘massacre of the moderates’ in the parliamentary Labour party. Don’t get me wrong. Having seized control of Labour’s National Executive Committee, Momentum is itching to purge the party’s benches of MPs who are insufficiently obsequious to Jeremy Corbyn. But calling this fragile political sect ‘hard’ left is silly. ‘Far’ left, perhaps — but let’s not confuse Momentum activists with the powerful Marxist bruisers of 40 years ago. Momentum is more like a cult

Sorry seems to be the hardest word for John McDonnell

Although John McDonnell is supposed to play a key part in Jeremy Corbyn’s drive for a kinder, gentler politics, remarks he made about ‘lynching’ Esther McVey, at a Remembrance Sunday event back in 2014, continue to distract from the message. McDonnell’s defence is that he was quoting someone else who (he claims) wanted to lynch her – rather than wanting to lynch her himself. This morning on the Andrew Marr show, McDonnell was given the chance to apologise for his comments. Alas, he declined: It seems sorry really is the hardest word… Readers can listen for themselves here.  

John McDonnell and Davos are perfect for one another

The headlines just about write themselves. A hard-left Labour shadow chancellor flies off to Davos to preach revolution and socialism to the world’s most elite gathering of business leaders. Surely that is a sign that Jeremy’s Corbyn’s Labour party is being taken seriously by the big wheels of global business. And a sign as well that the firebrands are readying themselves to reach an accommodation with the bankers and speculators of big capital once they are in power – or at the very least picking up a few business cards so they know who to call at Goldman Sachs when they need an emergency bail-out. But in fact, there is