John McDonnell looks exhausted, slumped in his parliamentary office chair. Nobody said the revolution would be easy. Do he and Jeremy Corbyn have any catchphrases, I ask, to gee themselves up when battered by the right-wing press, the pundits or the moderates in their own party? ‘This will send the Daily Mail wild, OK,’ he says. ‘It’s Gramsci: “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.”
‘No matter how bad it gets, determination is what you need. We’re doing something we’ve been working for for 30, 40 years of our lives. And this opportunity has come. We didn’t expect it. But now it’s come we’re making the most of it.’
Hours before our interview, Labour’s Treasury team had one of their regular meetings with the former head of the civil service, the crossbencher Lord Kerslake.