LONDON (Labour Buzz) During the new Labour era, McDonnell was often one of the most prominent rebels against the Blair agenda. Voting against the Iraq war and many of New Labour’s policy reforms. McDonnell was an open critic of the Blair government’s cosy relationship with the City of London.
Alastair Campbell was expelled from the Labour Party after admitting he had supported the Liberal Democrats in the European elections earlier this year. Under Labour rules, anyone who campaigns for another party is automatically excluded. Asked whether Campbell should be re-admitted to the Labour Party the Shadow Chancellor was unequivocal, “Yes.”
Most controversial of all, the Shadow Chancellor revealed that both he and Jeremy Corbyn would step down if Labour lost the next general election. Asked whether Jeremy would remain as leader if Labour loses, McDonnell replied, “I can't see... I think it is the same for my own personal position, I can't see so. What we'd do is as the tradition, which is have an election for a new leader.”
The Shadow Chancellor was also very clear in his belief that the next leader of the Labour Party ought to be a woman. In its 100-year history, Labour has never elected a woman as Leader of the Party. “I think we are in that situation now where we’ve got such a range of talented women in the shadow cabinet that it’s obvious it’s going to be a woman next time.” During the interview, McDonnell ruled himself out as a potential future leadership contender.
The interview was friendly and even convivial on occasions. This is a far cry from the now infamous appearance of Campbell and McDonnell on Question Time in 2016. During the heated debate, McDonnell accused Campbell “you’re the person, above all else, who actually created a political environment where no-one believed a word a politician said.” The interview received mixed responses on social media.
Owen Jones, the guardian columnist and left-wing commentator said, “Without John McDonnell, there would be no Corbynism. The end.” While others such as Aaron Bastani expressed disagreement with McDonnell saying “I disagree with certain points here. Tom Watson at DCMS is the most AWOL shadow minister ever.” During the interview, the Shadow Chancellor described the attempts to remove Tom Watson as a “fiasco.”
In recent weeks, McDonnell has shifted his emphasis from having a general election to supporting a second referendum. However, during the interview he confirmed that his preference is for a general election. “Within parliament itself there is a large number of people who are saying we’d rather have a referendum attached to any deal… I want a general election, actually. I would like a general election.”
Over recent weeks, discussions have been taking place between Labour and other opposition parties including the SNP, Greens, Liberal Democrats and TIG. The discussions have been over how Britain could avoid a no-deal Brexit. Asked whether he felt Labour would be able to win outright, McDonnell responded, “I think we can win a majority, but if we go into a minority government situation, there will be no deals, we’ll just lay out our programme and they either support it or they don’t.” He completely ruled out any form of coalition, “No backroom deals whatsoever and we're not going to be held back by any other political parties.”
(Written by Brendan Chilton, edited by Michael O'Sullivan)