John McDonnell

How can Labour reunite?

170x170bbGuardian UK politics podcast: Anushka Asthana is joined by Paul Mason, Zoe Williams and Richard Angell to discuss whether Labour’s warring factions can put aside their differences and reconnect with lost voters. Plus John McDonnell on tackling tax avoidance

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Jeremy Corbyn’s shambolic power grab in Copeland would put New Labour to shame

First published on Telegraph Comment

It is amazing how quickly the Jeremy Corbyn project has emulated everything it says it hates. The Labour leader does not have just one senior spin doctor, but three, and is advertising for yet another. Last week they tried to u-turn on Corbyn’s lifelong position on free movement because focus groups and polling tell them they have little option – and then did not quite manage it.

Last night Labour selected its candidate in Copeland. The tactics used by Corbyn’s inner circle – not least the reported involvement of leader’s office staff David Prescott and James Schneider – would make Millbank Tower in the heady days of New Labour blush. Reports have circulated that membership lists were made available to preferred candidates well in advance, that canvassing calls were made from within the leader’s office and that national trade union political officers were picked off and put behind one candidate. (more…)

Stop the McDonnell amendment

My New Year’s resolution is to stop the hard-left lowering the threshold to stand for Labour leader from 15 to five per cent

First published on ProgressOnline | Featured in the Guardian

2016 was obviously a total disaster for those who want to see a Labour government in the not too distant future. Disappointing local election results, coming third in Scotland, losing the European Union referendum and the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn followed by near silence. Since 24 September 2016 there has been little done to unite the party, nothing done to flesh out of policy ideas, campaign days on grammar schools and the NHS were so poor few voters noticed and the Labour leader appears at prime minister’s question time and that’s about it. Labour finishes the year with a 25 per cent standing in the polls – some 17 points behind an unelected Tory leader that is bereft of ideas and vision. Only 18 per cent of the public like our economy team and just 17 per cent our leader. The Corbyn project has clearly failed and many who voted for him, even the second time, are rapidly coming to the same conclusion. (more…)

The loner leader

First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’

Theresa May gave the world a glimpse of what Brexit Britain, certainly under her lack of vision, would look like. Alone with no one to talk to at the latest European Union summit she looked awkward and in desperate need of friends. No longer the new kid on the block – the Italian minister of foreign affairs Angelino Alfano has that accolade – May’s notoriety is fading and the reality of Britain’s exit from the EU has crystallized. But a plan of action has not. The unelected prime minister is consumed by Brexit yet made impotent by it at the same time. If only she faced a serious opposition … (more…)

You cannot win with the Corbyn coterie

First published on the Huffington Post

The first victim of the bullying that surrounds the Jeremy Corbyn leadership personality cult and the associated Momentum crew was not a former leadership candidate or a ‘red Tory’ who served under Gordon Brown – or, worse, Tony Blair’ – but a lovely woman who only joined the House of Commons in 2010. Pat Glass did not support Corbyn over the summer but both served and took promotions (not one, but two) when well-meaning colleagues resigned or were sacked. In January, after Pat McFadden was singled out for calling terrorists ‘adults’ in charge of their own actions, she was asked to replace him, and did. When Lucy Powell resigned, she stepped up to be the shadow education secretary. None of this stopped her local Momentum group standing against and defeating her husband as campaign coordinator of the local party and threatening her with deselection. After two days shadowing Nicky Morgan, she resigned the frontbench and said she will stand down from parliament at the next election. The referendum campaign had been ‘bruising’ and taken too much of a toll. (more…)

Asset-stripping Labour

Momentum is a party waiting to leave a party

First published in Progress magazine

The results of the National Executive Committee elections were disappointing. A clean sweep for the Momentum-backed slate will not be good for plurality, nor party democracy. But we should be proud of the six people Progress and Labour First supported. Ellie Reeves and Johanna Baxter doubled their votes and leave the NEC with a great list of achievements to their name. Bex Bailey polled 67,000 votes and ran a superb campaign. Parmjit Dhanda, Luke Akehurst and Peter Wheeler did well and should be proud. When it feels like you are the lone voice in a party meeting, remember that this ballot shows there are tens of thousands of members who want Labour return to its winning ways. (more…)