16 May 2007

John McDonnell.

It is going to be a sad state of affairs for the Parliamentary Labour party and the country at large if the Left (plus anyone sympathetic to having a contest) cannot muster 45 MPs to back John McDonnell and with John currently stuck on 29 (as of 6pm today)- that looks the case.

Some on the extremist right of the party are of course loving it to see the Left squirm like this. They are welcome to have their meaningless deputy contest and vote for an irritating 'insult your intelligence' candidate like Hazel Blears but what the Labour party really needs is a leadership contest so the issues can really be debated AND catch the public's attention. This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss to argue our policies - a deputy contest will only interest party navel gazers, whereas who becomes PM will interest the whole country.

As Jonathan Freedland argues, it is in the interests of the Labour party, the country and even Gordon Brown that we have such a debate. Only a real contest can bring that debate. It seems everyone - the party members, trade unionists and the country at large recognise what a boon an election could be, everyone it seems except 307 (and counting) Labour MPs and Gordon Brown himself.

Maybe John is too left-wing, maybe he has alienated too many in the past, but even so it is not for his sake that we need this contest but for a country that so wants left of centre policies argued for but has never heard the arguments from us.

So to those twenty or so MPs left (or any of the 307 who have backed Gordon could also nominate John to ensure a contest), we need 16 of you to back John for the sake of the party. Looking at John's policies, I can see why he is not seen as plausible among a group of MPs that remember the wilderness of opposition and the Bennite trauma that came with it; but we also need to remember that facing up to the arguments head on and beating them in debate was how the Labour party changed and we need to re-affirm our centrist credentials to the public on merit not by simply assuming they know the arguments.

According to Jackie Ashley, John stands for the following.

Apologising to the UN over the Iraq war (God the right-wing press would have fun with that - 'Britain on it's knees' etc)

Withdrawing troops immediately from Iraq I suppose we would quickly find out whether the Iraqi govt can cope - or maybe we might get a CIA assasination - hope John has got life insurance!

Talks with Syria and Iran We really are talking a CIA hitman here!

Minimum wage set at £7

Ditch ID cards Well at least this would please the paranoid luddites but they are so few in number it won't win you any elections!

Renationalise the railways

Ditch Trident

Some of these policies would be very popular with party members and a debate would be welcome I think, maybe they are unaffordable or politically unattainable but lets hear the arguments and more importantly let the public hear them.

2 comments:

  1. Renationalise the railways? Clearly that one hasn't been thought through... When the Major administration privatised it, they effectively closed the door on renationalisation. The cost would be astronomical. There are better ways to spend taxpayers' money.

    Paranoid luddites (not that we are, we are merely students of history and human nature) account for a little over 50% at the last count and as with similar campaigns elsewhere, there is a growing swell of opposition - as people realise just what the NIR will mean to them. Mind you, it wouldn't take that large a proportion of refusniks to screw the system - the Poll Tax should loom sharp in ministers' minds. It wasn't the riots that did for it; it was a persistent refusal to cooperate.

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  2. Renationalise the railways? Clearly that one hasn't been thought through... When the Major administration privatised it, they effectively closed the door on renationalisation. The cost would be astronomical. There are better ways to spend taxpayers' money.

    But the money saved from current subsidies would cover the cost within 5 years. In addition, re-nationalisation of the railways is something supported by the overwhelming majority of people - are tax-payers not a good judge of how their money should be spent?

    Of course, it wouldn't necessarily cost that much to re-nationalise. If the government simply stated that it had no intention to renew the franchises, they'd all quickly come begging to be let out early.

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