Friday, 30 March 2007

John McDonnell - What Now?

John McDonnell - What Now?

At some point I was going to post again about John McDonnell’s bid for the leadership of the Labour party (my first McDonnell post is here at I was prompted to write tonight because of a post - Lobby Now for John McDonnell - on another blog ( The blogger, Susan, mentioned that McDonnell had the support of only about 22 MPs of the 44 needed to make the leadership ballot.

This brought my doubts back to the surface.

When I read about John’s “manifesto” I was so pleased because I had found policies I believed in but I had nagging doubts.

John McDonnell won’t win a general election.

John McDonnell won’t win the leadership.

John McDonnell may not even get the support of the 44 MPs which he needs for his nomination to go forward.

Therefore, what is the point of supporting John when the support will be unsuccessful. Should John make the ballot for leader the party debate, which will be held in the media, could lead to divisions which will be exploited by the Conservatives. Supporting John could increase the chances of a Conservative government.

Now, I know a scenario such as I have described would be a fairly elementary tactic to scare MPs and Labour party members to hide any divisions by falling in line behind Brown (say) but yet there is a certain logic to that.

I know too that many on the left will continue to support John regardless of his level of support.

The questions I have for those are:


“Why support John McDonnell when he has no chance of winning either election?”

“Why risk damaging the party’s chances of electoral success?”

I ask these questions only to help me resolve my difficulties. There is no intent to rubbish John or his supporters.

Now let me do my thinking on this page and put down reasons I think others may continue to support John.

Some might say:

“I believe in John and in his policies. I would be a hypocrite to deny my beliefs by supporting another candidate or by withdrawing my support from John. Whether brown or Cameron win the election is largely irrelevant because both follow similar policies. Therefore, my support for John - even if divisions are highlighted - is unlikely to have a huge effect on the country is governed.”


“A general election defeat for Labour may bring benefit to the left-wing of the party because the defeat will generate a reappraisal of its direction. Getting John onto the leadership ballot will raise he profile and policies of the left and so, should there be a reappraisal, the left will be better organised and better known to take advantage.”


“Even if John fails to make the ballot, his campaigning to date has raised the profile of the left after the years of Blairism. This is worthwhile because, although we would like success in the short-term, being successful at some point is crucial.”


“Following the Blair or Brown route is a guarantee of a continued right-wing policies and such is the disdain in which the party is held that the next election may be unwinnable. Therefore, there is little to lose by supporting my core beliefs.”


“My belief in socialist policies are so strong that I’d rather have a Tory government than compromise my beliefs.”


“If those with minority views gave up on them nothing would ever change. We would be a mono – society. Change is only possible because mainstream views are challenged. This is how it is on the left of the Labour party. We are a minority but change is possible but only if we continue to hold on to and grow our base.”


“ I have been a socialist virtually all my life. I am not changing my beliefs now just to make others’ political lives easier.”

There are so many possible reasons but I think, now, that my doubts arise because my leftism is intellectual. I am not a member of any political grouping nor of the Labour, or any other, party. Therefore, given that my support is intellectual my doubts too are free to be aired intellectually and my doubts have the same strength as my support: each given equal time and importance.

I assume that for most, if not all other, supporters of John McDonnell their support is almost visceral. Their belief in the policies is so strong, there commitment total that the questions which concern me don’t even arise for them.

I would be interested to hear from supporters of John.

1 comment:

  1. I think there should have been a left/centre left primary and have blogged that.

    But that ain't going to happen. Brown won't want a coronation really. he would be constantly teased about it. Therefore he will mandate 20 or so Brownies to get McDonnell on the ballot (without recriminations) and save his monstering for the Nu Lab right IMO.

    I wish there was a candidate more likely to win with John's programme.

    The debate will not help the Tories - in fact the very opposite.

    It will help Brown's legitimacy - assuming no miracles - and for every tiny move to the left from GB it will help the world and the party and the movement.

    Having the debate is very important.

    If GB only has to compromise with nutters like Clarke he will be dragged rightwards.