Because I’m a have a soft spot for John McDonnell, I’ve linked to his campaign site for the Labour leadership. (I’ve written a post about the Labour Party which I will put up after May 3rd.)
The campaign got going last summer. I was under the impression at the time that this was just an attempt to reheat Labour, to give it a left gloss. McDonnell was, in my imagination, an arrogant sort – though it turns out that this is Michael Meacher.
I was at a public event at which McDonnell spoke, but missed his speech. John is a soft-spoken man, a listener rather than a loudmouth. His politics are honest enough, he’s something of a Bennite, though obviously McDonnell is of more modest background than the senior Tony. He has spoken in favour of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, but this is not Third Worldist grand-standing. He favours a the implementation of social rights including a citizens’ income and universal free education, healthcare and childcare, with the aim of constructing a 21st century socialism.
The McDonnell campaign has modest aims, to get on the ballot for the Labour leadership and see how it goes. He needs 44 Labour MPs to back him, and he has 11 declared in his favour. Unlike his rival, the ex-Minister Meacher, he does not have delusions of grandeur. Meacher has claimed he has more support than McDonnell, though has yet to gain the open support of a single Labour MP (other than himself). The best that could be hoped for at this point is a public debate on issues affecting the working class and the future of the Labour Party rather than the farce of Meacher’s campaign.
The Socialist Workers’ Party and the Socialist Party of England and Wales have expressed their approval of his campaign to get on the ballot, though as both groups now have their own electoral parties on the go, they are not in a position to put this support into effect. Though, I suppose, members of trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party will be eligible to vote in the contest, and so I imagine that they will put the call out for a vote for McDonnell nearer the time.
I am not a member of a affiliated trade union and could not bear to join the Labour Party, so I will be unable to support him if he does get on the ballot. Still, if you are in a position to vote in the leadership contest, I advise you to lend your support to John McDonnell.
But don’t just take my word for it!