McDonnell: Labour “lacked credibility” in 2019 but Starmer has offered “banality”

Morgan Jones

John McDonnell has declared that Labour “lacked credibility” in the 2019 general election as the party attempted to “throw everything, every policy we could” at the public – but pointed out that “every bugger wants free broadband now”.

The former Shadow Chancellor also criticised Keir Starmer’s recent policy pamphlet, saying: “11,500 words. We were told it would be 14,000. That missing 2,500 must have been where the politics were.” He described it as “banality after banality”.

He went on to argue that the current leadership lacks a “sense of urgency”, telling the audience that Labour conference 2021 is likely taking place 18 months from a general election as he predicts “Johnson will go in spring of 2023 at the latest”.

McDonnell remarked that “Joe Stalin would be over the moon” about the way the party has treated members recently. Kim Johnson also argued that “how the party used groups against each other at the Batley and Spen by-election was atrocious”.

Johnson, the Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside since 2019, told the event that “to be bold we need to be honest with ourselves” and “we’ve lost the art of discussion and debate”. She added: “We’re not socialists for the thrills. It’s because people like you live in communities and know what is needed.”

Barry Gardiner said: “It’s great to be here with people who think politics is about more than rule books and scheming. Who think it’s a moral crusade.” On the Tories, he asked: “Why is the media not demanding Johnson’s resignation?”

Survation’s Carl Shoben presented the findings of exclusive polling for LabourList, which showed that potential and current Labour voters are divided when presented with a left-wing framing for politics but overwhelmingly in favour of bold policies.

Philippa Marsden discussed the ways in which Welsh Labour is already pursuing a bold agenda, from council house building to the Future Generations Act. She concluded: “We are leading the way in wales, and we are doing that from a socialist heart”.

Labour MPs John McDonnell, Barry Gardiner and Kim Johnson, along with Caerphilly council leader Phillipa Marsden and Survation’s Carl Shoben, discussed bold socialist policy at the LabourList/Unite event chaired by journalist Rachel Shabi.

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