All 2 entries tagged John Mcdonnell

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November 16, 2006

An Alternative Queen's Speech

John McDonnell, the left-wing MP hoping to challenge Gordon Brown for the leadership of the Labour Party, has issued an alternative Queen’s Speech, and it’s an interesting mix of the practical and the absurd. Here are some of the most interesting suggestions:

  • Allow non-Britons to work in the Civil Service
  • Faith schools would have to hire people of all faiths
  • Minimum wage would apply to people of all ages
  • Allow councils to invest in new council houses
  • Number of UK homes per person reduced to two
  • Local councils can set their own level of council tax
  • Abolish the Royal Prerogative (the Prime Minister’s ability to declare war)
  • Reduce the voting age to 16
  • Greater devolution to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • Regulation of national newspapers: Only one daily paper per proprietor, and compulsory Readers’ Editors
  • Readers will be permitted to buy stakes in their newspapers
  • Abolition of grammar schools and City Academies
  • Abolition of tuition fees and current student debt
  • Carbon emissions to be cut by 3% every year
  • Subsidies for organic farming
  • Abolition of most anti-terror measures, such as ID Cards and control orders
  • Restore the right to protest outside Parliament
  • Increase international aid budget to 1% of GDP
  • Ban on many weapons being manufactured in the UK
  • Workers’ representatives to be elected to all companies’ boards
  • An extra bank holiday per year
  • Tax on flight tickets and aviation fuel
  • Return railways to public ownership
  • A new freight railway running the length of the country
  • Restore link between pensions and average earnings

I suspect most people will be able to find one or two ideas they agree with. But who would vote for that entire agenda? I applaud Mr McDonnell for his bold attempt to be honest about what he believes in, but I wonder how he will pay for his ideas, and how many of them would actually work.

I wonder whether some of his ideas would have benefited from further advice from outside his very small circle, especially regulation of the newspaper industry, which sounds a lot like restricting freedom of speech.


July 07, 2006

Gordon Brown about to face his first challenger?

The rumour has it that the first challenger to Gordon Brown's coronation as Labour leader (and Prime Minister) will come out from the woodwork this weekend. He'll be scared as his challenger looks set to be the esteemed, notable and highly proficient…......................John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington.

Well, he's all of those things in his constituency at least, where he picked up 58.7% of the vote, beating the unlucky Conservative candidate into second place. If he can repeat this drubbing in the leadership battle then Gordon Brown will be crying into a glass of Scotch whisky as we speak.

Or not… Because it'll never happen. McDonnell represents the Campaign Group of Labour MPs, who are very much to the left of the party, and worship Tony Benn as if he were Gandhi. His 'natural base' is therefore likely to be somewhere in the region of perhaps 50 Labour MPs. Which is a drop in the ocean, especially when you factor in the likelihood that he won't be the only member of the Campaign Group to run against Brown. In fact, fellow MP Michael Meacher is expected to be highly "pissed off" if his lesser–known colleague beats him to it for the leftie vote.

McDonnell voted against the Iraq war, in favour of fox hunting, against ID cards, the terrorism bill and foundation hospitals. All in all, a red–blooded rebel.

The only reason that McDonnell might stand a miniscule chance of coming anywhere near Gordon is the way the leadership will be chosen. 33% of the votes will go to Labour MPs and MEPs, 33% to members of the party and 33% to the trade unions who fund Labour.

Don't be surprised then that McDonnell's leadership bid will be launched at the Durham Miners' Gala on Saturday, where Cabinet minister Hazel Blears will be in attendance, presumably wearing the confused smirk that always seems to adorn her face.

There will almost certainly be a token female candidate for the leadership (and I mean that in the nicest possible way – at least one female Labour MP will run because the Labour MPs will want one, even if they then vote against her), and I suspect there may be at least one more proficient candidate for the job when the leadership election comes. Possibilities include Peter Hain, Jack Straw, Alan Johnson or David Miliband, although Hain would probably be seen as the most likely of those four.

What we can almost certainly take for granted, however, is that Brown will beat his challengers, and will absolutely trounce them if they are as high–profile as Mr McDonnell.


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