Wednesday, June 16, 2010

John McDonnell: Disconnected

McDonnell sours grapes over his own withdrawal from Labour leadership race

Would-be Labour leader John McDonnell made a splash recently when he suggested that he would like to travel back to the 1980s and assassinate former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

McDonnell later issued a half-hearted apology. The next day he withdrew from the Labour leadership contest.

McDonnell -- who realized that he couldn't get the support of 33 MPs -- has since spoken out about his withdrawal. Oddly, he blames the Labour Party.

"What this has demonstrated is the disconnection of the parliamentary Labour Party -— not just with the Labour and trade union movement—but with the wider working class community," McDonnell fumed.

More particularly, McDonnell blames Labour's newest MPs.

"The parliamentary Labour Party is of a different make up than even ten years ago. Many of the left MPs have stood down," McDonnell complained. "The new MPs are career MPs—very few have come through the traditional roots, through the working class movement."

"Real politics will take place outside of parliament," McDonnell predicted. "I think it will be in the struggles, defending public services, community struggles and trade union fights."

"That extra parliamentary struggle will mean that the parliamentary party will have to respond," he continued. "It will be a test for the new MPs, to see if they rise to the occasion."

But the problem with McDonnell's leadership bid wasn't with Labour's newest MPs. It was with McDonnell himself.

It shouldn't be surprising that McDonnell withdrew from the Labour leadership race only days after musing about assassinating a sitting Prime Minister. (Thatcher is not Prime Minister today, but McDonnell suggested he'd like to time travel in order to kill her during the 1980s.)

Perhaps it doesn't behoove John McDonnell to expect him to understand why sitting MPs wouldn't want a party leader who would muse about assassinating the Prime Minister -- but it should.

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