John McDonnell muses about assassinating Iron Lady
One of the more interesting ways to assess one's character is to ask them what they would do with a time machine.
If they could go anywhere in history, and change anything they liked, what would they do?
Labour leadership hopeful John McDonnell has his answer. He says that he'd like to "go back to the 1980s and assassinate Thatcher".
As in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher -- one of the famed "big conservative three" of the 1980s, alongside then-US President Ronald Reagan and then-Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
McDonnell made the remarks to a leadership candidate forum for labour unions. His remarks reportedly drew applause.
McDonnell has yet to get on the ballot for the Labour leadership -- party rules dictate that candidates must collect 33 nominations from sitting MPs in order to be formally nominated. However, if fellow candidate David Miliband -- who, along with his brother Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, has received his 33 nominations -- has his way, all six declared candidates will appear on the leadership ballot regardless.
In McDonnell, it appears that the Labour Party has a problem. McDonnell, along with Diane Abbott, are clearly the candidates of left within this race.
It's a key demographic that the party needs to keep in touch with. But candidates like McDonnell musing about assassinating a former Prime Minister -- while hiding behind the notion of victimhood because he was employed by a union, not working in the industry the union represented -- will only drive much-needed moderates away from that demographic, and possibly out of the party altogether.
There's clearly a moral reason why McDonnell cannot be allowed to simply write the remark off as "a joke". But there are practical political reasons as well.
The Labour Party cannot afford to let John McDonnell simply walk with that particular remark. It may be better off if McDonnell never manages to reach the 33-nomination threshhold.