Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Labour's problem is not just Corbyn: it's John McDonnell too

It is not just Jeremy Corbyn's leadership that threatens disaster for Labour at the next election. It is also the presence in a senior position of John McDonnell.

If you doubt me, imagine the use the Conservatives will make of this quotation on their leaflets:
"It's about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA."
Those words were spoken by John McDonnell at In 2003, at a gathering in London to commemorate the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sand.

The New Statesman says that McDonnell later told the Sun:
The deaths of innocent civilians in IRA attacks is a real tragedy, but it was as a result of British occupation in Ireland. 
Because of the bravery of the IRA and people like Bobby Sands we now have a peace process.
It's true that, after McDonnell became shadow chancellor and these remarks received publicity, he apologised for them "from the bottom of my heart".

But I don't think the Tories will include that on their leaflets.

Besides, McDonnell defence that he said those words to encourage the Provisional IRA to participate in the peace process do not add up. It was securely in place by the time he said them.

And, as the Telegraph once laid bare, McDonnell had opposed that process:
Mr McDonnell told the IRA’s official newspaper that he opposed the peace process negotiations to create a power-sharing assembly in what became the Good Friday Agreement. 
He said: “An assembly is not what people have laid down their lives for over thirty years…the settlement must be for a united Ireland.”
Maybe the IRA bombing campaign on the mainland is too long ago to move voters. But I was working in London at the time shoppers and workers were being killed by it.

The very least I expect from the party of the workers is that it condemns those who murder them. That was too much to ask of Mr McDonnell.

Which is why I would put that quotation on every Liberal Democrat leaflet too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Strange. Gladstone and Lloyd George both realised that Irish nationalist violence was due to British occupation and policy in Ireland. It seems McDonnell is more of a Gladstonian than many current 'Liberal' Democrats.