Shadow chancellor tells Havering ‘Corbyn’s Labour can inspire’

John McDonnell speaks at Havering Sixth Form College

John McDonnell speaks at Havering Sixth Form College - Credit: Archant

Jeremy Corbyn, the London housing crisis and Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book were all under discussion when the shadow chancellor spoke in Havering last week.

The ten weeks since Jeremy Corbyn MP was elected leader of the Labour party have been turbulent for John McDonnell MP.

Scenes of supporters breaking toilet windows to enter rallies have given way to media appearances defending his “embarrassing, embarrassing, embarrassing” u-turn over the Charter for Budget Responsibility and that stunt with the red book.

But despite opposition Mr McDonnell stressed his belief that Mr Corbyn – initially reluctant to fight for the leadership of the party – is the right man for the job.

He said: “That’s the type of leader I want. I do not want a careerist I want someone who has to be forced to be a leader.

“We have lost an election but the issues people are raising – we have policies that will tackle all of them and we can inspire.”

It had been a busy Thursday for Mr McDonnell who before arriving at Havering Sixth Form College, Wingletye Road, Hornchurch, had been giving interviews about the Autumn Spending Review.

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Many reports of the Chancellor’s speech focused on Mr McDonnell’s decision to quote from Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book.

Mention of the stunt received a round of applause in Havering with Mr McDonnell telling the audience: “I thought ‘blow it I will go for him’.

“I produced my old red book and threw it at him.”

Mr McDonnell has credited the stunt with allowing him to raise the issue of government plans to sell off national assets.

He said: “What that did it got me the opportunity to tour round every television and radio station this morning to be blasted about using Chairman Mao but to get my issue across.”

When it came to policy Mr McDonnell said he would build homes, introduce rent control and make it illegal for properties to sit empty for a long period of time.

He said he would tackle tax evasion and remove tax reliefs for big businesses to prevent welfare cuts, give local authorities back the power to build schools and increase funding for the NHS.

At the talk, organised by Havering Young Labour, Mr McDonnell acknowledged that foreign policy decisions – such as Syria and the renewal of Trident – would be challenging for his party.

Mr McDonnell also said that winning the next election would be “tough, really tough”.

“The whole establishment is coming at us now. It’s because we are challenging them,” he added.

Video by @georgesarge

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