Labour Party,  The Left,  UK Politics

Will McDonnell step down?

The deadline for the Labour leadership race is almost here and it is time for John McDonnell to do what he hinted at two weeks ago and step aside to allow Diane Abbott to go through and get on the ballot paper.

As it stands McDonnell has 16 votes and Abbott has eleven. I’m betting McDonnell will step aside even more so after he made headlines with his “joke” about assassinating Margaret Thatcher. Referencing the BBC show ‘Ashes to Ashes’ he talked about how he would have like to time travel back to the 1980s to kill Thatcher. He has since apologised, but can you get away with calling that a joke? I think his remarks showed a lack of judgement and were more revealing in other ways.

While McDonnell might have entertained people at the GMB hustings with his comments last I checked Thatcher left office in 20-years ago.  It might be one throw away line playing to the gallery, but it strikes me his comment is indicative of an out of touch mindset on the left that’s rooted in the battles of the 1980s.

As for the leadership race, the votes are still coming in. Andy Burnham is only two votes short on 31 and it would be great for the debate to see him make it through along with Abbott to set up a five way contest between David Miliband, Ed Balls and Ed Miliband.

McDonnell said on May 27 that he might stand aside to ensure Abbott gets on to the ballot paper and now it is time to do so. That’s harsh on McDonnell and ideally, remarks or no remarks, he should be allowed to go through, but that isn’t the way that this contest has been organised and for the sake of the broadest representation in the leadership battle he should stand down.

Jon Cruddas and Harriet Harman are among those backing Abbott and Harman’s office put out this statement: “The Labour Party knows that whoever wins the leadership contest, there will not be a men-only leadership at the top of the Labour party as Harriet will continue in her role as deputy leader.

“However, she feels that the party does not want the leadership election, and the debate that it will generate, to be men only. Harriet will play no part in the eventual outcome as she will not cast her vote. She will continue to serve as deputy leader alongside whoever wins. Therefore, she has nominated Diane.”