The fight in Parliament
While other so-called “Labour lefts” rally around the flag of the government at every opportunity, when the chips are down, John McDonnell has shown his refusal to tow the line at the expense of socialist principles.
In the 31 October vote on whether to hold an inquiry into the war in Iraq, John was one of just 12 Labour MPs to vote against Blair, who wanted to escape scrutiny on the matter. Michael Meacher and Diane Abbott were both absent from the vote, choosing not to take the government to task. Meacher has called for a “radical change of direction” in government, and looks to be standing in the leadership race himself — those fooled by his leftist posing should take note.
A 6 November debate around extradition of suspects, particularly to the United States, also saw McDonnell rebelling against the government; along with seven Labour colleagues. These included Harry Cohen and Jeremy Corbyn, who like John had called for an inquiry into the war. Sadly, not even all of the Socialist Campaign Group’s Labour MPs are prepared to take such issues seriously.
On Thursday November John McDonnell spoke at no less than five meetings in Oxford.
John spoke to Unison members from Brookes University and Oxfordshire Health branches and to the FBU, receiving unanimous support at both meetings. Discussion at the former would have centred on the threat to health services in Oxfordshire, where six hundred jobs have gone and services are threatened with closure.
John also spoke to a University Labour Club meeting, visited and spoke at Ruskin College to both students and college workers.
An evening meeting in the Town Hall was far from being a "rally", it was participatory and non-sectarian. Local supporters speaking alongside John included councillor John Tanner, Emma Goodall, Secretary of Oxford City Council UNISON, Brian Hodgson, Chair of Witney CLP and Carys Afoko, a local campaigner on refugee issues and member of Oxford Left Forum, a student group.
16 November 7pm: Edinburgh J4L- Appleton Tower, Edinburgh University, 11 Crichton Street
17 November 4.30pm: Strathclyde Labour Club — open meeting — Strathclyde Debates Chamber
7.30pm: Glasgow J4L — Scottish TUC Building, 333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow
21 November 7pm: GMB Professional Drivers meeting, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London
23 November 7.30pm: Romford Labour Party GC, Saffron House, 237 South Street, Romford
24 November 7pm: Campaign for Socialism — Scottish Labour Party Conference, Oban
25 November 5pm: No Sweat Conference - SOAS, Thornaugh Street, London (near Euston station)
27 November 7pm: “The Prison System and its Failures”, UCL Debating Society
28 November 1pm: Public Services Not Private Profit, Council Chamber, Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, London