As the happy day draws ever nearer when Tony Blair finally and no doubt reluctantly falls on his sword and triggers a Labour leadership contest, the campaign for John McDonnell MP to be on the ballot paper continues to pick up steam. Last summer Socialist Appeal said that not only should there be a serious left wing challenge for the leadership position but that the campaign should not wait but get started straight away. We argued that such a campaign would mobilise tremendous interest and enthusiasm throughout the party ranks, inside the trade unions and beyond. With the John4leader campaign this has proved to be the case.
The Blair/Brownites are starting to get worried. They have been reduced to hurling insults about how ‘dour' John is. Well let's put it to the test – put John on the ballot paper and let us see who is the more inspiring in open debate. In truth they already know that John's message will win hands down with activists and Labour voters and that is what scares them.
In another attempt to derail the growing groundswell of support for John, soft (very soft!) left-winger Michael Meacher has also announced that he is to put his name forward as a potential candidate. This is a joke – Meacher should be told to go back to sleep and not split the drive for nominations. Interestingly he has not expressed an interest in the more-logical deputy leader position which suggests that he is being encouraged as a wrecking tactic rather than as a serious option. Owen Jones from the campaign office has sent out the following message on this which we would support: ‘Nothing has changed as far as our campaign is concerned. John McDonnell has received the support of grassroots activists in the Labour party and trade union movement across the country. The campaign has been unanimously or overwhelmingly backed by the national executives of ASLEF, the RMT, and the FBU, the key trade union broad lefts such as T&G Broad Left, Amicus Unity Gazette, CWU Broad Left, Unison United Left, and grassroots organisations of the Labour left such as the Scottish Campaign for Socialism and Welsh Labour Grassroots.'
‘As you know, we've been running a grassroots campaign from the very start. We've held dozens of packed public meetings across the country. Huge numbers of people have joined or rejoined the Labour party. Already, we have reached the halfway mark of the parliamentary nominations required in order to stand.'
‘John is the only candidate standing who has consistently opposed the war against Iraq, opposed privatisation of our public services, opposed attacks on civil liberties, and supported trade union rights.'
We call on all readers to find out what is happening with the campaign and give full support. Visit the John4leader website and take note of the various meetings and events. You can even visit YouTube and watch a series of short videos. The March 31st rally in London should be put in everybody's diary. You should be getting on to your local Labour MP (if you have one) to put pressure on them to support John's nomination drive. The idea that Brown might end up as the only candidate is a disgrace, worthy of the sort of regimes that Blair and Bush always seem keen to invade and bomb! We need a choice and John McDonnell is the name that activists are increasingly supporting as a clear break from the neo-con rubbish of Blair and Brown.