John McDonnell MP launched his campaign to be the next leader of the Labour Party at a Labour Representation Committee fringe meeting at PCS Conference. Below is an edited extract of his speech.
Some of you will know what’s been happening in the Labour Party recently. In 2007, I came to this conference and received a very warm reception. It was the day I had to concede that I couldn’t get on to the ballot paper for the Labour Party leadership and what then happened was a coronation of Gordon Brown. We had this bizarre spectacle of only one name on the ballot paper.
It’s moved on now. There has been a democratic transformation of the Labour Party. We are now going to have one family on the ballot paper!
I’m told today that Ed Balls is going to announce his candidacy. So we’ll have the sons of Blair and the son of Brown and in a few years time, at the next General Election, we may well have the son of the General Election defeat of 2010 if we don’t re-establish democracy within the Labour Party.
I was canvassed last week by a New Labour ex-minister who phoned me up and asked me whether I would be supporting Ed Miliband. I said, “Is this the Secretary of State for Climate Change who actually proposed the third runway at Heathrow which would most probably make anything up to ten thousand of my constituents homeless? Is this the person who wrote the manifesto which included a commitment that there be no further expansion of airports around the country except in my constituency? Is this the person who was in the negotiating team with the Liberals who offered up the third runway as part of the deal establishing a Lib-Lab coalition?” So I said to them, “You’d better put me down as a doubtful.”I’ve always supported the older Miliband. He made a statement a number of years ago that says this: “The idea that trade unions have too much power is part of a distortion of reality, one of whose purposes is to obscure the power of capital. A socialist government would acknowledge that trade unions were an important line of defense to redress the wage earners and other employees. A socialist government would seek to strengthen trade unions.” You can see why I supported Ralph Miliband over the years.
Since Gordon Brown has announced he’s standing down, there’s been immense pressure from rank and file members of the Labour Party, trade unionists and others for me to stand again as a tribune of the left within the Party and the wider movement. If I couldn’t get on the ballot paper in 2007, it’s going to be extremely difficult to do it this time around.
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