McDonnell Pledges Support for Strikers

A Times article highlights John McDonnell’s role in an anti-austerity protest rally.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has vowed to bring down the government using direct action.

Mr McDonnell used a speech during an anti-austerity rally in Trafalgar Square on Saturday to back thousands of teachers and nurses who are planning to walk out on strike. The shadow chancellor said that the era of Labour leaders refusing to back strike action was “over”. Mr McDonnell pledged “solidarity” with public servants who strike against Tory cuts and heaped praise on disabled protesters “who on a regular basis are storming parliament”.

According to The Mirror, the avowed Marxist told crowds that they could “bring this government down” before the 2020 election. “We need determination that will defeat them at every opportunity — whether it is in parliament, on the picket lines or on the streets,” Mr McDonnell said. “If we can work in solidarity together, we don’t have to wait to the election in 2020. We have got to work to bring this government down at the first opportunity.” Speaking at the rally, Mr McDonnell said: “For too long Labour leaders in the past have sought to be embarrassed by their association with struggles on the street or industrial action. That era is over. I give you this commitment — whether it is in parliament or on the picket or on streets, this Labour leadership will be with you.

“When they come to academise our schools, if the teachers wish to take industrial action, we will be with them in solidarity,” Mr McDonnell said.

This is useful for Unit 1 political parties as evidence for Labour’s shift leftwards – a closer relationship with unions and the anti-austerity position are good examples. McDonnell in a separate speech also stated that Labour wanted to encourage a rapid growth in worker-controlled businesses (cooperatives) which is further evidence.

Furthermore, it can be used for Unit 1 pressure groups. Firstly, the protest itself included 150,000 demonstrators, the Independent article below includes some of the groups involved (Sisters Uncut and People’s Assembly) and is useful evidence for pressure group action. McDonnell’s comments could also be used to challenge the democratic nature of pressure groups – is it right that unelected and unaccountable groups should seek to remove an elected government?



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