Shadow chancellor role for McDonnell
Hayes & Harlington MP appointed by leader Corbyn
NEWLY-ELECTED Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell as his shadow chancellor.
Mr McDonnell ran Mr Corbyn’s campaign and is a long-running political ally of the new party supremo, so his role as number two has not come as a huge surprise to many.
But some political commentators have raised eyebrows at the decision to appoint a close friend to such a key position, saying it leaves Mr Corbyn open to accusations of cronyism.
A number of former Labour front benchers, including leadership contenders Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, ruled themselves out of serving in a Corbyn shadow cabinet due to ideological differences.
Mr McDonnell, who was elected to parliament in 1997, had previously put himself forward to represent the party’s far left in the Labour leadership elections of 2007 and 2010, but failed to make the ballot.
He is the Parliamentary Convenor of the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group of eight trade unions representing more than half a million workers, and before entering parliament he served as a researcher for the National Union of Mineworkers, then the Trades Union Congress.
He served as deputy leader of the Greater London Council in the early 1980s before being removed by then leader Ken Livingstone due to a row over his handling of the budget.
When he was awarded a fellowship by Birkbeck University, where he used to study, he was described by Joanna Bourke as a ‘tireless advocate for the downtrodden’.
In a blog on his website last month, Mr McDonnell had urged people to ‘ignore the hysteria’ from within the party and outside over Mr Corbyn’s economic proposals.
He wrote that the Labour leader-to-be was ‘committed’ to eliminating the deficit, adding ‘our plans to tax the very rich and reshape the economy are sound common sense’.
There has been criticism from some Labour MPs of the lack of women in the traditionally most prestigious roles in Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.
But Mr McDonnell told the BBC the shadow cabinet would be ‘genderbalanced’ and said the real top jobs were those providing services like health and education.