John McDonnell: Starmer must be 'more radical' than 2019 manifesto

John McDonnell stokes Labour civil war as he claims Keir Starmer must be ‘MORE radical’ than Jeremy Corbyn was at the disastrous 2019 election as Jo Cox’s sister is expected to be named the party’s candidate for Batley by-election

  • John McDonnell said Sir Keir Starmer must be ‘more radical’ than Jeremy Corbyn
  • Former shadow chancellor said Labour should ‘go further’ than 2019 manifesto
  • It came as Labour is due to unveil its candidate for Batley and Spen by-election 

John McDonnell today claimed Sir Keir Starmer must draw up a Labour Party manifesto even ‘more radical’ than the one Jeremy Corbyn stood on at the 2019 general election. 

The former shadow chancellor risked worsening the party’s civil war as he said it was a ‘valid criticism’ that many voters at the recent ‘Super Thursday’ elections did not know what Sir Keir stands for. 

He said ‘no one expects’ Sir Keir to ‘slavishly’ follow the policies of his predecessor but argued the current leader should ‘go further’ and ‘radicalise’ Labour’s 2019 offering. 

The comments are likely to cause anger among Labour moderates after Mr Corbyn’s approach resulted in the party’s crushing defeat at the ballot box two years ago. 

Mr McDonnell’s intervention came as Labour is set to announce its candidate for the Batley and Spen by-election after Sir Keir’s critics said it will be ‘curtains’ for his leadership if the party loses.  

Kim Leadbeater, the sister of the constituency’s murdered former MP Jo Cox, is widely tipped to be selected to fight the seat.

John McDonnell today claimed Sir Keir Starmer must draw up a Labour Party manifesto even ‘more radical’ than the one Jeremy Corbyn stood on at the 2019 general election

Mr McDonnell told Sky News it was a ‘valid criticism’ that many people do not know what Sir Keir stands for. 

He said: ‘What Keir said when he was elected leader is that he’d use the last manifestos as the sort of foundational documents upon which to build upon, no one expects him to follow slavishly past policies, of course you don’t.

‘In fact the past policies now I think we do need to radicalise them and go further so therefore we should be having, we should have had already, but we should be having now the policy debate about where we go forward, what is our policy programme, what is the narrative, what is the vision of the society that we want to create.’

Mr McDonnell said Sir Keir needed to set out plans to tackle ‘grotesque levels of inequality and poverty’. 

‘The reason we need to be more radical is because we are facing in this country an existential crisis of climate change,’ he said. 

‘We are coming through Covid hopefully… but we are still faced with the same problems, grotesque levels of inequality and poverty, we have seen today that last year more billionaires were made in this country than in the last 30 years and yet in my constituency and elsewhere we are having families struggling just to make sure they can put food on the plates for their children.’  

It came as Labour prepares to unveil its candidate for the Batley and Spen by-election, with Ms Leadbeater viewed as the favourite. 

If selected she will be up against the Leeds councillor Ryan Stephenson, chairman of the West Yorkshire Tories. 

Labour is set to announce its candidate for the Batley and Spen by-election. Kim Leadbeater, the sister of the constituency’s murdered former MP Jo Cox, is widely tipped to be selected to fight the seat

The contest was triggered by the decision of Labour MP Tracey Brabin to quit Westminster following her election as the first mayor of West Yorkshire.

It was previously represented by Mrs Cox until she was shot and stabbed by a far-right extremist in June 2016.

Labour is desperate to hold on to the seat following the party’s crushing defeat in another ‘red wall’ by-election in Hartlepool earlier this month.

The result triggered a bitter round of recriminations, with the Labour left – marginalised under Sir Keir – gunning for the party leader. 

No date has been been set for the contest although Labour – which is defending a majority of 3,525 from the 2019 general election – is widely expected to delay until late July.

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