CommentJohn McDonnell

Preparing for Government - to change the world!

CommentJohn McDonnell
Preparing for Government - to change the world!

JOHNSON IS WAGING THE CLASSIC Lynton Crosby election campaign. It starts with a very basic analysis of the opinion polls. The Tories’ financial backers in the City are funding a massive opinion polling exercise for the Tories. The polls are telling them that the top three issues are Brexit, crime and the NHS.

The Brexit polling confirms that most people have had enough and want it sorted one way or another - but it’s also increasingly telling them that there is now a majority against a no-deal Brexit and a majority for Remain.

That doesn’t suit the Tory electoral base. So the policy adviser who runs Johnson, Cummings, has developed the pretty obvious strategy of provoking a general election - portraying the struggle as between Parliament and the EU on the one side and the people on the other. In this way Cummings/Johnson aim to consolidate the Leave vote, either allying with or burning the Brexit Party.

On both crime and the NHS Johnson has made a few gesture announcements to try to neutralise the people’s anger after nine years of harsh austerity that has resulted in an NHS under deep stress and a police service stretched to near breaking point.

It doesn’t matter that these policy announcements are largely fictitious when it comes to new funding or delivery on the ground. Johnson has always had a problem with distinguishing the difference between truth and lie. Integral to the Crosby strategy is to use the Tory media to launch personal attacks and abuse against the opponent. Objective commentators have described the level of media abuse of Jeremy Corbyn as beyond anything they have ever witnessed in the past.

Labour’s response has of course to include the exposure of the Johnson/ Crosby/Cummings strategy. It’s a standard manipulation of the public by the use of lies and the power of the Tory controlled media.

We have to go further though and use the election campaign, that we are now most definitely in, to depict the real world we have to confront and to describe the scale of our ambition to transform it. We have to elevate the debate that is now taking place in this election campaign to address the reality of people’s lives. Let’s just take one issue we have to force on the agenda - an issue Johnson/ Crosby/Cummings will never want to discuss or confront. That is the reality of child poverty in our country, direct from the unchallengeable Child Poverty Action Group.

  • There were 4.1 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2017-18. That's 30% of children, or nine in a classroom of 30.

  • There are expected to be 5.2 million children living in poverty in the UK by 2022. 47% of children living in loneparent families are in poverty.

  • Children from black and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be in poverty: 45% are now in poverty, compared with 26% of children in white British families.

  • London has the highest rate of child poverty in the country.

  • A new report describes children growing up in shipping containers, office blocks and B&Bs. The report stated that there could be more than 210,000 homeless children in England - 124,000 officially homeless and living in temporary accommodation, plus around 90,000 living in “sofasurfing” families.

  • Child poverty reduced dramatically between 1998 and 2012 when 800,000 children were lifted out of poverty.

  • Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. 70% of children growing up in poverty live in a household where at least one person works.

These facts describe what faces millions of our children in the fifth largest economy in the world. It should shame us all that we have allowed this to take place. Even those who do not experience poverty still have a sense that this is not the society in which they want to live. They too want change. Labour demonstrated under Gordon Brown that government policies can make a massive difference in lifting children out of poverty.

When we go into government the policies we introduce should show to our people that we will eliminate child poverty in our country. That is the scale of our ambition – to be the first country in the modern world to ensure no child in our country ever experiences poverty. There are so many other groups in our society and so many other issues about which we must now raise the level of debate over in this election campaign.

Our task is to go into government planning and knowing we can change the world.


Shadow Chancellor, MP for Hayes and Harlington, Chair of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs and Chair of the Labour Representation Committee. John has been involved in Labour Briefing since the early years.