Tuesday, 31 May 2016
Khan is right, McDonnell wrong - EU vote more important than anything else
After the trouble Labour found itself in after the Scottish referendum campaign, I like many hoped that the Labour Party had learnt from those mistakes and we would run our own campaign to remain in Europe.
I am pleased that Mr Corbyn has backed the remain campaign but I feel he could do far more, as could the Shadow Chancellor - John McDonnell. It has been quite noticeable that the Labour big hitters campaigning the hardest to keep the UK in Europe are former Labour Front Bench members not Corbyn supporters.
The Tories are in turmoil over the referendum, Johnson and Gove are putting their own leadership aspirations over what is best for the country.
Over the last few weeks as I have campaigned for a 'remain' vote I have come to realise that this is the most important vote my generation will ever make, so the party are right to run our own campaign under Alan Johnson but it also obvious that the consequences of exiting Europe and being left with a country under the control of Boris and Gove that at times we may find ourselves sharing a platform with Tories, Lib Dems, Greens and even the SNP - so I fully understand why Sadiq Khan was happy to campaign alongside Cameron at the weekend.
At a 'Labour In For Britain' event, John McDonnell was asked by an audience member whether, like Mr Khan, the party should put aside its differences with Mr Cameron to campaign for a Remain vote.
He replied: "The Europe that the Tories want is not our Europe. Cameron went to negotiate away workers' rights in advance of this referendum. If he could have done it, he would have done.
"If Cameron and his crew are still in power after this referendum they will continue dismantling our welfare state. They will continue to cut benefits, undermine wages and cut public service jobs. This will go on.
"Sharing a platform with them discredits us. It demotivates the very people we are trying to mobilise."
But speaking at the weekend, Mr Khan defended his decision to campaign with Mr Cameron.
He said: "Is it in London’s interests for me to hold grudges? Is it in London’s interests for the Mayor of London to be at permanent war with the Conservative Prime Minister? There are many areas on which the Prime Minister and I disagree, we’re never going to be best friends, but what’s important is for the Mayor of London argues the case for London and for Londoners to remain in the European Union.
"I’m willing to put aside our differences, put aside the grudges that he or I may have because this argument, this debate, is far more important than David Cameron or me. It’s about our city’s future, our country’s future, it’s about the patriotic, positive case for us to remain in the EU.”
If anything after the way Cameron had previously spoke about Sadiq, it was Khan and the Labour Party who benefited most over the event as it indicated that Labour politicians were willing to put the future of the country over personal grievances.
We need to campaign as had for a 'remain' vote as we did in the elections in May, so John McDonnell should be more worried about Jeremy Corbyn taking a short holiday with under a month to go before the referendum not to mention his planned visit to Glastonbury in the last days of the campaign. Sadiq Khan did what was best not only for London but also the Labour Party and the whole of the UK.
More of a worry to me is that other 'moderate' Labour MPs will seek positions as city Mayor's rather than staying in Parliament to fight not only for the British people but also the future of the Labour Party.