John McDonnell

British Labour politician (born 1951)

John Martin McDonnell (born 8 September 1951) is a British politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hayes and Harlington since 1997. A member of the Labour Party, he was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2015 to 2020.

John McDonnell in 2016




  • It's about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA.
    • Comments at a commemoration of the IRA hunger striker, cited in "MP's 'brave IRA' comments spark outrage" The Guardian (30 May 2003).
    • McDonnell apologised for these comments in September 2015 on the BBC's Question Time: "If I gave offence – and I clearly have – from the bottom of my heart I apologise". Sands died in May 1981. While imprisoned for the possession of firearms, Sands was elected to the Westminster parliament as an MP (at the time current or former prisoners sentenced to more than a year in custody could stand as parliamentary candidates in the UK).


  • [he would be glad to] go back to the 1980s and assassinate Thatcher.
    • Said at a husting gathering at the GMB union's annual conference during the [[w:2010 Labour Party leadership election (UK)|2010 Labour Party leadership election (UK) cited in "John McDonnell says he would like to 'assassinate' Margaret Thatcher" The Telegraph (7 June 2010)
    • McDonnell withdrew from the campaign on 9 June 2010 because he could not gather sufficient nominations. In his September 2015 appearance on the BBC's Question Time he said: "It was an appalling joke. It's ended my career in standup, let’s put it that way, and I apologise for it as well."


  • I was up in Liverpool a fortnight ago where Alec McFadden, one of our organisers, launched the Sack Esther McVey Day, on her birthday. There was a whole group in the audience that completely kicked off quite critical of the whole concept, because they were arguing "Why are we sacking her? Why aren’t we lynching the bastard?"




  • Inevitably in this century we will have open borders. We are seeing it in Europe already. The movement of peoples across the globe will mean that borders are almost going to become irrelevant by the end of this century so we should be preparing for that and explaining why people move.


  • That has been our objective since immediately after the referendum. The structures - whether we are in or out - are a secondary matter. We are not ruling anything out but what we are saying is that we are the fifth largest economy in the world and we have a special status in both our relationship with the EU and the rest of the globe and we feel we can get a deal that achieves tariff-free access.
  • We voted for the implementation of Article 50 because we respect the referendum result. But we cannot have this situation where government becomes unaccountable on the implementation of one of the most important decisions for a generation.


  • If the government says 'well a customs union for a couple of years or maybe customs union until we decide there won't be one,' well actually, that doesn't give the stability for investment for anyone


  • The values of Catholicism are the inherent values of the Labour Party and the inherent values of socialism...
    • [1] The Tablet (21 February 2019)
  • My view is that you'd put the deal to the people, but you'd have to also have the option of the status quo. Deep in my heart, I'm still a Remainer, but I've got to try and bring together effectively what is a British compromise.

About McDonnell

  • John McDonnell, the nearest to a hero in both books. McDonnell worked tirelessly and pragmatically. He wanted to win, knowing that unity and a semblance of coherence were fundamental preconditions for victory. He kept up a dialogue with the so-called moderates and spoke out publicly on both anti-Semitism and the Salisbury poisonings, to the point where he and Corbyn did not talk for several months.
    • Steve Richards "The Accidental Leader", Literary Review (490, October 2020)
    • From a review of Gabriel Pogrund & Patrick Maguire's Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn (The Bodley Head) and Owen Jones' This Land: The Story of a Movement (Allen Lane)
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