Jeremy Corbyn would be Prime Minister if election campaign had been two weeks longer, John McDonnell says

Labour pushes ahead with plans to force Theresa May out of power

Benjamin Kentish@BenKentish
Sunday 11 June 2017 16:42
Jeremy Corbyn was 64 seats away from winning a House of Commons majority
Jeremy Corbyn was 64 seats away from winning a House of Commons majority

Labour would have secured a parliamentary majority and Jeremy Corbyn would now be Prime Minister if the election campaign had been just two weeks longer, John McDonnell has claimed.

The shadow Chancellor said people had chosen Labour’s “politics of hope over the politics of fear”.

Writing in The Observer following the shock election result that denied Theresa May a House of Commons majority, Mr McDonnell insisted Labour will still attempt to form a government if the Prime Minister proves unable to govern with the help of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

“My judgement is that if the campaign had been a couple of weeks longer, we would have secured a majority, given the narrowness of the voting in so many seats,” he said.

“Our political system has never been so scarred by the scale of vicious personal attacks, lies and smears that we witnessed in this election campaign. All were based upon terrifying people into voting against something or someone, rather than inspiring them with hope for a different future.

“This election demonstrated the large-scale rejection of such politics and may have brought about the first real cracks in the edifice of control of popular political debate by the media-owning oligarchs.”

Mr McDonnell said that Labour had benefited from the fact that its entire manifesto was leaked to the media days before it was due to be published.

“Whoever leaked our manifesto to damage us, in fact did us a favour,” he said. “Instead of a day’s coverage of our policies, we received several days of scrutiny, significant parts of which, at least on the broadcast media, were relatively balanced.

“The manifesto proved to be a hugely popular boost. The manifesto policies were received for what they are: common-sense solutions to the issues we all face in our society.”

The shadow Chancellor confirmed that Labour will attempt to form an alternative government by putting forward a significant amendment to the Queen’s Speech and ask Parliament to vote for it.

“No party has won this election outright and both major parties now have the right to put their policies and ideas before Parliament,” he said.

“Labour did not win an overall majority but neither did the Tories, and the millions who voted for us must have a voice in determining the future of our country.

“We will place before Parliament policies drawn from our manifesto that we believe are needed to address the challenges Britain now faces and can command support. The issue is who can get the widest support in Parliament that reflects the majority of the electorate.”

There was now no mandate for the “race-to-the-bottom Brexit backed by May”, he added.

Mr Corbyn suggested that there was not enough common ground between the Conservatives and the DUP for them to form an effective coalition.

“It is quite possible there will be an election later this year or early next year and that might be a good thing because we cannot go on with a period of great instability,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“We have a programme, we have support and we are ready to fight another election campaign as soon as may be.”

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