John McDonnell: Jeremy Corbyn would be in No 10 if election campaign was two weeks longer
Labour would have won the general election with an outright majority if the campaign had run for a couple of weeks longer, John McDonnell has declared.
The Shadow Chancellor hailed his party’s result on Thursday night that saw Labour increase their seats in the Commons by 32 and prevent the Tories from securing an expected overall majority.
As a fresh Survation survey puts Labour six points ahead of the Tories, Mr McDonnell claimed that given the “narrowness” of voting in many seats his party would have won outright should the campaign have gone on for 14 more days.
Writing in the Observer the senior frontbencher said Labour’s success had come despite being “pitted against a barrage of highly personalised and poisonous Tory attacks” and the Conservatives’ “expensively funded” campaign.
Mr McDonnell said the more the public came to see of Jeremy Corbyn the more people saw him for the “honest, decent, principled and indeed strong leader he was”.
“When people saw Jeremy on television, most liked what they saw. They recognised him for what he is: a decent man who knows his mind and is determined to achieve his aims, but who engages with people and does not hector them like most politicians,” he said.
“From then on, the momentum stayed with Labour, despite the suspension of campaigning after the two horrific terror attacks in Manchester and London.
“We were pitted against a barrage of highly personalised and poisonous Tory attacks, and a policy-free, expensively funded campaign in the press and on Facebook.
“My judgment 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 also acknowledged that the leaking of Labour’s manifesto did the party a “favour”, with the document acting as a “hugely popular boost”. Mr McDonnell hinted that Labour would seek to push elements of the manifesto in the Commons.
“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 Survation poll, taken following the general election results, found Labour out in front on 45%, with the Tories trailing on 39%.
‘POLITICS OF FEAR’
Mr McDonnell said there were three lessons to take from Thursday’s result: no party won the election outright, Theresa May failed to get a mandate for her Brexit, and the “politics of hope has overcome the politics of fear”.
“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,” he continued.
“And, finally, never again will young people be taken for granted by politicians in this country. The arrogant view that young people don’t count because they don’t vote has thankfully been smashed forever.”
It comes after reports that 150,000 people have joined Labour since the election, taking total party membership to 800,000.
Senior sources told the Observer that Mr Corbyn will soon carry out a reshuffle to his top team and seek to bring in MPs previously sceptical of his leadership within the parliamentary Labour party.
According to the paper these include former shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and one-time leadership contender Chuka Umunna, who has expressed willingness to serve in recent days.