John McDonnell says it could take two years to rebuild Labour’s economic credibility

Posted On: 
20th March 2017

Labour may not recover its credibility in the minds of the public for another two years, according to John McDonnell.

John McDonnell at the 2016 Labour party conference
PA Images

The Shadow Chancellor's gloomy prediction comes just a month after he said the party would turn around its fortunes within 12 months.

Mr McDonnell said Labour was still suffering the consequences of being in power at the time of the financial crash in 2008.

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He also criticised the media for not giving the party under Jeremy Corbyn a “fair hearing”.

His comments, in an interview with the i newspaper, come after Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s elections and campaigns chief, said the party’s headquarters had been on an “early election footing” since before Christmas.

Mr McDonnell said: “The reality is that Labour was in power in 2007, 2008 when the crash occurred.

“Right across Europe, whoever was in power then was blamed for that economic crash, and Labour has never recovered.

“We have been consistently about 20 points behind in economic credibility in the polls since then.

The senior frontbencher agreed that Labour has not made inroads in changing that perception on economic credibility, but added: “I think it will turn, but it’s obviously hard work, of course it is.

“Over the next 18 months, 24 months, I think it will turn and we will be ready for the general election at that stage.”

Turning to the media, Mr McDonnell said Labour was successfully spreading its message via social platforms and had “reinvented” word of mouth as a means of political communication.

“We’re not getting a fair hearing with the media, but that’s to be expected – we are trying to transform society,” he explained.

“We have reinvented word of mouth as a form of political communication,” he added.

“The meetings that we do, people come along, they come out convinced, and spread the word.”

And he insisted that Mr Corbyn was backed by a “quite visionary” Shadow Cabinet that is going down well with the public.

“The mood in the party on the ground is pretty buoyant. We’ve got a lot of people working hard, we’ve got a huge membership and new campaigners on a scale we have never had before.”

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Politics Mr Gwynne, shadow minister without portfolio, said Labour has been building up a war chest in preparation for the Prime Minister going to the public before 2020.

He also suggested Labour would back dissolving parliament, saying it would be “very difficult” not to vote with the Government if Theresa May moved to repeal the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.