'Furious' John McDonnell only learned of Communist flags after May Day march

Posted On: 
5th May 2017

John McDonnell has insisted he had no idea there were Communist flags at a union march he addressed earlier this week. 

John McDonnell addressing the May Day march in Trafalgar Square
Credit: 
Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The Shadow Chancellor said he was “absolutely furious” when he found out that there were banners of the hammer and sickle, as well as a Syrian flag, behind him when he spoke at a May Day rally in central London on Monday.

“No, of course I didn’t know,” Mr McDonnell told the Today programme.

John McDonnell: Labour's 'mixed' fortunes will improve as public sees more of Corbyn

John McDonnell attacks BBC for broadcasting Tory 'lies'

John McDonnell tells Ken Livingstone to apologise but refuses to be drawn on Labour expulsion

“It was a TUC May Day celebration; I was there to celebrate May Day, which was a celebration of the contribution workers make to our economy.”

And he added that he would “of course” have demanded the flags come down if he had noticed them in advance.

“My goodness, yeah! It was only afterwards. The TUC organisers didn’t know they were there. Someone had obviously shoved them up and I was furious afterwards and I think so were the organisers themselves.

“We’re talking about the Trades Union Congress! It isn’t an organisation that backs any of these sorts of movements. That’s appalling.”

Former Labour MP Michael Dugher appeared sceptical about the Shadow Chancellor’s protestations.