John McDonnell suggests voters ‘prepared to pay more council tax’ to boost local services
John McDonnell has said some voters are willing to pay more in council tax in order to boost local services.
The Shadow Chancellor said he had found a “wisdom of the crowds” while campaigning for Labour ahead of today’s local election.
Speaking on the eve of the poll, he said many people accepted a rise was needed in order to receive a “decent service” from their local authority.
“What people are saying is, the fabric of our community isn’t what it was and it needs addressing,” he said in comments reported by The Guardian.
“The council tax issue is interesting. People have raised the issue of council tax on the doorstep. There’s often Tory councillors saying they’re freezing them. We’re getting on the doorstep, ‘I’d rather pay a bit more to get a decent service’.
“I think there’s a wisdom of crowds, people are saying, after eight years you can’t carry on like this. You can’t just throw a bit of tarmac over a pothole. It’s got to be repaired properly and that takes money.”
The Hayes and Harlington MP also played down expectations which he said had been heaped on Labour ahead of the vote, particularly in long-held Conservative areas like Wandsworth.
“It will be a good night, but we’re being set up by the Tories and the media, so if there’s a single Tory councillor left in this country we’ll have failed,” he said.
“Taking individual councils is difficult - I think it’s really difficult - I know that in my own patch. In Wandsworth there’s a real grassroots campaign going on there. But we’ll have to see how that goes on the night.”
He added: “Local elections are idiosyncratic, in a way that others aren’t. And I’m worried about the weather, too – today’s absolutely freezing. It all depends on turnout.”
Mr McDonnell also said that he was concerned about the impact the recent anti-Semitism scandal could have on winning over Jewish votes, which could be crucial in taking seats like Barnet, in north London.
“I’m concerned about the whole issue, I have been quite tough on it all the way through. I’m worried that people have been turned off,” he continued.
And he added that Labour would use the results as a “platform to challenge" the Government.
“I think they will be pretty good. Then we get back to the detailed work, constituency by constituency, and that’s what we’re aiming at now.”