John McDonnell: I hope the next Labour leader will be a woman
John McDonnell has said that he hopes the next leader of the Labour party will be a woman.
The Shadow Chancellor - who has been tipped as a possible successor to Jeremy Corbyn himself - told a Mumsnet webchat that he hoped a female candidate would take over the top job when a vacancy arises.
Mr McDonnell made the admission after he was forced to defend the party’s efforts to improve gender equality following one user’s accusation that the party had a “really sh***y record with women”.
Unlike the Conservatives, Labour has never had a permanent female leader in its 118-year history.
But the Shadow Chancellor said: “The Labour Party has more women representatives that any of the political parties. We are the first party to have a Shadow Cabinet which is 50/50 men and women and I am hoping that the next leader of the party will be a woman.
“We are continuing with all-women shortlists for selections - as the first party to do so - because this has been very successful.”
His comments will be seen a boost for Shadow Cabinet members Rebecca Long-Bailey, Angela Rayner and Emily Thornberry, who have all been tipped as future Labour leadership candidates.
Mr McDonnell also faced torrent of questions from Mumsnet users about the ongoing row over self-identification for trans people.
He outlined plans to hold discussions with groups from both sides of the debate in the hope that an “effective policy” could be created.
But some users were less impressed with the responses, blasting the Shadow Chancellor for giving a “masterclass in avoiding the nub of the question”, while another said that that his responses had made them “really angry”.
“No wonder Labour are losing voters”, they fumed.
“He’s been told by several posters why they cannot currently vote Labour and his responses indicate that he just doesn’t give a f**k about any of these reasons.”
And in another bruising encounter, Mr McDonnell was branded “mealy mouthed” for restating Labour’s commitment to honour the outcome of the Brexit referendum.
“The issue here is that we have to respect the referendum that took place”, he said.
“Otherwise, we will be accused of flying in the face of a democratic decision. All the polling at the moment demonstrates that the country is deeply divided.”
He added: “We want to see if we can secure a general election because if Labour takes over the negotiations we believe we can get a deal agreed that will bring the country back together again.”
“[Labour] will vote and work to ensure that we avoid a no deal situation,and bring about a majority position for a deal that protects jobs and the economy and brings the country together.”
But the Mumsnet community hit back at the comments, saying he had failed to answer any of the questions “related to disability, illness or carers in regards to Brexit”.
Another user said they were “disappointed John took the time to answer what his favourite biscuit was and not answer something more serious and pressing”.
Politicians have frequently been given a tough time by the Mumsnet community.
In 2009, then Prime Mininister Gordon Brown was roundly mocked after repeatedly dodging questions about his favourite biscuit.
And Jeremy Corbyn drew the ire of the parenting forum during last year's general election campaign after showing up late and leaving early from his scheduled webchat.