John McDonnell says Labour membership is 'a tactic'

Posted On: 
13th March 2016
Two former frontbenchers have called on John McDonnell to consider his position after describing his membership of the party as a “tactic”, while rebels are stepping up their preparations to challenge Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr McDonnell has come under fire after his comments from 2012 about the Labour party emerged.

“I’m not in the Labour party because I’m a believer of the Labour party as some supreme body or something God-given or anything like that. It’s a tactic. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

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“If it’s no longer a useful vehicle, move on.”

Former shadow minister Angela Smith said: “It is quite clear from the comments he is broadly following an entryist Trotskyist agenda which is incompatible with Labour values.”

Jamie Reed, who quit the front bench when Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader, added: "Any Labour MP... who sees the party as nothing but a disposable vehicle for their own ambitions should consider their place within it.”

Meanwhile, MPs are said to be resigned to the fact that Mr Corbyn would make it back onto the ballot paper for the contest triggered by a coup.

“You keep shooting until he is dead,” an unnamed MP told the Sunday Times.

“If he got on the ballot paper and won we would just have to go at him again and just keep doing it until he loses.”

The comments mirror a similar message cited in the Mail on Sunday: “We're not going to be able to keep him off. We're just going to have to beat him in a stand-up fight.”

MoS columnist Dan Hodges also revealed some of the preparations of anti-Corbyn MPs: “The first things to be put in place will be a secure communications and intelligence network. A new – and anonymous – Gmail account is being set up to allow the moderates to communicate without fear of detection. A shadow whipping system is also being established.”

Mr Hodges claims Angela Eagle, not Dan Jarvis, is the preferred choice of many Labour MPs to be the main challenger to Mr Corbyn.

“Angela is serious, she understands the party, she's a woman, and no one can accuse her of being a Blairite outrider,” an MP said.

Neither Ms Eagle nor Mr Jarvis would be the ones to trigger the leadership challenge, however, with a repeated call for an MP to “martyr themselves” to get rid of Mr Corbyn.