Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

In Defence of John McDonnell and the ‘Entryist’ claim.

with 5 comments


McDonnell: I joined Labour only as a tactic.

Sunday Times.

JOHN McDONNELL, the shadow chancellor, told hard-left allies that he had joined the Labour party as a “tactic” because it was a “useful vehicle”.

MPs have seized on the remarks, caught on film four years ago, as evidence that McDonnell is an “entryist Trotskyist” as rebels prepare the ground for a leadership challenge against his close ally Jeremy Corbyn this summer.

Moderates believe they must act before July 19, when supporters of the Labour leader will be able to submit rule changes shoring up his position to the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC).

Crucially, many MPs, including about half a dozen frontbenchers, are said to have decided that Corbyn must be challenged even if he cannot be kept out of the ensuing contest.

In the article Angela Eagle is cited backing this absurd claim.

As further ‘proof’ poor old Gerry Downing is dragged into the affair.

Let us make a few points clear.

  • McDonnell is a European democratic socialist. He has been a member of the Labour Party since the 1970s. Long-term commitment to the labour movement is at odds with…..’tactical’ membership. People join parties because they find them of some use. Presumably the Sunday Times would have been happier if the Labour Party was of no utility whatsoever in furthering the aims of the left.
  • The Sunday Times is free to call whomsoever they wish ‘hard left’. But in fact McDonnell has clashed with those claiming to be ‘Trotskyist’ on numerous occasions. Specifically we can note this at the Labour Representation Committee AGM of 2013,

    “There was an extraordinary  motion by something called Socialist Fight, (that is Gerry Downing) on Syria.

    This noted that “Negotiation with Russia and Iran disarm Syria of its chemical weapons and Iran from developing nuclear weapons and so prepare for a future attack against weaker enemies.”

    It ended, “The defeat of this utterly bogus ‘revolution’ will defend a relatively secular administration, strengthen the Syrian working class against Assad and dent chauvinism  in US, Britain and France.”

    This was roundly defeated in favour of a policy of defending democratic movements in Syria against Assad and opposing the Western backed jihadists. “Tendance Coatesy 2013.

  • McDonnell is open minded, he has surrounded himself with a variety of informed advisers from the centre left to the radical left. His approach, and good judgement, can be seen from the effort to create an economic policy for Labour based on plans to borrow for public investment programmes. With the development of new ‘reformist’ policies few things further than the behaviour of an ‘entrist’ can be imagined.

Angela Eagle and the like are playing with politics.

As a Leftist Trainspotter I’d say that the behaviour of those cited in the Sunday Times, which runs a hare and then asks those they know will back it to cheer it on,  bears a greater resemblance to the worst kind of underhand Trotskyist manipulation than anything McDonnell has ever done.


Written by Andrew Coates

March 13, 2016 at 1:20 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Well said Andrew, at a time when the Tories are ripping chunks out of each other these LP splitters put their own selfish ambitions above the needs of millions of ordinary workers. Shameful behavior. If Ms Eagle believes McDonnell and Corbyn as so dreadful why has she not resigned from shadow cabinet. Talk about cake and eat it

    Mick Hall

    March 13, 2016 at 1:36 pm

  2. My friend was just going on about this story about the Tories,

    “‘Gove is nuts, Boris is after my job’: David Cameron’s simmering tensions with EU rebels laid bare in minister’s explosive memoirs

    : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3489524/Gove-nuts-Boris-job-David-Cameron-s-simmering-tensions-EU-rebels-laid-bare-minister-s-explosive-memoirs.html#ixzz42mniH7ju

    Andrew Coates

    March 13, 2016 at 1:39 pm

  3. I don’t see how it can known that the entryism claim is ‘absurd’.

    It may of course be false – made up. It could also be true and like near-all Trots who entered, the Labour Party changed them (always rightwards) rather than the vice-versa they originally intended. I also think if he had been a member of say, the IMG or Big Flame or something, that would have been publicised before.

    So I’d go for the false. But either way, it’s irrelevant. It’s his current politics now that are the only ones of interest – and they are certainly not any form of Trotskyist

  4. I am ex-IMG I think I would have known….

    There is, in any case, a distinction between former members of groups, and entryists.

    People tried to make out the French PM Lionel Jospin was still a trotskyist ‘submarine’ because he was originally part of the Lambertist Organisation Communiste Internationaliste, (OCI) back in the mists of time.

    Jean-Christophe Cambadélis the present General Secretary of the Parti Socialiste has hardly made a secret of his late 1970s early 1980s past of the Lambertists’ later incarnation, the Parti communiste internationaliste.

    I should point out that I these people may have retained some influence from this past, though in these two cases it is very very hard to trace except perhaps in Cambadélis’ manipulative style.

    If McDonnell had a similar background we would be aware of it, and there would be people writing about it at length.

    But, as you say, for once correctly, it is his present politics which are relevant and they are not Trotskyist.

    Andrew Coates

    March 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm

  5. Wasn’t he editor of Labour Herald which was basically a WRP entrist project? I’m surprised more isn’t made of that.

    Rob M

    March 13, 2016 at 3:54 pm

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