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Webchat with John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor, Tuesday 18 September at 11am

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JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 17-Sep-18 10:24:32

We’re very pleased to announce a webchat with the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, this Tuesday 18 September at 11am.

John has been Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington since 1997. Born in Liverpool, he studied at night school while working before going to university. He went on to work as a union official and in local government at the GLC and at Camden Council. He campaigned for Jeremy Corbyn to win the Labour leadership in 2015 and has been Shadow Chancellor since then.

He describes his vision for the UK economy as ‘socialism with an iPad’, centred around research, investment and ‘alternative forms of ownership and control’ such as nationalisation, co-operatives, and locally-owned enterprises. He has proved a controversial figure in some quarters, with particular attention paid to his 2003 remarks about the IRA, for which he apologised. He has described Labour’s anti-semitism row as a low point, and has been quoted as saying ‘we have got to sort this out’.

Please do join the chat on Tuesday at 11am, or if you can’t make it, leave a question here in advance.

We’re expecting this to be a busy webchat, so only existing Mumsnet users are able to post on this thread. Apologies to anyone new who can’t post - please stick around, we’ve got lots of other things coming up grin

As always, please remember our webchat guidelines - one question per user, follow-ups only if there’s time and most questions have been answered and please keep it civil. Also if one topic is overwhelmingly dominating a discussion with a guest, mods might request that people don't continue to post what's effectively the same question or point. Rest assured we will ALWAYS let the guest know that it's an area of concern to multiple users and will encourage them to engage with those questions.

Many thanks.

Pagwatch Tue 18-Sep-18 11:46:30


ToeToToe Tue 18-Sep-18 11:46:31

Hi John, hanks for coming on Mumsnet.

Just to follow up on frozenwarning's question, are you aware that male Labour counsellors have called women Labour party members "c*nts" on social media?

Does the Labour Party think that this is an acceptable way for elected officials to address their women members?

Complaints have been made, but ignored.

JohnMcDonnell Tue 18-Sep-18 11:46:47


To be fair I've already asked a question above but a large proportion of Radio 4's PM show was all about the appalling treatment of sexual harassment claims within the Labour Party, with the independent report not yet being actioned.

Considering Labour's really shitty record with women (Not least never having a female Leader) what do you have to say to Bex Bailey?

Can you actually understand the great personal toll she's had to undergo to actually feel like she's being heard and that women are being protected? Can you reassure that real positive action will be taken, without the platitudes?

I think Bex has been incredibly courageous. The way in which she has come forward to expose how she was attacked and raped in 2011 has displayed not just bravery but also a heroic commitment to improving the lives of women everywhere. Karen Monahan QC has undertaken a detailed review of the way in which The Labour Party deals with sexual abuse and has come forward with a whole range of recommendations to improve existing procedures. I am told that many of the recommendations have now been implemented. The Labour Party NEC is meeting as we speak to discuss rule changes based upon Karen Monahan's report, which I understand will implement what Bex has recommended herself.

On our record, with regard to women's representation, The Labour Party has more women representatives than any of the other 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. I think there are other things that could be done. For example, a number of women approached me some years ago about having job sharing for MPs. I promoted a bill in parliament which many derided, but I believe it could be of benefit in supporting a much more representative House of Commons.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 18-Sep-18 11:48:25

We are continuing with all-women shortlists for selections - as the first party to do so - because this has been very successful

Can you just clarify what you mean by "women" here?

JohnMcDonnell Tue 18-Sep-18 11:49:06


My question is:
Under previous leaders, Mr Corbyn and yourself were able to stay in the Labour party and have your views heard even if they were not compatible with the more left/centre thinking of the time.

Do you support MPs being deselected?

Do you understand that deselections, along with Momentum, might be worrisome for left/centre people like me?

My view is that as a democratic party, we have procedures for selecting our candidates for parliament which are pretty effective. We also have a procedure called the trigger ballot where by if local party members want to have a full re-selection process they can vote for it. I think that process works pretty well. There are some elements that could be reformed to make it more representative, but i'd like to stick with that system. Some party members are campaigning for whats called mandatory re-selection. I think there is support for maintaining the trigger system with a bit of reform, I think that is the right balance. So it's not about de-selections it's about making sure we have a effective democratic process for choosing our candidates and for local party members to express a view.

Datun Tue 18-Sep-18 11:49:06

We are continuing with all-women shortlists for selections - as the first party to do so - because this has been very successful.

Jeremy Corbyn has said that if a man says he's a woman, that counts.

JohnMcDonnell Tue 18-Sep-18 11:49:33


Hello John

What were the exact words that came out of your mouth when you saw the exit poll results last June?

I was too busy trying to reassure the Conservative spokesman sitting beside me who, at one point, turned so pale that I thought we might need paramedics.

Motheroffourdragons Tue 18-Sep-18 11:49:38

Thank you for answering my question.

Unfortunately, I can't see that voting any brexit deal down will bring about the desired general election due to the FTPA, and believe that extreme right of the Tory party see this as their route to get their desired outcome - no deal.

TiredClara Tue 18-Sep-18 11:50:29

Was that a promise to meet with gender critical feminists? Is that a promise we can believe after Corbyn promising the same thing and then never meeting them?

JohnMcDonnell Tue 18-Sep-18 11:52:04


Hi John.

One of the things that really pisses me off about the state of the Labour Party at the moment is how many people within it are slagging off the 1997-2010 Labour Govt. Of course, it got many things wrong - but its achievements were astounding.

So I'd like to know - which achievement of that Labour Government are you most proud and why? And what more can you do to make sure people in the Party aren't talking down those achievements?

Two things especially:
Surestart centres were a brilliant initiative. I chaired my local early years partnership which rolled out the local Surestart centres and started to transform the life chances of local children and families. Tragically two of the local children centres have been closed by the Tories.
Secondly I will always praise Tony Blair for his role in bringing about peace in Ireland. My view the tragedy for him personally is that he could have gone down in history for this amazing achievement but will most probably be remembered for the disaster of Iraq.

JohnMcDonnell Tue 18-Sep-18 11:52:35


Yes I would like to know which women’s groups you have consulted with regarding self-ID.

Will you meet with Women’s Place?

I have met with some of the women from Women's Place and will be doing so again. I was also approached a number of women party members from constituencies in the south east and I am meeting them in October.

JohnMcDonnell Tue 18-Sep-18 11:53:51


Just a reminder on some stats:

transgender comprise 0.6-1% of population,
women make up 51% of population

So why are women's rights considered less important and available to be negotiated away by got it - men?

Why are women finding they are disenfranchised from Labour policies?

Women's rights are not considered less important. I believe that all views must be taken into account and I am convinced that we can build consensus around this. That is my hope.

HappilyHarridan Tue 18-Sep-18 11:54:34

Hi John,

Thanks for answering our questions. Mine is, are you aware that local activists at CLP level are routinely ignored by Regional/National Labour when they ask for advice and assistance? It is incredibly demoralising.


poshme Tue 18-Sep-18 11:55:07

If parliament was 50% male and 50% people who had transitioned from male to become female, do you think that would be representing women more fairly?

gendercritter Tue 18-Sep-18 11:55:47

We are continuing with all-women shortlists for selections - as the first party to do so - because this has been very successful

Please can you confirm how the Labour party defines women?

I am not alone in being absolutely appalled that men have been counted as women recently for the sake of your all-women shortlists. I feel so betrayed I can't vote Labour until this is rectified. There are many thousands of other women who feel similarly.

Do you understand the strength of feeling on this issue?

JohnMcDonnell Tue 18-Sep-18 11:56:14


Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t seem very visible at the minute (outside of PMQs). You seem to be everywhere (even on Mumsnet, which has featured Party Leaders and Leaders in waiting in the past). Why is Jeremy suddenly so quiet?

Jeremy has been touring around the country holding meeting after meeting, all of which have been absolute packed. He is working incredibly hard to get our message across but also to fully engage people in the development of our ideas and policies. That sort of hard routine work may not hit the headlines but is absolutely crucial if we are going to develop our ideas in a way in which they are rooted in people's experiences. Jeremy's emphasis to all the shadow cabinet and all our team is that we are a team and he is deliberately pushing members of the team to the front in the media rather than just being the sole spokesperson for our party. So that has always been his style and I think it's the right one.

Pagwatch Tue 18-Sep-18 11:56:47

The Good Friday agreement was an astonishing achievement and yet here we are with the Brexit thing again...,

OrdinarySnowflake Tue 18-Sep-18 11:57:34

Why do you need to respect the public's choice on Brexit when you know it'll fuck over the poorest members of our society?

If you can't fight for the poor, what's the point in voting Labour?

The public voted for Brexit. They also voted for a May lead Tory government last year. I don't see you just going round saying you must accept that decision and give up on Socialist ideas, as the public have spoken...

You are the opposition, it's ok to oppose things that will leave the British public worse off, even if they voted for it.

JohnMcDonnell Tue 18-Sep-18 11:58:03



Why do we have to respect a referendum that was advisory and broke electoral rules!????

Whatever the allegations, the reality is that those of us who campaign for remain lost. Much as I don't like the result, I do feel that we have to respect it. One of my big worries is about how our country is divided at the moment. I don't want to give UKIP or some of the elements even further to the right any excuse to regain the ground that they have lost over the last year. That's why I am anxious about another referendum and would much prefer a general election. But as I say, we'll keep all options on the table.

Buscake Tue 18-Sep-18 11:58:55

What can labour promise to do to improve the lives of children with SEND and their carers? I have one daughter with ASD in a mainstream school with an ehcp and one son hopefully going to a special school with an ehcp. My life is one long battle to get their needs met - it means I cannot work. I have an undergraduate degree and a postgrad and I live off carers allowance of £64 a week. This does not increase even though I am caring for two family members. Has labour seen the affect situations like this have on carers? And carers for family members are almost always women. We feel forgotten, marginalised and isolated while also dealing with complexities for our loved ones. Surely more can be done?

DuckingGoodPJs Tue 18-Sep-18 11:59:32

Define the purpose of women only short lists. How does 'self-ID' undermine/enhance the primary purpose of these WOSLs?

If anyone can 'self-ID' as a woman, isn't the entire exercise a bit pointless?

JohnMcDonnell Tue 18-Sep-18 11:59:50


Hi John - When Corbyn was getting reelected as leader in 2016 you said that a vote for him would mean that your vision of an neurodiversity minister would become a thing... what happened to that? Is it going to come back or...?

We published a neurodiversity manifesto at last years Labour Party conference. It was drafted by a group that I convened. We will be holding a meeting at this years conference to report back on progress in the development of the detail of these policies and to plan where we go from here. There has been some tremendous work done by the various groups and individuals involved. I will try harder to try and get wider publicity for this because it does such credit to the hard-work of the people participating.

Pagwatch Tue 18-Sep-18 11:59:59

Yes I know Ive used more than my allocation but really - just one single example of how Brexit with help the poor, the disabled or the vulnerable . Just one

JohnMcDonnell Tue 18-Sep-18 12:00:04


Hello John

Our campaign for Better Postnatal Care has helped to expose just how underfunded postnatal care is in the NHS, and how badly some new mothers are being let down - often with long-term effects for their physical and mental health.

Postnatal care comprises just 8% of a woman’s maternity care budget. We don’t want the other elements cut, but postnatal care needs more focus and more resources (as loads of maternity clinicians will tell you) to ensure women don't experience trauma, pain and degrading lifelong symptoms, with all the attendant consequences for their mental health and wellbeing.

We're working with NHS England, and we've got a list of actions to ensure women get prompt, compassionate and effective care from birth onwards, including the offer of physio to every postnatal woman, prompts to GPs to ask relevant questions at appointments, and a plan of care for every mother leaving hospital after a difficult birth.

We'd love to work with Labour on this. Would you consider it?


Hazardswan Tue 18-Sep-18 12:00:08

Hi John

I'm concerned that labour will vote no to any deal, it seems your forcing a no deal which as i described earlier will harm disabled and/or sick people and lead to avoidable deaths.

Has labour factored in the 1 in 5 brits with a disability at all in the decision making?

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