John McDonnell seems to be coming out of the Google tax furore rather well. As the story has rumbled on in the news over the week, the Shadow Chancellor’s measured interventions have added to George Osborne’s discomfort.
Today, he has written to the European Commission, asking for the nature of the deal to be looked into, and raising some interesting points about EU competition law. His article for The Times Red Box is astute too, painting Osborne as a lone figure, even in his own party, trumpeting a success everyone else has written off as failure.
There is a profile of McDonnell in the Financial Times this morning, that presents him as a privately conciliatory and moderating force within the Labour leadership. It’s fascinating, because he’s a character that splits opinion fairly firmly. Many studies of current Labour kremlinology depict him as a hard left, uncompromising bruiser (and some media appearances sure give that weight), while others say that he is a calming influence behind closing doors, pushing for a more conciliatory and broad church approach to internal party politics.
Which is right? Different sources say different things, but I’m more often given the impression of John the Peacemaker.
It reminds me of having a drink with a Blairite former MP just hours after Corbyn’s victory last September. To my surprise, they told me what a good choice McDonnell would be for Shadow Chancellor. I’d always known him as the mace-waving, Thatcher-assassination joker, but was told he was very easy to get on with, and liked a lot more widely than people think.
When will we find out who the enigmatic Shadow Chancellor really is?
Conor Pope – LabourList, 29th January 2016