Over 100 people gathered at the Mechanics Institute in Manchester on Thursday of last week for the launch of John McDonnell’s campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party.
He was joined on a platform by Tony Benn, Jeremy Dear from the NUJ union, former MP Alice Mahon and local Labour activist and NUJ official Jenny Lennox.
A mix of Labour Party members, trade unionists, peace activists, students, Respect members and others heard Tony Benn spell out Tony Blair’s record of warmongering and privatisation.
In contrast, he said, John McDonnell’s pledges were for peace and social justice, a restoration of the earnings link for pensioners and the abolition of student fees.
McDonnell, whose campaign slogan is “another world is possible”, said, “I didn’t work hard for 18 years to get a Labour government that would privatise more jobs in nine years than the Tories did in 20. We need principles, not personalities.”
Many at the meeting voiced their hopes in the anti-war movement. Manchester university student union president Rob Owen spoke of the need to march together and the generation of students being drawn into politics.
Challenge at the TUC
John McDonnell spoke at the TUC conference in Brighton this week about his challenge for the Labour Party leadership.
“I’ve told Tony Blair that I don’t want a smooth transition of power from Blair to Brown. I want a contest so we can have a debate about where the party goes,” he said.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said, “There is only one candidate that puts peace and public services at the top of his agenda I am proud to back John McDonnell’s campaign for leader of the Labour Party.”
For more information on the McDonnell campaign go to www.john4leader.org.uk