John Martin McDonnell (born 8 September 1951) was appointed the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in September 2015. He became the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hayes and Harlington at the 1997 general election, and has retained his seat from then onwards.
He has served as Chair of the Socialist Campaign Group in Parliament and the Labour Representation Committee, and was the chair of the Public Services Not Private Profit Group. He is also Parliamentary Convenor of the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group of eight left-wing trade unions representing over half a million workers. McDonnell attempted to stand for the position of Labour Party leader following Tony Blair's resignation in 2007, but was unable to gain sufficient nominations. He was a candidate for party leadership again in 2010 following Gordon Brown's resignation after Labour's electoral defeat, but withdrew in favour of Diane Abbott, feeling that he would be unable to secure enough nominations.
Following Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader in 2015, he appointed McDonnell as his Shadow Chancellor. Alongside Corbyn, McDonnell has been seen as a key figure on the left-wing of the party. As Shadow Chancellor, McDonnell pledged to increase spending on infrastructure and research, describing his vision for the economy as "socialism with an iPad".
Greater London Council (1981–1986)
In 1981, McDonnell was elected to the Greater London Council (GLC) as the member for Hayes and Harlington. He became the GLC's Chair of Finance and was Ken Livingstone's deputy leader. In an interview with Ronan Bennett for The Guardian newspaper, he described his role during this time as being "to translate policies into concrete realities on the ground". He further discussed his performance by indicating, "I was a fairly hard-nosed administrator. We set in train policies for which we were attacked from all sides but are now accepted as mainstream: large-scale investment in public services; raising the issue of Ireland and arguing for a dialogue for peace; equal opportunities; police accountability. We set up a women's committee, an ethnic minorities committee".
Livingstone removed McDonnell from the post of deputy leader in 1985, shortly after they came into conflict over the GLC's budget. Margaret Thatcher's government cut central government funding to local government, and then introduced rate capping, preventing selected councils from raising local taxation beyond a set level as a means of reducing public spending. Encouraged by the success of the Liverpool City Council, which delayed issuing a budget in 1984 until the government agreed to restore some funding cuts, twelve Labour-controlled councils that had the cap imposed on them chose not to set a rate at all in the spring of 1985, demanding that the government lift the cap. The GLC faced capping, and McDonnell headed a campaign among Labour members to adopt this strategy in response. Unlike the local councils, however, the GLC faced a legal obligation to set a rate by mid-March. McDonnell contended that accepting the cap would lead to a reduction in spending and prevent the GLC, which had already lost all of its funding from central government, from honouring the manifesto pledges Labour had been elected to fulfil in 1981.
Post GLC (1987–1997)
Following the abolition of the GLC, McDonnell was employed as head of the policy unit at Camden London Borough Council. In 1987, he became Chief Executive of the Association of London Authorities (eventually the Association of London Government), where he represented all the London Boroughs in their relations with central government and Europe. Having previously unsuccessfully contested Hampstead and Highgate in 1983, McDonnell fought for his home constituency of Hayes and Harlington at the 1992 general election, but was narrowly defeated by the Conservative incumbent Terry Dicks, by a mere 53 votes.
Member of Parliament (1997–present)
McDonnell became the MP for Hayes and Harlington at the 1997 general election]], with a majority of 13,000. He made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 6 June 1997. He has been involved in several local community campaigns, including one opposing the expansion of Heathrow Airport and its impact on local communities. He opposed policies of the Iraq War, foundation hospitals, student top-up fees, trust schools and anti-terror laws.
Groups and campaigns in Parliament
McDonnell is a leading member of a number of all-party groups within Parliament, including groups representing individual trade unions, such as the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and justice unions such as NAPO. He is also a leading member of groups on a wide range of issues such as Britain's Irish community, the Punjabi community, endometriosis, and Kenya. McDonnell is a member of the Labour Land Campaign, which advocates introducing a land value tax.>
McDonnell chairs the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), a left-wing group of Labour activists, local parties, trade unions and MPs that campaigns for the adoption of a raft of socialist policies by the Labour Government. The group was founded on Saturday, 3 July 2004, and currently has more than 800 members and 90 affiliates. He also chairs the Public Services Not Private Profit, an anti-privatisation campaign that brings together sixteen trade unions and several campaigning organisations, such as the World Development Movement, Defend Council Housing and the National Pensioners Convention.
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (2015–present)
McDonnell was one of the thirty-six Labour MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn (who was elected as Labour leader with 59.5% of the vote) as a candidate in the Labour leadership election of 2015. McDonnell managed Corbyn's leadership campaign, and he was appointed Shadow Chancellor in September 2015.
McDonnell has explored ideas surrounding "alternative models of ownership", publishing a report on the subject in June 2017 and hosting a discussion conference in London in February 2018. The report sets out the "practicality and necessity of a shift to a variety of alternative forms of ownership and control of productive enterprises, including co-operatives, municipal and locally-led ownership forms, and...new democratic forms of national ownership".
On 29 September 2016, he was appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.