McDonnell in brutal swipe at Starmer ‘no good being Beatles if you haven’t got good songs’

McDonnell discusses Starmer’s plan for Labour in September

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John McDonnell dismantled Sir Keir Starmer’s hope that his shadow Cabinet reshuffle will help turn the tide as more articulate MPs take on a leading role on the front bench. The former shadow Chancellor insisted Labour Party’s lack of attractive policies remains the key issue for the party which lost four consecutive elections to the Conservatives in the past 10 years. Speaking to Times Radio, Mr McDonnel said: “You’ve got to have a message.

“It’s no good being a good entertainer, it’s no good being the Beatles if you haven’t got good enough songs. It’s like that.

“It is about policies and all the rest of it.

“No matter how articulate you are, if you’ve got nothing to say, or nothing that people really get attracted to, it doesn’t work, I’m afraid.”

Sir Keir has seen his leadership come under pressure on several occasions since he took over from Jeremy Corbyn in April 2020.

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During the pandemic, Labour has been repeatedly accused of failing to stand up to the Government, acquiescing to most decisions or openly agreeing to the Cabinet’s position.

Even on Sunday, the party once again faced accusations of failing to present a viable alternative to the Government’s stance on the Omicron variant of Covid.

Sky News presenter Trevor Phillips questioned shadow Environment Secretary Jim McMahon on what Labour would have done differently to respond to the threat of a new wave of the virus.

Mr Phillips pointed out the party’s policy on not banning Christmas parties eerily similar to the Government’s as he accused the Labour MP of sounding “exactly the same as a Government minister.”

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Mr Phillips said: “What you’ve told me is that you’ll back the steps the Government has taken.

“You would not do more than they said they would do on Christmas parties, you would not introduce vaccine passports.

“You’re basically telling me exactly the same as a Government minister would tell me, which is let’s be cautious, let’s have common sense.

“I’m not entirely clear about your own messaging and plan.”


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Mr McMahon insisted he wanted the variant to undermine all efforts so far to contain the coronavirus as he insisted a step back in the battle against the virus would be “the worst thing in the world”.

Britain’s health security agency on Sunday reported 86 new cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, taking the total number identified so far to 246.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, who is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) which advises the Government, said the measures would not make a “material difference” as the variant is already “spreading pretty rapidly”.

He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: “I think that may be a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

“If Omicron is here in the UK, and it certainly is, if there’s community transmission in the UK, and it certainly looks that way, then it’s that community transmission that will drive a next wave.

“The cases that are being imported are important, we want to detect those and isolate any positive cases we find, as we would for any case anywhere.

“But I think it’s too late to make a material difference to the course of the Omicron wave, if we’re going to have one.”

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