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Mis-Communicator of the Week: John McDonnell

You know that annoying situation in bad films when a baddie is looking for something valuable while holding another character against their own free will? Inevitably, as the baddie becomes frustrated with being unable to find the lost treasure, the hapless heroine (I’m sorry but in these bad films it is nearly always a woman in this situation) will suddenly stare with intensity at the cupboard/drawer/secret hiding place and so give the baddie what they were looking for. 

Something subliminal seems to make the character act against her better judgement and reveals the hiding place which is then followed by protestations of innocence that they “just couldn’t help it”. 

I can only imagine that’s the kind of phrase that is falling out of the mouth of this week’s award winner after they built a set-piece parliamentary occasion around one of their greatest weaknesses.  

Responding to George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell was heard to say "Let’s quote from Mao” to the disbelief of everyone watching and listening in the House of Commons and at home. 

This was a bad idea because Mao Zedong, a hero to some on the political hard left, was also the architect of a reign of terror and mis-governance of his country and people that cost the lives of an estimated 40-70 million. His crimes against humanity were as severe as his economic thinking was wrong. 

McDonnell though has history of things like this. His views on a variety of issues are extreme and he is seen as an anti-capitalist left winger who is a liability. If the Labour Party is ever to be seen to be electable again John McDonnell needs to shed his outdated economic views and start to find common ground with the middle class families of this country. It was supposed to be a joke at George Osborne’s expense but standing up in the House of Commons reading from Mao’s Communist Little Red Book did nothing but reiterate the view people already held about McDonnell. 

When people have a negative preconception of you, one rule of reputation management is never to reinforce that view. John McDonnel badly failed on that this week which is why he is my Mis-Communicator of the Week. 

Communicator of the Week is written by Ed Staite.

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