Woodhouse College
Alica Derome Rebecca Saul

Mr McDonnell comes to Woodhouse

Dated: 14 May 2018

 
 
Last month, ahead of the local council elections, Woodhouse politics students welcomed British Labour politician and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell MP.
 
 
 
Mr McDonnell spoke to a packed conference room of over 80 students who were joined by councillors from our local ward, along with the leader of the local Labour group. He talked for around 30 minutes about various aspects of Labour policy, particularly those that are relevant to young people. The talk was then opened up for questions from the floor, ably chaired by politics student Sidhivi Sharma.
 
 
Student Sidhivi presides over the Q & A session  
 
Mr Patel (Head of Politics at Woodhouse) said…
 
“Mr McDonnell gave students a rare insight into the thinking and strategies of the new left leaning Labour leadership. He expressed his view that Labour was making ground in electoral and support terms and argued for UK’s continued close relationship with the EU. When challenged on his party's position on the EU coming across as somewhat inconsistent, he candidly spoke of the tightrope his party has to walk, between Labour voters that support the union and those that want to leave (around 1/3).
 
He responded to a number of questions on tuitions fees and the economy and at one point suggested the generational tide of public opinion is on his side. Younger voters were more likely to vote Labour because they were more likely to support fairness and feel their prospects for the future are uncertain.”
 
Politics student Kai Kelly had mixed views on the MP’s policies…
 
"John McDonnell gave an interesting talk about his view on the way the country is currently being run, and how Labour offer the solutions to some of the economic and social inequalities that currently exist in the UK. Whilst it was refreshing to hear some radical ideas coming from a member of one of the UK's two main political parties, being the cynic that I am I felt unconvinced by some of the costings in the manifesto as well as McDonnell's response to the allegations of antisemitism in his party. As interesting as the talk was I'm now convinced that Labour has little to offer anyone over the age of 30, and I think this will consign Labour to electoral oblivion."
 
Sidhivi Sharma took more positives from the talk…
 
“It was very nice to hear about Labour party's goals from a central figure, Mr McDonnell's optimism reverberated with my own hopefulness regarding politics. The emphasis on the opinions and lives of young people, such as free travel for young adults, matching the emphasis put on the elderly showed that new voters, like me, can also have a say in politics now and in fact should as the inheriters of the world.”
 
Mr McDonnell faced some quite tough questioning from the students and by no means got an easy ride, but he answered them all honestly and directly and by the end appeared to have won most of them over. True to his word, he also sent a critical politics student his ‘grey book’ of costed economic pledges after the event.
 
The college thanks him and his team for taking the time to visit us and give our students some insight into the reality of politics today.
 
 


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