Blogosphere campaign to kick-start John McDonnell’s nomination

“The party needs a strong left-wing voice and John is the obvious candidate.”

As Ed Balls prepares to announce his intention to stand in the forthcoming Labour leadership election, Sunny Hundal is doing his bit to widen the field of would-be Labour leaders still further by encouraging MPs to sign John McDonnell's nomination papers.

Nominations close a week tomorrow and any candidate that wants to enter the race needs at least 33 signatories.

McDonnell has already complained that the brief nomination period disadvantages less established candidates while benefiting well-known faces such as the former foreign secretary David Miliband. "I think it undermines the democratic process from the outset," he told the BBC News Channel.

The blogosphere might now be McDonnell's salvation. Writing on his Liberal Conspiracy blog today, Hundal says he is convinced the "party needs a strong left-wing voice and John is the obvious candidate".

Hundal lists the MPs who backed McDonnell in May 2007 prior to Tony Blair's departure. (In the end, Gordon Brown was spared a leadership contest three years ago.) He also lists other members of the Socialist Campaign Group who didn't nominate him last time around, and encourages readers to "pick one or two names, find out their office numbers, call them and politely ask whether they would be nominating John McDonnell and why it's important that they do".


These nominated him last time

1. Diane Abbott MP, Hackney North and Stoke Newington
2. Ronnie Campbell MP, Blyth Valley
3. Martin Caton MP, Gower
4. Michael Clapham MP, Barnsley West and Penistone
5. Katy Clark MP, North Ayrshire and Arran
6. Harry Cohen MP, Leyton and Wanstead
7. Frank Cook MP, Stockton North
8. Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
9. Jim Cousins MP, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central
10. Ann Cryer MP, Keighley
11. David Drew MP, Stroud
12. Bill Etherington MP, Sunderland North
13. Mark Fisher MP, Stoke-on-Trent Central
14. Paul Flynn MP, Newport West
15. Neil Gerrard MP, Walthamstow
16. Dr Ian Gibson MP, Norwich North
17. Nia Griffith MP, Llanelli
18. David Heyes MP, Ashton-under-Lyne
19. Kelvin Hopkins MP, Luton North
20. Lynne Jones MP, Birmingham, Selly Oak
21. Michael Meacher MP, Oldham West and Royton -- stepped down
22. Gordon Prentice MP, Pendle
23. Linda Riordan MP, Halifax -- has endorsed Ed Miliband
24. Alan Simpson MP, Nottingham South
25. Dennis Skinner MP, Bolsover
26. David Taylor MP, North West Leicestershire
27. Robert Wareing MP, Liverpool, West Derby
28. Mike Wood MP, Batley and Spen

Other members of the Socialist Campaign Group who didn't nominate him

29. David Anderson MP
30. John Cryer MP
31. David Hamilton MP -- has endorsed Ed Miliband
32. Kelvin Hopkins MP
33. Ian Lavery MP
34. Austin Mitchell MP

Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.