Shadow chancellor apologises for 2003 speech

John McDonnell

DURING an edition of BBC Question Time, John McDonnell the newly appointed Shadow Chancellor made a number of apologies with regards to speeches and statements he had made earlier in his career.

In 2003 he told attendees at a meeting to commemorate IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands; ‘It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle.

‘It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table.’

In the programme broadcast on September 17 of this year he said the comments had clearly caused offence and apologised ‘from the bottom of my heart.’

Challenged on a remark made by him in 2010 when he said that if he could go back in time he would ‘assassinate Thatcher,’ he responded ‘It was an appalling joke. It’s ended my career in stand-up, let’s put it that way, and I apologise for it as well.’

Some politicians from Ulster welcomed the apology but were not certain of his motives as both he and leader Jeremy Corbyn have had their past ‘firebrand’ careers in politics highlighted by the media.

Also on Question Time, Mr McDonnell was asked about Labour’s policy plans after apparent differences between Mr Corbyn and some of his shadow cabinet.

He confirmed Labour had no plans to exit NATO but did back a return to the 50p income tax rate.

‘On income tax, it’s an issue for us, the Tories reduced it from 50p to 45p and we’d just like to go back to 50p. We think that’s reasonable but that will be a debate within the Labour Party and we will come back with our concrete proposals on that,’ he said.

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