Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said praised Labour’s Keir Starmer’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as being ‘exactly right’.
McDonnell said the Labour leader had approached the government in a ‘constructive way’ during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the government had adopted several policies put forward by Labour in order to tackle the crisis as a result.
Speaking to John Pienaar on Times Radio, McDonnell said: ‘Keir’s got this exactly right.
‘He’s approached the government in a constructive way – and we’ve got to get through this crisis together – but he can’t help but point out failure after failure. And people are getting pretty angry.
‘He’s taking this government on. What’s interesting is the government itself has had to adopt many of the policies – not just the ones we advocated for in the last general election, the investment etcetera – but also the policies that we put to them in March to cope with this Covid crisis.
‘The furlough scheme was our proposal, the support for small businesses, the self-employed – our proposals. I think he’s gaining the benefit of that.
‘Of course with a new leader, the media will give you a much wider leeway to a large extent and of course he’s exploiting that, good for him.’
McDonnell also said that Sir Keir does believe in genuine left-wing principles.
He said: ‘Keir has made it clear he’s a socialist. His expressions in the past and throughout – of course he’s a socialist.’
The Labour MP added: ‘Sometimes I’ll want the party to be a bit more vociferous on some of these things but it’s a matter of style.
‘As long as we get the point across.’
McDonnell is one of the first to heap praise on the new Labour leader from the Left of the party which has been hostile towards Sir Keir.
Earlier this week, former party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Boris Johnson ‘didn’t want to introduce the furlough scheme’ in a meeting between the two shortly after the coronavirus outbreak.
He also said he was briefed on herd immunity by government officials in the early days of the pandemic.