Many progressive people have been dismayed by Brexit, the bizarre popularity of Theresa May and the surprising election of Donald Trump. 2016 has been felt by some to be a year of unmitigated disasters. The British left has often seemed split. But Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was replete with optimism this morning in the city of his birth.
The veteran socialist is of the opinion that neo-liberal hegemony is collapsing. He senses that the public are frustrated with business as usual. Recognising the poverty and profound inequality in the UK, he believes that an early election might not be as calamitous for the Labour Party as its enemies assume.
The analysis of McDonnell is apparently based on the thinking of Gramsci and others. He has noticed that opinion polls are often a poor guide to electoral behaviour. Further, he assumes that the disunity in the Labour Party may be matched by tensions within the Conservative Party because of the complex European issue. Clearly, the populist Shadow Chancellor is in no mood to succumb to negativity. Nevertheless, the superb campaigner could reflect on the maxim of Gramsci:
“Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.”