Cometh the hour, cometh John McDonnell, the man with a plan | John Crace

The shadow chancellor was like a news anchor reading a list of casualties as he rattled off the catastrophes of austerity

Not so long ago, no one felt obliged to take much notice of a pre-budget speech from John McDonnell. The Labour shadow chancellor was free to suggest almost anything he wanted – nationalisation of the Isle of Man, an SAS assault on Bermuda – and no one would bat an eye because there didn’t seem to be a chance of him ever getting the top job. It was just John being John. But with the Tories behaving like a series of accidents that either have already happened or are waiting to happen, the ante has been considerably upped.

This time round, the hall in Church House was packed and the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rebecca Long-Bailey, was quick to point out the significance in her introduction. “I give you the next chancellor of the exchequer,” she said.

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