John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has been accused of an "embarrassing U-turn" after the Labour party decided to oppose a key economic policy just weeks after announcing they would support it.

The announcement of the U-turn on the "fiscal charter" - tying the government to running a budget surplus - also prompted a furious reaction from some of the party's politicians at a meeting on Tuesday night, with one even calling it "a f---ing shambles".

Following the government won the Commons vote on Wednesday evening, in which 20 Labour MPs opposed the party's whips, George Osborne, the chancellor, was quick to jump in with criticism of his Labour opponent, telling the assorted MPs:

We were told he would be a divisive figure. I just didn't realise the split would be between two opposing views he held himself.

To call the whole episode a shambles is like saying the Charge of the Light Brigade didn't achieve all of its objectives.


The position adopted by Labour on this measure sends the wrong message to the general public.

The people who suffer most when governments lose control of the public finances are precisely the most vulnerable.

But looking back five years, it appears that McDonnell might not be the only one who's made an "embarrassing U-turn".

John McDonnell, shadow chancellor (Picture: Getty)

Here's Osborne talking about the "fiscal charter" in January 2010 when he was the shadow chancellor:

Fiscal responsibility acts are instruments of the fiscally irresponsible to con the public.

Of course, we have to debate this vacuous and irrelevant legislation, but it begs the question: why did the chancellor feel the compelling need to introduce it?

There are only two explanations: either he doesn't trust himself to secure sound public finances, or he knows the public doesn't trust him to secure them.


As John McDonnell himself noted in the Commons on Wednesday:

A bit of humility amongst politicians never goes amiss.


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