Articles by John McTernan
John McTernan is former chief of staff to the leader of the Scottish Labour party. He is former political secretary at 10 Downing Street and was director of communications for former prime minister of Australia Julia Gillard. He tweets @johnmcternan

The constitutional talking shop

John McTernan  |  10 November 2016

What is it about Labour and the constitution?  After a series of electoral setbacks, there always comes the demand for constitutional reforms. The Labour party has suffered shattering defeats over the last six years – two general elections, two Scottish elections, the Brexit referendum and, most damaging of all, two elections of Jeremy Corbyn as leader. …

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How to win the peace

John McTernan and Miranda Green  |  9 June 2016

If ‘Remain’ succeeds this month, the winners must define the victory. John McTernan and Miranda Green each give their take on how Photo

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King for a day, schmuck for a lifetime

John McTernan  |  12 December 2014

I have said it before, and no doubt I will say it again – George Osborne is too clever by half. And not in a good way. Every time he acts there is an overt political agenda, which is not in itself a bad thing. But there is usually also a hidden agenda or an …

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Hope dies last

John McTernan  |  5 December 2014

Studs Terkel, the legendary Chicago journalist, was one of the world’s great interviewers. He specialised in oral history, capturing not just the voices and experiences of ordinary people but the eloquence of their speech and, often, the dignity and beauty of their lives. Every one of his books is worth reading, but late in his …

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Three cheers for the Police Federation

John McTernan  |  28 November 2014

When the Sun splashed on Plebgate there was a strange moment of unity on left and right – both agreed that the filth were fitting Andrew Mitchell up. The former because it confirmed all their anti-police prejudice, the latter because they would always believe one of their peers over the account of – well – …

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If voters want cruelty they are spoilt for choice

John McTernan  |  21 November 2014

Don’t know about you, but I’m worried. It looks as though we are in danger of breaking Katwala’s Law. Roadtested at party conferences this year, this is the Sunder Katwala’s brilliant observation that – when it comes to immigration – ‘make promises you can keep’. Look, I can buy the idea that you can charge …

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Follow the money to Fifa

John McTernan  |  14 November 2014

If anyone wanted any further evidence about what a dodgy organisation FIFA is then the enquiry by Michael Garcia surely supplies it. The FA cooperates with it and gets slammed for its pains. The Russian FA stonewalls and gets no criticism. Meanwhile, we are none the wiser as to why the bidding process was foreshortened …

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Six months till the general election

John McTernan  |  7 November 2014

During conference season I chaired a series of fringe meetings held by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy at each of the main party conferences. The topic was how best to achieve regional growth by removing the dead hand of the state. Each meeting provoked a revealing debate. The Labour debate was about …

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Murphy is essential to a Miliband majority

John McTernan  |  30 October 2014

Sir Walter Scott asked: ‘Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,/ ‘Who never to himself hath said’, / ‘This is my own, my native land! / ‘Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,/ ‘As home his footsteps he hath turned,/ ‘From wandering on a foreign strand!’ Now we know Jim Murphy’s answer. He has …

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Gough Whitlam, big ideas and a plan to execute them

John McTernan  |  24 October 2014

Gough Whitlam died this week. In Britain he was probably known for the fact that his Labor government was outrageously dismissed by Governor-General John Kerr. Gough’s line on this is one of the most famous in Australian political history – ‘Well may we say God Save The Queen, because nothing will save the Governor-General.’ And …

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