Jeremy Corbyn’s elevation of John McDonnell to shadow chancellor suggests that he is embarking on a path of electoral ruin.
Mr Corbyn cannot move too far to the centre without alienating the hundreds of thousands of people who secured him the Labour leadership.
But the appointment of Mr McDonnell to the most important Opposition post after party leader suggests that he does not intend to move to the centre at all.
Mr McDonnell is a classic tax and spend left winger who wants to empower the unions – the combination of policies that a Labour government implemented in the 1970s to push Britain to the financial brink.
It is natural that Mr Corbyn would place such an ideological ally in his shadow team, but to have a prospect of winning the 2020 election his shadow chancellor would have to be a more neutral figure.
The Conservatives won re-election in May mainly on grounds of perceived economic competence and fears that Labour lacked such ability.
But Mr McDonnell’s economic views are not the only problem. His 2003 praise for the bravery of IRA terrorists suggests that his views on Northern Ireland are vile.
When Mr Corbyn stood in silence for the IRA terrorists justly killed by the SAS in 1987 in Loughgall, he was perhaps naive (possibly unaware that some of the dead were mass murderers). It was harder to plead naivete when Mr Corbyn later described the death of the evil and deranged Osama bin Laden as “a tragedy”.
But Mr McDonnell’s comments 12 years ago are too detailed to have any possible mitigation of naivete.
He is now trying to justify that speech, but that he ever heaped such a tribute on the IRA killing machine is grounds alone to keep him out of high office in the United Kingdom.