John McDonnell berates Sajid Javid. How should he respond?

The new chancellor of the exchequer has been criticised by Labour’s big hitter. How should he respond?

By Tim Gibson

The shadow chancellor of the exchequer John McDonnell has launched a stinging attack on his opposite number in the government, Sajid Javid.

Writing to PM Boris Johnson, Mr McDonnell questioned the chancellor’s suitability for office, claiming his former role as a banker at Deutsche Bank undermines his trustworthiness.

In his letter, the Labour stalwart said that Mr Javid’s involvement in selling controversial collateralised debt obligation (CDOs) while in a senior role with the German investment bank is a reason not to trust him with the nation’s economy.

Mr McDonnell also drew attention to the chancellor’s alleged involvement in a tax-avoidance scheme for which Deutsche Bank was criticised in 2016.

The chancellor is yet to respond to Mr McDonnell’s criticisms. But Peter Foy, a director at Just Recruitment Group Ltd, says that he must be tempted to rebut the claims in order to prove his suitability for high office.

    "If someone criticises you in a professional context, the first instinct is to defend yourself"  

“If someone criticises you in a professional context, the first instinct is to defend yourself,” Mr Foy says. “But it may be that this course of action isn’t the most sensible.

“Think about it like this: by addressing the criticisms, he’ll give them further airtime. More than that, he accords them credibility, because he shows that he takes them seriously. But by keeping quiet and getting on with his job, Mr Javid can put the whole thing to one side and denude Mr McDonnell’s broadside of its force.”

Mr Foy is careful not to offer an opinion about the legitimacy of the shadow chancellor’s claims. But he does think there’s a valuable lesson for all professionals to learn from the experience.

“It can be stinging to receive criticism in a work context, especially from a competitor,” he says. “The professional response is to rise above it. There will always be people who don’t think you’re up to your job, especially if you have a high-profile role in politics, education or commerce. That’s one of the costs of leadership. And the way to deal with it is to focus on your job, working to the best of your ability.”

That said, Mr Foy thinks it’s a bad idea to be driven by a desire to prove your detractors wrong.

“Trying to demonstrate your worth is a slippery slope. You can seem plaintive or desperate, which isn’t a good look and won’t inspire confidence. In fact, it’ll have the opposite effect: if people think you’ve gone on the defensive, it undermines your credibility.”

    "The professional response is to rise above it"  

But what if the criticisms are levelled at you directly, as they may be to a politician like Mr Javid in a news conference, say, or to a company manager at a staff meeting? How are you to deal with them then?

Mr Foy is very clear in his response to this question: “Never ignore a challenge, but be careful not to be defensive when responding to it. Let your questioner know that everyone’s entitled to their view but that you have confidence in your fitness for the role you hold.

“Resist the urge to invite judgment by your results. Anyone in business or politics will tell you that there’s not always a correlation between the quality of a leader and the results they produce. Sadly, life is rarely that simple.”

How to deal with criticism: three steps

1) Honesty. It can hurt when someone questions your professional bona fides. There’s no harm in acknowledging this fact, even if you don’t accept the criticism. Some of the best managers show their human side without undermining their authority.

2) Be positive. Rather than telling people why the criticisms of you are misplaced, highlight the positives. Remind them why your experience and skills make you the right person for the job. If Mr Javid believes his banking experience will make him a more effective chancellor, it would be worth him saying so.

3) Focus on the job at hand. Don’t let criticism put you off your stroke. Everyone in a senior position receives it from time to time. Focus on doing your job as well as you can. If the criticism is unmerited, you’ll soon demonstrate that fact.

Published: 8 August 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you enjoyed this article, you may like this: Five ways to make your people more creative

You may also enjoy: Five habits of great employees

Jobs currently available

Sector: Transport, Logistics and Shipping
Salary: £18,000 - £22,000 per annum
Location: Chelmsford
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909015
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for a driver to join a large and well-established business, with multiple branches across the UK.

This position will be based at their Chelmsford branch.

The role involves delivering various items to locations in and around the Chelmsford area.

You must have a full clean driving licence and have experience of driving either transit or LWB vans.

Working Hours:

  • 45 per week Mon-Fri 7:30 - 5 plus 2 Saturday mornings (8am-12pm) per month - paid at overtime rates!


  • Salary Negotiable.
  • Attendance bonus scheme.
  • Company pension scheme.
  • Shared profit scheme.
  • Uniform and PPE provided.

Duties will include:

  • Deliveries in and around Chelmsford
  • Assisting with various warehouse duties
  • Proving a friendly service to customers and other staff whilst out on the road and within the branch as and when required.
  • Working with the team to ensure the branch runs smoothly and customers are delighted with the service.

In order to be considered for this role you must have worked in a similar role, have excellent IT skills and a good telephone manner.

This is a great opportunity to join an organisation that promotes from within, provides extra training and development and further company benefits.

Read more
Workshop Technician/Mechanic
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £17,500 - £27,000 per annum
Location: Hadleigh
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909014
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Workshop Technician/Mechanic on behalf of a leading independent parts specialists based on the outskirts of Sudbury, Suffolk.


  • £17,500 - £27,000 depending on experience.

Great working environment in a high-spec workshop with heating and insulated flooring, to ensure employees are comfortable all year round.

Duties include:

  • Repair and refurbish motors and gearboxes.
  • Stripping down engines.
  • Disassemble and fix parts.
  • Complete root-cause analysis.


  • 23 days annual leave, plus bank holidays.
  • Free parking.
  • Profit share scheme, available after probation.
  • Medical scheme, available after probation.
  • PPE provided including boots and company branded tshirts / fleeces.
  • Training courses.

This is a fantastic opportunity to join a great company offering lots of progression and excellent benefits.

Candidates must drive due to the location of the company, and will occasionally be required to drive company vehicles.



Read more
Business Development & Account Manager
Sector: Sales
Salary: To be discussed on application
Location: Witham
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909013
About the role

Are you looking to work for an exciting new start-up business offering a great opportunity for you to grow?

Have you worked to targets, and enjoy selling?

Just Recruitment  is delighted to be recruiting for an Account Manager for our client based in Witham.

The role of the Account Manager is to build and develop relationships with new members, working with them throughout their one month free trial and ultimately upgrading them to a paying member.

There will be no cold calling in this role, all leads have come to express their interest!

If you love working in a team, talking to new people, have worked in sales before and have good verbal and written skills then this could be the role for you!

This is a full-time, permanent role working Monday – Friday.




Read more
Legal Secretary
Sector: Law and Security
Salary: £22,000 per annum
Location: Clacton on Sea
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909000
About the role

Just Recruitment is excited to be recruiting for one of the East of England’s longest established Legal Firms.

Operating for over 250 years, they are a full-service law firm, which has doubled in sized over the past four years, and they are looking to expand further by hiring a new Legal Secretary for their Clacton branch.

They are looking for someone with experience of;

  • Electronic diary management.
  • Telephone liaison.
  • Front of house/reception duties.
  • Digital transcription systems.
  • Using accounts software.
  • Various other clerical and administrative duties.

The ideal candidate will have experience working as a Legal Secretary, with a genuine passion for building a career within the law.

They must also have fast typing speeds and the ability to multi-task effectively.

In return you will receive;

  • A competitive salary.
  • 20 days holiday + bank holidays.
  • Contributory pension scheme.
  • As well as a whole host of other benefits.
Read more
Wedding and Special Events Sales Manager - Maternity Cover
Sector: Hospitality and Events Management
Salary: £20,000 - £24,000 per annum
Location: Witham
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908437
About the role

Luxury, grandeur and spectacular!

Our client, one of the finest country house venues in the tantalising Essex Countryside have a fantastic opportunity for you.

They are seeking a full time Wedding and Sales Manager to join their team to support the corporate, wedding sales and planning team on a 12 Month Maternity Cover Contract.

You will be working alongside the Head of Wedding Planning and the CEO in a buzzing environment, that requires you to focus on every little detail to deliver beyond expectations.

You will be responsible for;

  • Hosting all wedding show rounds.
  • Preparing for open evenings and open days.
  • Following up with potential brides or clients to discuss set up and more detailed planning.
  • Working alongside the Operations Team.
  • Work in conjunction with all event staff and catering partners to ensure the function is delivered to the high standards expected.
  • Manage external suppliers.
  • To assist other department managers as and when required.

Please note - this venue will be holding a sensational Christmas Fayre in 2020, along side the normal duties you will also have a heavy hand within the planning and organisation of this spectacular event!

If you have previous experience of wedding sales and managing weddings then we want to hear from you!

Due to the location, you must hold a full UK license and have access to a car.



Read more