‘I want to transform Capitalism’ says John McDonnell as he disowns Marx

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Labour Shadow Chancellor JOHN McDONNELL (right) alongside TOM WATSON supporting striking BA workers lobby of parliament
Labour Shadow Chancellor JOHN McDONNELL (right) alongside TOM WATSON supporting striking BA workers lobby of parliament

LABOUR will not raise taxes for the vast majority of workers but will increase rates for those earning over £80,000, John McDonnell said yesterday.

He pledged to be Britain’s ‘first socialist Labour chancellor’. McDonnell said in a speech in London’s Docklands that Labour is on the side of working families: ‘The choice at this election is very clear on tax as there is currently only one party which is committing not to raise taxes on middle and low earners.

‘If Labour is elected next month we will guarantee that for the next five years there will be no tax rises for income taxpayers earning less than £80,000 a year, no hikes in VAT, and no changes in your National Insurance Contributions either. The Labour Party is now the party of low taxes for middle and low earners, while the Tories are the party of tax handouts for the super-rich and big corporations. Only the Labour Party is promising to stand up for working people, the majority in our country, while the Tories have made clear they are determined to carry on handing out tax giveaways to a wealthy few.’

He said the ‘economy is holding you back’ in a cycle of low pay and few opportunities but it is ‘not some force of nature’ and the government ‘can fix it’. Earlier, on the Andrew Marr show it was put to McDonnell: ‘You are applying to be the second most important person in the country. And you’re going to be the first Marxist Chancellor this country has ever had in modern times. How is that going to affect the way we go?

McDonnell said: ‘I’m going to be the first Socialist in the tradition of the Labour Party. And what that means, it’s going to be rooted – let me just finish – it’s going to be rooted in Labour Party values and what are they? Fairness and equality but making sure that there is a democratic decision taken at every stage.

‘So that means I will be including in the economic development process of our country businesses and trade unions and communities, local government, elected Mayors and we will determine together the future of our country. It will not be done by private lobbyists behind closed doors as it is under this government at the moment.’

Marr said: ‘The only reason I use the Marxist word is that you yourself have said again and again and again, “I’m clear, I’m an unapologetic Marxist”.’ McDonnell: ‘No.’

Marr added: ‘Sure, okay. So a very, very clear simple question. Are you a Marxist?’ McDonnell: ‘No. I believe there’s a lot to learn –’

Marr: ‘Is that a no or a yes? I couldn’t work it out.’ McDonnell: ‘Okay, no, well I’ll tell you. I believe there’s a lot to learn from reading Capital, yes of course it is, and that’s been recommended not just by me but many others, mainstream economists as well. . .’

Marr: ‘Now looking, you mentioned Das Kapital there and the great prediction in Capital which you have yourself raised, is that capitalism as a system will come down with an enormous crash. There will be a crisis and the entire system will fail. And you have said –’ McDonnell: ‘Well that’s where Marx got it wrong, didn’t he? That’s where Marx got it wrong.’

Marr: ‘Because you yourself have said that you don’t just simply want to replace the government, you want to bring down the system.’ McDonnell: ‘I want to transform –’

Marr: ‘Do you still want to bring down the system?’ McDonnell: ‘I want to transform the system. That’s where Marx got it wrong, we know that.’

Marr: ‘So you don’t want to destroy the capitalist system?’ McDonnell: ‘I want to transform the system. I’ll tell you how I want to transform it. I want to transform it in a way in which we have a prosperous economy, but where that prosperity is shared by all. Where it’s economically sustainable, but environmentally sustainable as well.’