Labour ‘will be more radical than Attlee’
McDonnell: We’ll clear way for a new society
THE next Labour government will be more radical than Clement Attlee’s pioneering post-war administration, shadow chancellor John McDonnell vowed at the weekend.
After defeating Winston Churchill’s Tories in 1945, Attlee’s single-term government gave birth to the NHS and welfare state and brought coal, electricity and rail into public ownership.
Mr McDonnell said that Labour can “lay the foundations of a new society that is radically fairer, more equal and more democratic” if it takes power in 2020.
The shadow chancellor made the bold statement of intent as he countered claims that Labour had become reduced to a party of protest under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
At the party’s New Economy conference, he insisted that “protest matters and protest makes a difference.” Tory U-turns over cuts to tax credits and disability payments, forced academisation, the tampon tax, Sunday trading, child refugees and the inclusion of the NHS in TTIP were all evidence of that, he said.
“It’s almost dizzying, watching them from the opposite benches,” Mr McDonnell told the packed-out conference in central London.
But he accepted that it is “not enough to block and protest” and insisted that Labour “is a party of government.”
He said: “When we return to government, we must aspire to be another great reforming administration.
“I want us to surpass even the Attlee government for radical reform. The situation demands nothing less.”
Mr McDonnell said that will require a “transformation in how capitalism in Britain operates” that will end Britain’s overreliance on financial services and create a fairer tax system.
“This country will no longer act like a tax haven for the super-rich under Labour,” the shadow chancellor pledged.
Instead Labour will foster an “entrepreneurial state” that will support industries like steel and renewables by boosting demand.
Mr McDonnell also set out his vision for “socialism from below,” including the introduction of a “right to own” for workers in the style of Thatcher’s right-to-buy housing policy.
“From community-owned renewable generation to open-source software, collective and shared forms of ownership can provide fairer and more efficient ways of working than the older business models,” he said.