UK: John McDonnell and Karl Marx

Here is a summary of the first day of the British Labour Party conference taking place in Brighton, England:

Labour conference: John McDonnell says Marx 'has come back into fashion' - Politics live

Rolling coverage of all the day’s events at the Labour conference in Brighton, including John McDonnell’s speech on the economy

Link: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2015/sep/28/labour-conference-john-mcdonnells-economy-speech-politics-live?CMP=twt_gu

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, is speaking at the Labour conference today. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, is speaking at the Labour conference today. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

John McDonnell's morning interviews - Summary

Here are the key points from John McDonnell’s interview with Today and other broadcasters. I’ve taken some of the quotes from the Press Association and from PoliticsHome.
  • McDonnell defended the use of non-violent direct action in some circumstances, saying that the government only started to address corporate tax avoidance seriously after the protests from UK Uncut.This came when he was asked about speeches he has given in the past defending “insurrection”. He said:
I will give you one example, on tax justice. Years ago I was part of a tax justice campaign where we had meeting after meeting about how we make sure we tackle tax evasion, tax avoidance in this country. Along come a group of young people called UK Uncut and they took some direct action - they protested in the street, they occupied a couple of offices that were not paying their taxes. Eventually that meant that we started addressing the issue and even George Osborne then had to start addressing the issue. So sometimes, in addition to parliamentary debates, we do need a bit of protest in this country. That is exactly what I have been advocating. But it is purely non-violent protest.
  • He dismissed as “absolute rubbish” a report saying Unite is organise to kick out moderate MPs. This is reported in today’s Times.
  • McDonnell said he speech was going to be “stultifyingly boring” and that it was going to be “like talking to your local bank manager in the old days”.
  • He dismissed claims that he was proposing massive tax rises for the middle classes as “fantasy”. He was responding to these headlines.

  • He said Karl Marx has “come back into fashion”.
If you look at our capitalist system, one of the definitive analysts of how it works - not whether it is condemned, or whether it is right or wrong, just the mechanics of how it works, when it was first formed and how it would be developed - actually was Marx. If you look at most of the institutions that are teaching economics today, Marx has come back in to fashion because people have gone back to his analysis of just the basics of how the system works.
People might disagree with his conclusions about what to do with the system, but actually to understand how the system works he comes up with some interesting analyses that have been built in to traditional and fairly classical economics.

Karl Marx, who has "come back into fashion", according to John McDonnell
 Karl Marx, who has “come back into fashion”, according to John McDonnell Photograph: Michael Nicholson/Michael Nicholson/CORBIS

  • He confirmed that he would be announcing a review of HM Revenue and Customs.
  • He said he wanted to start “the most engaging debate about the state of our economy and the future of our economy that I think this country has ever seen.”
  • He said he would review the mandate given to the Bank of England. It was failing to meet its inflation target, he said.
  • He said that he regretted the fact that the Labour conference decided not to have a debate on Trident.
  • He said he would only propose using quantitative easing (QE) for investment at the right time in the economic cycle.
  • He said he would announce a review of the case for a financial transaction tax, but that current policy was for it to be introduced globally, not unilaterally.
  • He said people should not “confuse democracy with disunity”.
This new politics that’s been introduced since Jeremy Corbyn’s election is basically saying our members are the people who own this party, it’s our members who will make the policy. But all of us - MPs, members of the shadow cabinet - will all be participating in our debate and our policy making. We believe in equality and that’s what we’ve got now. We’re all equal now and we will all be involved in this debate and it will be democracy. Don’t confuse democracy with disunity.

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