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John McDonnell: I want to change capitalist economic model

Published 14/09/2015

John McDonnell is shadow chancellor in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet. Photo: PA
John McDonnell is shadow chancellor in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet. Photo: PA

New shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said he wants to change the capitalist economic model and eradicate "unacceptable" poverty.

The veteran left-winger, new party leader Jeremy Corbyn's long-term ally in Westminster, has backed renationalisation of the banking system, effectively printing money to fund government investment, and a 60% tax rate on earnings above £100,000.

Mr McDonnell, who boasts in his Who's Who entry that his hobbies include "fermenting (sic) the overthrow of capitalism", told Channel 4 News: "The emphasis is on ferment, which was about brewing. It means ensuring people understand what capitalism is, and we talk together about how we change it because it is failing people at the moment.

"I think change is a gradual process ... but at the end of the day, I do want to transform it."

He said part of the shadow chancellor's job was to reform capitalism and "put forward an alternative to what's happening to people at the moment".

Mr McDonnell said he was "not particularly interested in a tax on income", but was more concerned with organisations not paying taxes and "laughing all the way to the bank".

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He also described how the current economic situation has left "unacceptable" levels of people in poverty.

Mr McDonnell said he understood why his appointment was not met with acclaim from Labour grandees.

He said: "I'm a backbencher, I've been opposed to virtually everything New Labour has done, I've been voting against them on many things like privatisation, Iraq.

"I've had to oppose a lot of things and sometimes that's meant swimming against the stream. That has meant, at times, Jeremy and I have been isolated. But actually, we were right on many of these things.

"I think we have been proven right and I think the tide is now with us."

Mr McDonnell also gave a short explanation about the basis of comments he made in 2003 when he described the IRA as "brave".

He told Channel 4 News he did it for the sake of the Northern Ireland peace process.

He said: "Some of us had to go out there - I might not have chosen the right words - and actually explain to them they could stand down with dignity.

"I know as a result of that I got attacked, but actually it worked. And if it saved one life, it was worth it."

Undated photos of appointments made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to the party's shadow cabinet (top row left to right) Deputy leader, party chair and shadow minister for the Cabinet Office Tom Watson, Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander, (second row left to right) Chief whip Rosie Winterton, Lords Chief Whip Lord Bassam of Brighton, Shadow leader of the House of Lords Baroness Smith of Basildon, Shadow leader of the House of Commons Chris Bryant, Shadow Attorney General Catherine McKinnell, (third row left to right) Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Seema Malhotra, Shadow business secretary and first secretary of state Angela Eagle, Shadow justice secretary Lord Falconer, Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, Shadow secretary of state for International Development Diane Abbott, (Fourth row left to right) Shadow secretary for Northern Ireland Vernon Coaker, Shadow secretary for Wales Nia Griffith, Shadow secretary for Scotland Ian Murray, Shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle, Shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith, (fifth row left to right) Shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy, Shadow secretary of state for environment Kerry McCarthy, Shadow communities secretary Jon Trickett, Shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher, Shadow secretary of state for transport Lilian Greenwood, (sixth row left to right) Shadow secretary for women and equalities Kate Green, Shadow minister for young people and voter registration Gloria De Piero, Shadow minister for mental health Luciana Berger, Shadow minister without Portfolio Jonathan Ashworth and Shadow minister for housing John Healey.
Undated photos of appointments made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to the party's shadow cabinet (top row left to right) Deputy leader, party chair and shadow minister for the Cabinet Office Tom Watson, Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander, (second row left to right) Chief whip Rosie Winterton, Lords Chief Whip Lord Bassam of Brighton, Shadow leader of the House of Lords Baroness Smith of Basildon, Shadow leader of the House of Commons Chris Bryant, Shadow Attorney General Catherine McKinnell, (third row left to right) Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Seema Malhotra, Shadow business secretary and first secretary of state Angela Eagle, Shadow justice secretary Lord Falconer, Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, Shadow secretary of state for International Development Diane Abbott, (Fourth row left to right) Shadow secretary for Northern Ireland Vernon Coaker, Shadow secretary for Wales Nia Griffith, Shadow secretary for Scotland Ian Murray, Shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle, Shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith, (fifth row left to right) Shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy, Shadow secretary of state for environment Kerry McCarthy, Shadow communities secretary Jon Trickett, Shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher, Shadow secretary of state for transport Lilian Greenwood, (sixth row left to right) Shadow secretary for women and equalities Kate Green, Shadow minister for young people and voter registration Gloria De Piero, Shadow minister for mental health Luciana Berger, Shadow minister without Portfolio Jonathan Ashworth and Shadow minister for housing John Healey.

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