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JOHN MCDONNELL vowed today to implement “union rights from day one” of a Labour government, to counteract creeping neoliberalism even within unions themselves.
Speaking to Unite delegates at the union’s biennial policy conference in Brighton, the shadow chancellor said that the current neoliberal system is failing and that major change is needed.
He said: “We need to understand the significance of the moment we’re in. Neoliberalism has dominated economic thinking in this country for nearly more than 30 years.
“Unfortunately, it permeated our movement as well.”
After joking that “I like to quote Marxists, because it gets us in the Daily Mail on a regular basis,” he drew from Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci’s work on cultural hegemony to recall that the idea that “the market is always right” was nearly successful in “hegemonising” the British labour movement.
“Somehow, if you cut taxes for the rich it will somehow trickle down — this was what they said.”
However, Mr McDonnell said: “We now know this idea isn’t true. It isn’t true because we have 5,000 homeless people sleeping on our streets at the moment.
“That whole system — that whole line of thinking — has been discredited by the experience of people’s everyday lives.”
He vowed that Labour would introduce tax avoidance laws to “dig up” the “magic money tree” that was unpaid tax money in the Cayman Islands.
Mr McDonnell also promised that Labour in government would also end privatisation of the NHS, totally abolish PFIs, bring back sectoral collective bargaining and guarantee “trade union rights from day one” for every worker entering the workplace for the first time.
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