At 12.15 today, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, took to the stage of Labour Party Conference to lay out a bold, economic ‘New Deal’ for the UK.
Since arriving in Brighton yesterday, one thing has stuck out: the Labour Party are preparing themselves for Government.
Gone are the days in which Corbyn and McDonnell, backbenchers in the Party only two years ago, were accused of being simply content in opposition.
Both Corbyn and McDonnell have confirmed that they are in the process of drafting legislation – what they call “implementation manuals” for their manifesto policies – and training their shadow ministers for the eventual task of leading Her Majesty’s Government.
Earlier today, we gained more insight into the practicalities of one of the Leadership’s most significant manifesto promises: the re-nationalisation of key utilities.
McDonnell said that Parliament would decide the level of compensation shareholders in these currently privatised industries would receive; as has happened in every state nationalisation in the past.
Labour’s 2017 manifesto suggested that the railways, energy and Royal Mail would all be brought back into public ownership as opposed to being run for profit.
McDonnell reaffirmed this today to rapturous applaud.
Indeed, what remains abundantly clear is the fact that Labour, under the direction of Corbyn and McDonnell, are providing the British electorate with a genuine alternative to the Thatcher-inspired policies that have dominated our national politic for the last four decades.
Even Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ project adopted its core values of low taxation, privatisation and deregulation of the financial sector.
Whereas the Conservative Party, and the Liberal Democrats to a lesser extent, still continue to champion this; Labour are calling for much more state intervention in the management of the country’s economic affairs.
Among other things – public investment, higher taxes on the wealthy, public ownership, pay ratios at the top, decarbonisation and extending the parameters of democracy within the workplace. All of which are contrary to neoliberalism and its brutal austerity programme.
What remains murky however, is what kind of economic politics we’re really dealing with here.
Or is this the beginning of something else? A post-capitalist economy?
The risk of course, with Keynesianism, is that the Left have been here before…
After the Second World War, Keynesianism remained the dominant economic ideology until it was eventually usurped by the re-emergence of classical liberalism, neoliberalism, in the 1970s.
Since then, virtually everything the Keynesian political consensus built – with the exception of the NHS and BBC – has been trashed, bought or sold.
If Corbyn and McDonnell are indeed serious about challenging the ruling elite, and creating a new kind of politics, then they must look beyond capitalism.
The duo have quite a mountain to scale, despite their infectious optimism and sense of hope.
Today, McDonnell’s speech was nothing short of inspiring as he laid out the foundations, in relative practical detail, for what could be a very different kind of society.
The world is watching them now. Both allies and enemies.