Labour’s Would-be Chancellor: We Will ‘Overthrow Capitalism’ and ‘Radically Transform Society’

John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn
PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor and right-hand man to party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said it is his “job” to “overthrow capitalism” and “radically” transform society, whilst praising the former leader of socialist Venezuela.

John McDonnell repeatedly and emphatically backed bringing down the UK’s system of free enterprise and trade in an interview with the BBC, as well as calling for private firms to hand over their profits to the state.

The man who Labour would put in charge of the Treasury, tasked with running Britain’s economy, said he aimed to transform society “in a way that radically changes the system”.

Asked if his job were the overthrow of capitalism, he replied: “Yes it is. It’s transforming the economy.”

Pushed on whether he saw a difference between transforming the economy and overthrowing the capitalist system, he was clear:

“I don’t think there is a difference between transforming society and overthrowing capitalism. At the end of the day, I want a socialist society and that means transforming it in a way that radically changes the system as it now is.

“I think that is what we’re doing. I think what is interesting is that we are taking people with us. People see that there has to be that transformation.”

The interview moved on to the topic of Venezuela, which is currently facing economic ruin, riots, and massive food shortages despite possessing the largest oil reserves in the world.

Mr. McDonnell, however, praised the leadership of the nation’s former premier Hugo Chavez as showing how socialist policies can succeed.

Challenged by the BBC presenter Sarah Smith on the hyperinflation and shortages of medicine in Venezuela, he claimed socialism “went wrong” and could be done properly.

“No, I don’t think it was a socialist country. I think what happened was [Hugo] Chavez was developing policies which I think would first of all tackle the tragedy of the poverty that was in that country, raising literacy rates, and then investing in the economy, using their oil wealth to do that.

“I think it took a wrong turn when Chavez went. And I think unfortunately since then I don’t think they’ve been following the socialist policies that Chavez was developing.

“And as a result of that, they’re experiencing the current problems.”

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