John McDonnell today declared there is “a lot to learn” from Karl Marx as he set out Labour’s plan to raise taxes on those earning more than £80,000 a year.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning, the Shadow Chancellor refused to repeat his previous claim that he is a Marxist, but did highlight the importance of the revolutionary philosopher’s influential work “Das Kapital”.
However, McDonnell said that unlike Marx he wanted to “transform” the capitalist system, as opposed to destroy it.
In the past, the Hayes and Harlington MP has been open about his support for Marxism, telling activists: “I’m straight up, I’m honest with people: I’m a Marxist.”
The Tories claimed Das Kapital was clearly the “blueprint” for Labour’s economic plan, and International Development Priti Patel said: “The man Jeremy Corbyn wants to make Chancellor believes that the nonsensical ideas of Karl Marx – punitive taxes, closing down businesses and the removal of private property – should be at the heart of Britain’s economic policy.”
On the Marr show today, McDonnell also went on to claim that should Labour win the election, he would be the first “Socialist” chancellor in history – a clear criticism of the nine previous Labour politicians who have run the Treasury.
His suggestion that Labour figures such as Gordon Brown, Denis Healey and Stafford Cripps were not “socialists in the tradition of the Labour Party” provoked anger on Twitter.
Asked to give more detail on his plan to raise taxes on those earning more than £80,000 a year, McDonnell said any increase would be “modest” but refused to say whether he would introduce a completely new tax band.
Appearing on ITV’s Peston on Sunday show less than an hour later, fellow Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry admitted she did not know how much money the tax hike would raise.
During the Marr interview, McDonnell also refused to endorse his previous statement that it would be “inevitable” that he and leader Jeremy Corbyn would have to quit their positions if Labour lost the General Election.
He made the initial comments during an interview with Marr in July 2016, but today refused to repeat them.