John McDonnell June 2012


John McDonnell is MP for Hayes & Harlington

The austerity programme of the Coalition government is not just failing: it is prolonging and deepening the recession. Cuts in investment in public services and in jobs, wages, pensions and benefits are creating mass unemployment and mounting hardship.

Austerity is creating a spiral of economic decline as cuts produce high levels of unemployment which in turn reduces tax income and prompts another round of cuts and job losses.

The Government’s austerity measures are also unfair as the only people the Government seems intent on protecting from the recession are the rich.

There is an alternative to austerity

There is no lack of wealth and resources in our country that we can draw upon to tackle this recession. The problem is that this wealth and these resources are held in the hands of too few people and are not being used productively to create the growth and jobs we need.

If we can release these resources, we can overcome the current recession and start to build a prosperous future for our country, linking with others across Europe and the US to overcome this global economic gridlock.

Releasing the resources within our own country is not difficult

It simply requires the introduction of a limited range of redistributive measures which will raise the funds we need from those most able to pay and who have profited most out of the boom years.

This redistribution can be achieved through:

  • a wealth tax on the richest 10%,
  • a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions,
  • a Land Value tax,
  • the restoration of progressive income tax of 60% on incomes above £100,000;
  • and a clamp down on the tax evasion and avoidance that is costing us £95 billion a year.


Investing the resources released can halt the spiral of decline

With unemployment rising month by month we urgently need to get people back to work and earning a decent living.

We can do this by investing the resources we can release through taxation in modernising our economy, its infrastructure and our public services to meet the needs of our community.

Instead of cutting and privatising our health, education and local services, this means:

  • investing in a mass public housing building and renovation programme, in universal chidcare, in the modernisation of our public services, in our transport infrastructure and in the extension of broadband;
  • investing in alternative energy, combined heat and power and insulation to both tackle climate change and create one million climate change jobs;
  • establishing a national investment bank with the resources levied from the banks so that there is no shortage of funds to lend for manufacturing growth and research and development.


To be successful the recovery programme has to be fair

We shall need the support of a significant majority of our people if we are to drive through this type of radical regeneration and redistribution programme.

To gain this level of support means the Radical Alternative must be seen to be fair. This means addressing many of the inequalities of our current system.

For those at the top it means ending the bonuses and limiting high salaries to no more than 20 times the lowest paid in any company or organisation.

For all others it means replacing the minimum wage with a living wage and a living pension and living welfare benefits, reducing the working week to 35 hours, closing the gender pay gap, controlling rents and energy prices, and restoring rights at work.
For young people it means a guaranteed job, apprenticeship, training or college place for every young person with the burden of fees abolished.

There is no shortage of resources to implement this programme of reform

The problem is the distribution of these resources.The Radical Alternative simply releases the resources that we have to regain control of our economy and to invest in our future. Never again can we let them say that there is no alternative.

  • John McDonnell is MP for Hayes & Harlington and Chair of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs and the Labour Representation Committee.
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