John McDonnell is making a speech this weekend, in which the big idea seems to be something the Corbynites are referring to as “Socialism with an iPad.” Put to one side the reality that if Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and his comrades had been in a position of economic power in recent decades there would be no iPads, or smart phones. Goodness, if they had been in power we would be lucky if there was any bread in the shops.
McDonnell is an unreconstructed hater of markets and profits, which is the process by which capital is accumulated for investment and ideas and innovations thrive or die based on whether people choose to buy them. A McDonnell ministry might, by now, have just about completed its 25 year research study into how to design a state-owned British alternative to the internet. His Socialism would certainly not have produced anything to rival the cornucopia of consumer delights and serious advances in technology that we have just lived through, amounting to a second industrial revolution.
And yes, government had a role in the US technological revolution, in funding defence research and academic research, but privately-endowed Stanford was pivotal and there was no centralised Washington plan. What emerged owed more to the entrepreneurial drive of talented individuals operating in concert to improve technology, race rivals and generate profit.
Forget all that though. This latest speech by a member of what passes for the Labour high command is a reminder that McDonnell is a complete chancer.
What is most incredible about the man has been his chutzpah since he was appointed by Jeremy Corbyn. Rather than acknowledging that he has a hard road ahead to convince people, and perhaps beginning by trying to introduce himself to the voters on whose consciousness he has never hitherto impinged, he charges right ahead, declaring how the economy will be run under his charge, announcing “reviews” as though they mean something and talking in terms that suggest he thinks he is already a great national figure established in the public imagination. On the most basic level, he seems to assume the citizenry know who he is, as though his credentials as a great economic thinker are already established, when really they are not.
Sensible Labour people can only hope that appalled moderate MPs have a plan to remove the ridiculous Corbyn, who will then take the ludicrous McDonnell with him. Unless, John McDonnell then fancies the leadership for himself post-Corbyn. Oh no…