John McDonnell at Labour’s conference

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell is absolutely right in his call to “start work now” on how to meet potential challenges to a Jeremy Corbyn-led government committed to radical political and economic change. We’re taking up his call.

A Labour government led by McDonnell and Corbyn would come to office at a time when the capitalist system in the UK and globally is vulnerable and, therefore, certain to strike back in both expected and unanticipated ways.

Speaking at a Labour Party fringe meeting, McDonnell warned of a run on the pound or a flight of capital were his party to win the next election. He said a future Labour administration would not be “traditional” and “people want to know we’re ready, and they want to know we’ve got a response to anything that could happen”.

It was important, McDonnell added, for Labour to “scenario-plan” for all kinds of potential challenges it might face in government “bringing the relevant expertise together at every level to talk through what happens if there is such and such a reaction”.

Policies of renationalisation, expanded public spending on the NHS and other services, publicly-owned regional banks, infrastructure funds and scrapping tuition fees will meet a fragile economy propped up and weakened by record levels of borrowing at state, corporate and consumer levels.

Moreover, the state crisis over Brexit negotiations will be with us for an indefinite period as the ruling political and economic classes struggle for a direction and identity following the shock referendum EU rejection vote.

Add in Corbyn’s call in his conference speech that Labour “will transform Britain by genuinely putting power in the hands of the people” through remaking UK democracy and you sense the counter-reaction building already.

The attacks will come from all directions – from the financial markets and hedge funds, from the transnational corporations which drive policy making, to state bodies like the Treasury, the Bank of England and, naturally, the secret agencies such as MI5 whose sole agenda is “defence of the realm”.

The pressure will also come from credit rating agencies, the European Commission, the IMF and World Trade Organisation.

As Theresa May restated in her speech the day after Corbyn’s, free market capitalism must prevail. She was speaking not just for the Tory Party but for the political and economic establishment as a whole.

While scenario-planning is important, the solutions are unlikely to be found solely at government level or in political manoeuvring. Defence of a Corbyn-McDonnell government has to be prepared at community, workplace, city and regional levels through the active participation of the people themselves.

When the system strikes back, a strategy has to be in place of mobilising people not simply to resist and oppose but to actually defeat the enemy within. It will almost certainly evolve into a struggle for power – who has it and who doesn’t. The voters need to be made aware of this now and urged to become involved rather than waiting for a general election.

Scenario planning should, for example, include what kind of new democratic state can ensure rule by the 99%; how to reconstruct financial markets and the banking sector; what co-ownership and control of the major corporations would look like and how land, which is key to housing, could be brought into a new commons.

On October 28, Real Democracy Movement supporters, some of who are Labour members, are holding a Planning Day in London to engage in just this sort of scenario thinking and propose actions. You are warmly invited to become a supporter and take part in “Towards the RDM – planning for a Corbyn government”. Email with “October 28” in the subject line for more details about the day.

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