John McDonnell at the Labour Party Conference 2015: Balance the budget by going after Google, Starbucks, Amazon and Vodafone

 
Lauren Fedor
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McDonnell called the Conservatives the party of the "one per cent" (Source: Getty)
The newly-appointed shadow chancellor of the exchequer John McDonnell used his first major conference speech today as Jeremy Corbyn's right-hand man to attack the government's austerity plan and go after big companies like Starbucks, Google, Amazon and Vodafone.
Calling the Conservatives the party of the "one per cent", McDonnell said austerity was "not an economic necessity, but a political choice".
"The leadership of the Conservative Party made a conscious decision six years ago that the very richest would be protected and it wouldn’t be those who caused the economic crisis, who would pay for it."
He said a Labour government would instead narrow the deficit by "forc[ing] people like Starbucks, Vodafone, Amazon and Google and all the others to pay their fair share of taxes".
The shadow chancellor added Labour will cut what he called the "corporate welfare system", saying: "There will be cuts to subsidies paid to companies that take the money and fail to provide the jobs, cuts to the use of taxpayers’ money subsidising poverty paying bosses, cuts to the billion pound tax breaks given to buy to let landlords for repairing their properties, whether they undertake the repairs or not."
McDonnell also said a Labour government would use "active monetary policy to stimulate demand where necessary" and turn the business department "into a powerful economic development department, in charge of public investment, infrastructure planning and setting new standards at work for all employees".
Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle addressed the conference earlier today.
McDonnell used the opportunity to attack George Osborne's trip to China last week, saying he found Tory opposition to the renationalisation of railways "ironic when George Osborne was touring China selling off to the Chinese State Bank any British asset he could lay his hands on".
Osborne announced the bidding process for phase one of the HS2 project at an event in Chengdu, China, last week, inviting Chinese and other foreign companies to bid on at least seven new contracts worth £11.8bn.
"It seems the state nationalising our assets is ok with the Tories as long as it’s the Chinese state or in the case of our railways the Dutch or French," McDonnell said.
The new shadow chancellor also questioned whether the Treasury and Bank of England are "fit for purpose", telling conference delegates that he was convening a team to review the institutions' operations.
Rejecting claims that a Corbyn government would seek to return the Bank to political oversight, McDonnell said: "Let me be clear that we will guarantee the independence of the Bank of England.
"It is time though to open a debate on the Bank’s mandate," he added.

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