McDonnell says “we can win the argument” for universal basic income


John McDonnell

John McDonnell has reaffirmed his commitment to introducing a universal basic income even though there is some hostility towards the policy currently within Labour.

He said he does not expect the policy to make it into the party’s manifesto for the next general election, but does think he can win the argument on the idea in the long term.

The Shadow Chancellor said he would investigate different variations on the idea, drawing on research from the Fabians published this week. He went on to say the public were anxious about increasing inequality in the face of rising costs of living, giving an opportunity to talk about proposals for a basic income.

“I think we’ve got a long way to go in developing the proposal and the argument but I think we can win the argument on it,” he told the Independent.

“What people are anxious about at the moment is around levels of poverty increasing, levels of inequality and at the same time people not being able to get some of the basics in life and that’s why there are large numbers of people turning up at foodbanks,” he added.

“The Fabian Society has just introduced a report today which is looking at reforms to the welfare state and it’s recommending a form of initial basic income for us to explore so we’re going to take that into account. When we look at the experiments that are taking place across Europe at the moment we’ll review those then consider what are options are.

He used the interview to express confidence in Corbyn’s leadership, saying the leader had managed to win back support since the general election and the party’s current poor polling was a result of the disunity from Labour MPs.

“We were matching the Tories in the polls – remember when Jeremy got elected, in a number of polls we were 10 points behind.

“We then, in six months, had matched the Tories in the opinion polls – some of them we were overtaking. But what we’ve been through in the last few weeks, it’s understandable that people are losing confidence because they won’t vote for a disunited party.

“But once the leadership election is decided. we’ll unite behind the leader and as a result of that we’ll pick up in the polls again. Theresa May is going through the traditional upsurge honeymoon of any new leader.”

McDonnell has previously advocated for the policy, which also commands some support fro, other Labour MPs.

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