John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor who cites Marx as an intellectual influence and wants to tax the super-rich, has announced that he will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos – the annual gathering of the global elite.
The conference in the Swiss ski resort, held every January, is a talking shop for politicians, business leaders and rock star philanthropists to discuss the state of the world economy.
McDonnell had accepted an invitation to attend, a spokesman said, adding he would “use the opportunity to set out why it is vital we rewrite the rules of the global economy.
“He will further explain Labour’s vision for an alternative economic approach to replace the current model of capitalism that has failed the many and led to an unsustainable concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few.”
The spokesman said: “In addition, he will raise many of the issues facing working people in our country and across the world.”
McDonnell, the MP for Hayes and Harlington, is Jeremy Corbyn’s longtime friend and closest political ally. When Labour was in government, he prepared an annual alternative to Gordon Brown’s budgets, accusing his own party of not being sufficiently leftwing.
But as the party eyes power after June’s closer-than-expected general election result, McDonnell has been keen to paint himself as a workaday “bureaucrat”, and held a series of meetings with City figures to stress Labour’s readiness for government.
The chancellor, Philip Hammond, is also due to attend Davos, where the most keenly awaited visitor this year is likely to be the US president, Donald Trump.
Theresa May went in 2017, despite warning in her first Conservative conference speech that “too many people in positions of power behave as though they have more in common with international elites than with the people down the road, the people they employ, the people they pass in the street. But if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.”
When Boris Johnson attended the summit as London mayor, he described it as a “constellation of egos involved in orgies of adulation”.