The public lectures are named in honour of Pendle’s longest serving MP, Sydney Silverman.
Mr McDonnell has close links with Burnley and Pendle, having worked at Mullards in Padiham and studied A-Levels at Burnley Technical College.
With Sydney Silverman’s socialist values in mind, Mr McDonnell’s lecture, entitled “21st Century Socialism: The change we need”, focused on how socialist principles in the modern day can support ordinary people.
Describing socialism as “The pursuit of equality through democracy”, McDonnell went on to state that not simply party politics, but also community and trade union activism, play a big part in the pursuit of equality for all.
The cost of living crisis, he said, has been made worse by the government reducing corporate tax on companies which make huge profits while increasing taxes on ordinary people.
Silverman was born in poverty to migrant Jewish parents from Romania. His father was a draper living in the Kensington Fields area of Liverpool. As an academic Silverman first became a lecturer in English before training as a solicitor.
A committed socialist, he was elected as the Labour MP for Nelson and Colne and served from 1935 to his death in1968. Most notably, Silverman was involved with the resettlement of Jewish migrants escaping the Holocaust and was instrumental in abolishing capital punishment.
Following the lecture Mr McDonnell took questions from the public.
The lecture was organised and sponsored by Pendle Labour Party and the Co-operative Party.