To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible opon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service
The original version of Clause IV, drafted by Sidney Webb in November 1917 and adopted by the Labour Party 1918.
Having been a Labour supporter for the past 35 years (scary thought) and politicised in a South Yorkshire Pit Village I think I have seen enough to comment on what is happening to the Labour Party, well more like what is not happening.
I have lived through the embarrassment of the Lib-Lab Pact where the Government of the day were wheeling people in on Trolleys from their Hospital beds to vote and get legislation through Parliament, and the numerous ‘cliff hangers’ of the ‘No Confidence Votes’, the Press having a field day of the ‘Beer and Sandwiches’ at No 10 between Labour and the Unions, before that I vaguely remember Barbara Castle taking on the Unions with the ‘In Place of Strife’ – so I think I have a right to comment.
I also remember the ‘wilderness years’ as Margaret Thatcher carved up the nation and took on the Coal Miners in a spectacular ‘grudge match’ over the downfall of the Heath Government that lasted a year and tore communities apart with the ramifications still felt today (her ‘where there is conflict, let me bring peace’ – that still sends shivers down my spine) and the glorious years in opposition with a succession leaders, Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock, John Smith and the decimation of the Left-Wing, the removal of the Clause Four, the secularisation of the socialism.
The towering intellect of Michael Foot was wasted in the dog fighting, feral environment of British politics, proving the soundbite is mightier than the reasoned argument, John Smith, arguably the best Prime Minster we never had, brought it all together for Tony Blair to reap the rewards. I have seen the great thinkers, the great tinkerers and the opportunists lead the Labour Party and I have stuck by them all, the brightest of them all was Michael Foot, but he wasn’t really photogenic, and his idealism too pure for the people.
If I have learned anything in the shifting mire of British politics it is that policies need to be flexible, need to change according to circumstance, and means to achieve; these values should be inviolable and as sacred as the Bill of Rights in America. What we need is not someone who is ‘clever’ but someone who believes passionately not in Parliament but believes passionately in the people, we need people who have seen what life is like without the NHS and the true poverty, not only of goods but of spirit that exists today.
Above all we need clearly established values of what the Labour Party is about, democracy, Social Justice, that no-one who wants to work will be on the streets, that all must have the same rights and above all a meritocracy; a meritocracy creating prosperity and working with the World for a better place to live, has the Labour Party become so enamoured with profit that we have forgotten our.
With core values firmly in place, we can then coherently argue an economic and social policy without accepting the Tory agenda; and the Labour Party cannot be hijacked by any failed Tory politicians who happens to come our way, that we hold ‘these rights to be self-evident’ that can unite the Party, and unite the people. We need to show people a vision, a hope and a different way, we need to be Left-Centre, not Centre Right.
The reason behind Clause Four was not only to be a heroic, and inspiring piece of prose, but a goal and a spur to create a better society, we cannot hope to capture the ‘hearts and minds’ of the electorate with Tory Lite polices, we have to believe in something, or we are just the LibDem Party with a catchier theme song.
If you do not read this blog, then please just read the above link, be inspired