A new campaign has been launched by British Labour Party and trade union members called Labour4Clause4, which aims to restore Clause 4 and commit the Labour Party to socialist policies. This campaign has the full support of Socialist Appeal (British section of the IMT). We call on local Labour parties, trade union branches, and student societies to endorse it wherever possible.
This month marks the centenary of the adoption of Clause 4, the Labour Party’s commitment to the socialist transformation of society. This campaign is therefore very timely indeed.
The collapse of Carillion exposed a racket being run by the profiteers. It highlighted the disaster of privatisation and the scandal of PFI. At the end of the day, the capitalist bloodsuckers run off with the profits and the workers are forced to pay for the mess left behind.
Today, the situation facing many sections of the working class is dire. We have seen years of wage cuts and austerity, with a permanent reduction in living standards. This is a consequence of the crisis of 2008, the deepest crisis of capitalism since the Great Depression. The economy has still not recovered from this crisis.
There has never been a more relevant time for a socialist programme to answer the anarchy of capitalist crises.
We say a Labour government can no longer afford to patch up the crisis-ridden system. We need a socialist plan of production based on need not profit.
That is why Socialist Appeal has consistently argued that Labour must take over the “commanding heights of the economy”. This means immediately nationalising the banks, financial institutions, land, transport, utilities, post and telecommunications, construction, and the key giant monopolies that control the economy. These must be run under democratic workers’ control and management, with not a penny in compensation to the current fat-cat owners.
We urge every reader to support the Labour4Clause4 campaign. Add your name to the campaign statement, and help pass the model motion in your local Labour Party branch, Momentum group, university Labour club, student union, or trade union branch.
Already the Labour4Clause4 campaign has found an echo throughout the labour movement. Famous figures such as Ken Loach, the left-wing film director, have offered their support to the goal of restoring Clause 4. Labour MPs (such as Dennis Skinner) and trade union leaders (such as Ian Hodson of the bakers' union) have also added their names to the campaign statement.
We must now fight to translate words into deeds. We need a Labour government that is commited to carrying out socialist policies.
Support the campaign by:
- Adding your name to the statement on Socialist Appeal, or on the Labour4Clause4 website.
- Pass the model motion below (also on the campaign website) in your local Labour Party branch, Momentum group, university Labour club, student union, or trade union branch.
- Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and share the campaign statement and model motion.
- Donate to the campaign.
Labour4Clause4 campaign statement
“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 upon 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.” (pre-1995 constitution of the Labour Party – Clause 4, part 4)
We, the undersigned, believe that now is the time to restore Clause 4 to Labour’s constitution.
Clause 4 was Labour’s original commitment to end capitalism and bring about the socialist transformation of society. It was adopted by the Labour Party in 1918, but removed by Tony Blair when he established New Labour.
Under Blair, the party leadership championed PFI and privatisation. Blair’s aim was to destroy the Labour Party as a socialist party. “My vision for New Labour is to become as the Liberal Party was in the nineteenth century,” stated Blair. The removal of Clause 4 was part of this agenda.
Now New Labour is dead. The party has been transformed under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. It is time to bring back bold socialist policies.
Support for nationalisation has been rising. In opinion polls, over 80% support the nationalisation of the utilities and the railways. 50% even agree that we need to take over the banks.
Notably, this backing for nationalisation exists despite the lack of any mass campaign in favour of public ownership, and despite the enormous opposition from the Tory press.
We must learn the lessons of past Labour governments. You cannot plan what you do not control. And you do not control what you do not own.
Labour must not nationalise the losses and privatise the profits. In the past, nationalisation has only been done to bailout bankrupt industries. Massive over-compensation was handed over to the former owners. And management was placed in the hands of bureaucratic boards.
We believe nationalisation should be of the key profitable sectors: the commanding heights of the economy, to use the words of Nye Bevan. Nationalised industries should be run under workers’ control and management.
Today, privatisation has been completely discredited. The current crisis of capitalism is a decade old, with no end in sight.
We need a Labour government committed to fully carrying out the socialist transformation of society, as encapsulated in Clause 4. This would mean “a fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of wealth and power in favour of working people and their families.”
Current campaign supporters and signatories include:
Ken Loach, Film director
Dennis Skinner MP, Labour MP, Bolsover
Ian Mearns MP, Labour MP, Gateshead
Ronnie Campbell MP, Labour MP, Blyth Valley
Ronnie Draper, General Secretary BFAWU
Ian Hodson, President BFAWU
Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary RMT
Linda Douglas, BAME National Committee, UNITE; former Labour NEC member
Paul Holmes, Unison NEC (personal capacity), Wakefield Labour Party
Brendan Kelly, RMT Regional Organiser, South Wales and South West
Perry McMillan, Chair UNITE Cab Section, South East
Cllr Lee Waker, Political Officer East London Postal Branch CWU, Dagenham Labour Party
Cllr Phil Waker, Political Education Officer Dagenham Labour Party
Cllr Josh Lovell, Stevenage Labour Party, Momentum National Group Liaison Officer (personal capacity)
This branch/CLP notes that this year marks the centenary of the adoption of Clause 4 by the Labour Party.
The old Clause 4 pledged to “secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry” based upon “the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange”.
This was Labour’s original commitment to put an end to capitalism and bring about the socialist transformation of society.
This branch/CLP notes that Clause 4 was removed by Tony Blair when he established New Labour. Under Blair, the party leadership championed the disastrous policies of PFI and privatisation.
With the demise of New Labour and the discrediting of privatisation, support for nationalisation has risen sharply. In opinion polls, over 80% support the renationalisation of the utilities and railways. 50% even agree that we need to take over the banks.
The Labour Party has been transformed under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. This branch/CLP therefore believes it is high time to bring back real socialist policies, as embodied in Clause 4.
This branch/CLP calls for the restoration of Clause 4 as part of Labour’s constitution at the earliest opportunity.
[For trade unions: This branch/conference calls upon the union to campaign within the Labour Party at all levels for the restoration of Clause 4 as part of Labour’s constitution at the earliest opportunity.]