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An appeal to Labour conference delegates: restore Clause 4!

The Labour4Clause4 campaign extends a warm welcome to all delegates and visitors attending this year’s Labour Party conference in Liverpool.

100 years ago the Labour Party adopted Clause 4, the party’s commitment to a socialist society. That was one of the reasons why the campaign to restore Clause 4 was set up earlier this year.

We haven’t been going long, but we are certainly making waves.

The campaign has succeeded in hitting the headlines of the mainstream press. The launch of the campaign, for example, was reported in a number of papers.

Most notably, in the last week, the campaign’s demands have been reported on again by the Huffington Post, highlighting the fact that CLPs have submitted a constitutional amendment for debate at the 2019 Labour conference. This is of key importance.

Reclaim our party

Fellow delegates! The Labour Party is being transformed following the (double) election of Jeremy Corbyn. But this is only just the beginning. We are determined to reclaim our party, which was taken from us under New Labour. And now we want it back!

Tony Blair abolished Clause 4 and brought in a commitment to the market and capitalism. The Blairite Clause 4 talks of “the enterprise of the market” and the “rigour of competition”. This just means support for capitalism – something any Tory could support.

This is a stain on our movement. It goes against everything the founders of our movement worked for. One of the first resolutions Keir Hardie brought before parliament was a demand for “common ownership”.

Blair and Gaitskell

The Labour right wing said Clause 4 was out of date. We say: with the disaster of privatisation, outsourcing, and the market, these ideas are more relevant today than ever before.

Clause 4 – our commitment to socialism – has always been attacked by the right wing and the apologists of capitalism.

Hugh Gaitskell, a past right-wing leader of the Labour Party, tried to abolish Clause 4 in 1959. But he failed. He also wanted to change the name of the party and break the links with the trade unions. It was a revolt by the rank and file that stopped him.

Tony Blair later partially succeeded where Gaitskell failed. This was part of his campaign to abandon the party’s commitment to socialism. Blair abolished Clause 4 and changed the party’s name to “New Labour”. He was also keen to break the Labour-trade union link.

Delegates, we need your support to right this wrong. We need to bring back the original Clause 4.

Capitalism’s impasse

This is not simply about words.

You may not know this, but Labour Party members have been expelled on the grounds that they refused to support “the enterprise of the market” and the “rigour of competition”.

This is disgusting. This is where Blairism has led us: into a political impasse. It is time we got rid of it completely.

References to Clause 4 have also been submitted as contemporary motions. We hope they will be chosen for debate, despite stiff competition. However, we have heard that most have been ruled out of order by the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) on a technicality.

We assure the CAC that this will not stop us. In fact, we will redouble our efforts to bring the Labour Party back to its socialist roots.

Bring back Clause 4!

Delegates, the original Clause 4 was our historic commitment to socialism: the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, to be run by working people.

At a time of capitalist crisis and the wholesale rejection of privatisation, there has never been a better time to restore Clause 4 as part of the aims of the party.

Next year, Labour conference will be asked to vote on a constitutional amendment – a rule change motion – to bring back the wording of the original Clause 4. We have a year to campaign to get this endorsed.

Fellow Delegates! We appeal to you to please help us.

Please raise this matter in your Labour parties, trade union branches, Labour clubs, Momentum groups, and across the entire labour movement. Invite speakers from Labour4Clause4 to your branches and CLPs. Order copies of our pamphlet on the case for Clause 4 and nationalisation.

Let us fully win the Labour Party back to socialism. Together we can win this.

Contact us today! Come to our fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference on Tuesday evening! Help us build the campaign!