The Labour4Clause4 Roadshow 2019 kicked off in the north east on Saturday 26th January with a well-attended meeting in Bedlington, organised jointly by Wansbeck and Blyth constituency Labour parties.
Speakers included Ian Hodson, president of the bakers’ union and Rob Sewell, national co-ordinator of the Labour4Clause4 campaign. Both outlined the case for the restoration of the original Clause 4.
Ian emphasised the damage that Tony Blair’s rewrite of Labour’s socialist clause had done to the party’s political priorities and to its capacity to inspire working people. Rob, meanwhile, explained the historical development of socialist ideas within the party, the influence of the Russian Revolution, and the relevance of the ideas of socialism today.
A wide-ranging discussion ensued, with many questions raised. In his reply, Rob explained that it was very valuable to discuss Clause 4 in detail, particularly since Blyth CLP will be moving a motion to restore the original Clause 4 at the next Labour Party conference in September this year.
Another day, another town
45 people attended Redcar Momentum’s Labour4Clause4 roadshow meeting the next day, on Sunday 27th January. Present were grassroots members from several constituency Labour parties.
The meeting was marked by a real sense of enthusiasm. Importantly, John Taylor, a member of Momentum’s National Coordinating Group who had helped organise this meeting, explained that he is keen to raise support for the Labour4Clause4 campaign at a national level.
Ian Hodson and Rob Sewell spoke once again, answering several questions from the floor. Rob took up an important question from one party member who asked whether the original Clause 4 needed to be altered, since the wording had been drafted by Fabian reformist Sidney Webb. The comrade also asked whether Clause 4 should include a specific reference to democratic socialism.
Replying to this question, Rob explained that, “just because something is old, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Likewise, just because something is new, it doesn’t make it right. Take New Labour for example!” This got a great response from the audience.
Rob went on to say that there was nothing wrong with adding additional clauses, but that the content of the original Clause 4 gave a clear message, “that if anything is more relevant today than when it was written.”
All-in-all, it was a great weekend for the Labour4Clause4 campaign, helping to launch the 2019 roadshow and raise socialist ideas in the local Labour movement in the north east. This gives us enormous hope of bringing back Clause 4 – Labour’s commitment to socialism.
Collections from the two meetings raised over £100 for the campaign.