The Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) has been one of the most passionate trade union supporters of the Labour4Clause4 campaign.
It was therefore fitting that the campaign visited the BFAWU conference in Southport on 11th June, where union president, Ian Hodson, and others spoke at a fringe meeting on why we need to break with Blairism and restore the original Clause 4.
This famous clause pledged to: “secure for the workers, by hand or by brain, the full fruits of their industry, through the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange”.
These words clearly resonated with conference delegates, with around 40 attending the fringe meeting at the BFAWU conference – the most popular and energetic fringe meeting of the week.
Speakers included: Ian Hodson, BFAWU President; Mike Hogan, from Liverpool Wavertree CLP; and Maciej Krzymieniecki, a young BFAWU conference delegate.
All spoke passionately about the relevance of Clause 4 to today’s crisis-ridden capitalist society, where privatisation and the market have caused nothing but misery for workers and youth.
The collapse of British Steel and the closure of the Bridgend Ford factory, the speakers explained, are only the latest examples of this. That is why we need to bring in nationalisation and workers’ control over production.
Delegates enthusiastically discussed the need to overthrow this dog-eat-dog profit system, in order to carry out Labour’s radical manifesto and provide working-class communities with quality housing, jobs, and public services.
The Labour4Clause4 campaign is extremely grateful for the support that Ian Hodson and BFAWU have offered in the fight to bring back Clause 4. Next step, the Labour Party conference!
Devonshire Labour members discuss Clause 4
Labour Party members from across South Devon met on 13th June outside Plymouth to hear about the ongoing campaign to reinstate the original socialist Clause 4 of Labour’s constitution.
Speaker Steve Jones from Labour4Clause4 introduced the campaign and spoke about the relevance of this clause to today. He explained how Clause 4 came to be part of the Labour constitution in 1918, on the back of the Russian Revolution and the struggle to provide the party with a socialist orientation.
Steve then went on to outline the main issues today, with the growing mood in favour of nationalisation. Privatisation has turned out to be a useless scam, only benefitting a rich few at the expense of the rest of us. Outsourcing has been a disaster. No wonder there is such strong support for public ownership.
However, as Steve explained, we need to avoid the failings of past nationalisations, where industry was left under the management of the same old bosses and bureaucrats. This highlights the importance of socialist planning and workers’ control.
A wide ranging discussion followed, with many questions being raised.
A number of members brought up issues around the need to update the language of Labour’s constitutional aims, in order to appeal to modern voters. In response, another member noted that the original Clause 4 – with its pledge to provide workers with “the full fruits of their industry” – seemed very modern.
One party member talked about the damage done by privatisation to our NHS, something she had seen when visiting Liverpool last year for the Labour conference. Another asked about how workers’ control would apply to today’s precarious working conditions.
In reply, Steve talked about how precarious workers – in places like McDonald’s and Deliveroo – are leading the fight against exploitation and drawing on the historic traditions of workers’ militancy, where workers have become organised through action and struggle.
Steve explained how the time had come for the labour movement to fight for real change. By offering a bold vision of radically transforming society, Labour can pull people – young and old – towards the party and in support of a radical Labour government.
Reinstating the original Clause 4 – and getting rid of the current big business Blairite version – will help in this process by sending a clear message to workers and youth: Labour is a party with clear socialist aims and ambitions.
It was clear from the meeting that there is a great deal of enthusiasm about the prospect of restoring Clause 4. After the meeting, a number of Clause 4 badges and nationalisation pamphlets were sold, and several party members asking to be kept informed about the campaign in the build up to this year’s Labour conference in Brighton.