Within the last week, a new campaign has been launched called Labour4Clause4, which aims to commit the Labour Party to socialist policies. This campaign calls on local Labour Parties, trade union branches and student societies to endorse it.
We agree with Jeremy Corbyn in 2015 when he said: “I think we should talk about what the objectives of the party are, whether that’s restoring Clause Four as it was originally written or it’s a different one.”
2018 marks the centenary of the adoption of Clause 4, the Labour Party’s commitment to the socialist transformation of society. This Clause states:
“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.”
However, it was abolished by Tony Blair in 1995 when he set up New Labour, with the aim of creating an SDP Mark Two. With the demise of New Labour, it is time Clause 4 was restored as the Labour Party’s main aim.
Today, the situation facing many sections of the working class is dire. Ordinary people have had to put up with years of wage cuts, austerity and reduced living standards. This is a consequence of the crisis of 2008 – the deepest crisis of capitalism since the 1930s. We have still not recovered from this crash. Working people cannot tolerate a return to the conditions of the Great Depression.
There has never been a more relevant time for a socialist programme to answer these ills of capitalist crisis. There has never been a more relevant time for the socialist commitment of Clause 4.
The scandal of privatisation reveals itself more and more with each passing day. As a result, support for the nationalisation of our basic industries has become increasingly popular.
The Legatum Institute, a think-tank, and Populus recently found levels of support for nationalising large parts of the economy. The figures reported would have been hard to believe a few years ago.
The big four industries should all return to public ownership, according to a strong majority of respondents. Water topped the poll (83%), followed by electricity (77%), gas (77%) and the railways (76%). 50% even believe that the banks should be nationalised. And this is all without any mass campaign from the top. With a real campaign to explain the benefits of a socialist planned economy, we would see support rise even further.
Today, millions are looking to Labour to undo the damage of the Tories and their system; to right the wrongs inflicted on working people. Labour must reverse all Tory cuts.
We say a Labour government can no longer afford to patch up the crisis-ridden capitalist system. Every Labour government since 1924 has shown that this does not work.
There is an old adage: “you can’t plan, what you don’t control, and you don’t control what you don’t own.” That is why Clause 4 is so vital.
If a new Labour government is going to solve the problems of working people, then it will need to take bold measures and take control of the economy out of the hands of big business.
Labour must take over the “commanding heights of the economy”. This means immediately nationalising the banks, financial institutions, the land, transport, the utilities, post and telecommunications, construction, and the remaining giant monopolies that control the economy. These should be run under democratic workers’ control and management. We should not pay a penny in compensation to the fat cats.
Such a measure would mean “a fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of wealth and power in favour of working people and their families”, to quote the Labour Manifesto of 1974.
We pledge to campaign to secure these socialist aims and to commit a Labour government to carry them out in full. That is why this message must be urgently taken up in every Labour Party, trade union and student body.
Please sponsor the campaign and help promote it.
And finally, please also let us know about any campaigning successes, so that we can report them here.