Clause IV

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Clause IV
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{{for|the group in Labour student politics|Clause Four Group}}File:Sidney Webb.jpg|thumb|Sidney Webb, a socialist economist and early member of the Fabian SocietyFabian SocietyClause IV is part of the constitution of the UK Labour Party, which sets out the aims and values of the party. The original clause, adopted in 1918, called for common ownership of industry, and proved controversial in later years, with Hugh Gaitskell attempting to remove the clause after Labour's loss in the 1959 general election. In 1995, under the leadership of Tony Blair, a new Clause IV was adopted. This was seen as a significant moment in Blair's redefinition of the party as "New Labour", but has survived beyond the New Labour branding.


The original version of Clause IV was drafted by Sidney Webb in November 1917, and adopted by the party in 1918.NEWS, The Birth of a Socialist Party,weblink 27 September 2015, Manchester Guardian, 27 February 1918, London, It read, in part 4:{{cquote|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.BOOK, Adams, Ian, Ideology and Politics in Britain Today, 1998, Manchester University Press, 9780719050565, 144–145, illustrated, reprint,weblink 21 March 2015, }}This section was widely seen as the Labour Party's commitment to socialism, even though it is not explicitly mentioned. The Manchester Guardian heralded it as showing "the Birth of a Socialist Party", stating that:In 1918, nationalisation was seen by many voters as akin to modernisation – the nationalisation of the railways was a widely supported policy, for instance, as it would reduce the plethora of uncoordinated and competing companies. This text is usually assumed to involve nationalisation of the whole economy but close reading of the text shows that there are many other possible interpretations. Common ownership, though later given a technical meaning by the 1976 Industrial Common Ownership Act, could mean municipal ownership, worker cooperatives or consumer cooperatives.{{cn|date=July 2016}}In December 1944, the Labour Party adopted a policy of "public ownership"WEB,weblink 1945 Labour Party Election Manifesto, 2007-08-21, 1945,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-03-15, There are basic industries ripe and over-ripe for public ownership and management in the direct service of the nation., yes, and won a clear endorsement for their policies – the destruction of the "evil giants" of want, ignorance, squalour, disease and idleness (identified by William Beveridge in the Beveridge reportWEB, The Labour Government 1945 -51 - The Welfare State,weblink BBC Bitesize Revision, 21 March 2015, ) – in the post-war election victory of 1945 which brought Clement Attlee to power. However the party had no clear plan as to how public ownership would shape their reforms and much debate ensued.The nationalisation was led by Herbert Morrison who had had the experience of uniting London's buses and underground train system into a centralised system in the 1930s. He started with the Bank of England in April 1946, whereby stockholders received compensation and the governor and deputy governor were both re-appointed. Further industries swiftly followed: civil aviation in 1946, and railways and telecommunications in 1947, along with the creation of the National Coal Board, which was responsible for supplying 90% of UK's energy needs. 1946 also saw the establishment of the National Health Service, which came into force in July 1948; railways, canals, road haulage and electricity were all also nationalised in 1948. By 1951, the iron, steel and gas industries had also been brought into public ownership.{{cn|date=July 2016}}

Gaitskell's fight

After losing the 1959 general election, Labour Party leader Hugh Gaitskell came to believe that public opposition to nationalisation had led to the party's poor performance and announced that he proposed to amend Clause IV.
  • BOOK, Tudor Jones, Remaking the Labour Party: From Gaitskell to Blair,weblink 21 September 2005, Routledge, 978-1-134-80132-9, 8,
  • BOOK, David Denver, Justin Fisher, Steve Ludlam, Charles Pattie, British Elections and Parties Review,weblink 18 October 2013, Routledge, 978-1-135-25578-7, 110,
  • BOOK, Keith Barlow, Geoffrey Keith Barlow, The Labour Movement in Britain from Thatcher to Blair,weblink 2008, Peter Lang, 978-3-631-55137-0, 224,
  • BOOK, Robert Leach, Political Ideology in Britain,weblink 1 May 2015, Palgrave Macmillan, 978-1-137-33256-1, 118,
  • BOOK, Matt Beech, The Political Philosophy of New Labour,weblink 2006, I.B.Tauris, 978-1-84511-041-3, 218,
  • BOOK, Alistair Clark, Political Parties in the UK,weblink 13 February 2012, Palgrave Macmillan, 978-0-230-36868-2, 66,
  • BOOK, Are the Lord's Listening?: Creating Connections Between People and Parliament First Report of Session 2008-09: Evidence,weblink 1 June 2007, The Stationery Office, 978-0-10-844466-1, 162,
  • BOOK, Anthony F. Heath, Roger M. Jowell, John K. Curtice, The Rise of New Labour : Party Policies and Voter Choices: Party Policies and Voter Choices,weblink 5 April 2001, OUP Oxford, 978-0-19-152964-1, 106,
  • BOOK, Timothy Heppell, Leaders of the Opposition: From Churchill to Cameron,weblink 27 March 2012, Palgrave Macmillan, 978-0-230-36899-6, 38, The left wing of the party fought back and managed to defeat any change: symbolically, it was then agreed to include Clause IV, part 4, on Labour Party membership cards.NEWS, Gani, Aisha, Clause IV: a brief history,weblink 27 September 2015, The Guardian, 9 August 2015, NEWS, Hill, Alison, The axing of Clause IV: Making Labour safe for capitalism,weblink 27 September 2015, The Socialist, 1 April 2015,
The economic crisis of the 1970s, and the defeats suffered by the trade union movement, as well as the decline in influence of the British Communist Party, led to a strengthening of the position of Labour party members who were opposed to Marxism.

Blair's alteration

(File:Tony_Blair_in_2002.jpg|thumb|right|Tony Blair, Labour leader 1994-2007 and Prime Minister 1997-2007)Tony Blair had in 1993, before becoming Leader of the Labour Party, written a pamphlet for the Fabian Society which criticised the wording of Clause IV for not clearly stating the means and ends of the party.WEB, Donadio, Paolo, Old Clause IV vs. New Clause IV: linguistic / political analysis,weblink, 27 September 2015, Blair put forward a case for defining socialism in terms of a set of values which were constant, while the policies needed to achieve them would have to account for changing society. After becoming Leader, he announced at the conclusion of his 1994 conference speech that the Labour Party needed a new statement of aims and values and that he would draw one up and present it to the party. This astonished many people, as the last time such a move had been taken (by Hugh Gaitskell in the late 1950s), it had been a failure.The new version was adopted at a Special Conference at Easter 1995 after a debate, and reads, in part:{{cquote|The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.}}This version of Clause IV {{as of|2015|alt=currently appears}} on the back of individual Labour Party membership cards today.Presentationally, the abandonment of the socialist principles of the original Clause IV represented a break with Labour's past and, specifically, a break with its 1983 Manifesto (dubbed "the longest suicide note in history", by Gerald Kaufman, one of the party's MPsNEWS,weblink Foot's message of hope to left, Mann, Nyta, 17 August 2003, BBC News, ), in which greater state ownership was proposed.BOOK, Danny Nicol, The Constitutional Protection of Capitalism,weblink 29 January 2010, Bloomsbury Publishing, 978-1-84731-559-5, 95,

Jeremy Corbyn

The {{as of|2018|alt=current leader of the Labour Party}}, Jeremy Corbyn, has been a consistent supporter of renationalising public utilities, such as British Rail and energy companies, to bring them back into public ownership.NEWS, Merrick, Jane,weblink Jeremy Corbyn to 'bring back Clause IV': Contender pledges to bury New Labour with commitment to public ownership of industry, The Independent on Sunday, 9 August 2015, 9 August 2015, London, NEWS, Matt, Dathan, Jon, Stone, The 9 charts that show the 'left-wing' policies of Jeremy Corbyn the public actually agrees with,weblink The Independent, 23 July 2015, 27 July 2015, London, He also ignited controversy within his party when, in an interview with The Independent on Sunday, he said that: "I think we should talk about what the objectives of the party are, whether that’s restoring the Clause Four as it was originally written or it’s a different one, but I think we shouldn’t shy away from public participation, public investment in industry and public control of the railways. I'm interested in the idea that we have a more inclusive, clearer set of objectives. I would want us to have a set of objectives which does include public ownership of some necessary things such as rail". Although this has been seen by some as an endorsement for the reinstatement of the original Clause IV, Corbyn denies this and says that more discussion within his party is needed.NEWS, Perraudin, Frances, Jeremy Corbyn denies he would bring back Labour's nationalising clause IV,weblink 27 September 2015, The Guardian, 9 August 2015, NEWS, Jeremy Corbyn backs greater public ownership for Labour,weblink 27 September 2015, BBC News, 11 August 2015,


On 17 January 2018 a campaign to restore the original Clause IV was launched, following its centenary.NEWS, Labour4Clause4,weblink 27 September 2015, Labour4Clause4, 17 January 2018, London,

Other uses

Clause Four was also the name of a campaigning group within the Labour Party's student wing (now Labour Students), which succeeded in ending its control by the Militant group in 1975. However, the attempt of the Clause Four group to oppose Militant in the Labour Party Young Socialists (LPYS) was a failure, and LPYS was eventually dissolved.{{cn|date=July 2016}}

"Clause Four moment"

The changing of Clause IV was seen by political commentators as the defining moment at which Old Labour became New Labour.WEB, John Rentoul Political Correspondent,weblink `Defining moment' as Blair wins backing for Clause IV - News, The Independent, 1995-03-14, 2013-11-30, Labour's "Clause Four Moment" has subsequently become a metaphor for any need or perceived need for a fundamental recasting of a political party's principles or attitudes. Accordingly, Conservatives such as Douglas Carswell (subsequently an independent MP) have argued that the Conservative Party must similarly undergo its "Clause Four Moment", rejecting past commitments and demonstrating, rhetorically at least, change to the electorate.WEB,weblink Tories have had their 'clause 4 moment', Next Left, 2010-01-16, 2010-01-16, For example, Nigel Farage has called the support for UKIP from Black and Asian British ethnic minority people as "UKIP's Clause IV moment".NEWS, Nigel Farage: Don't Call UKIP A Racist Party,weblink 21 March 2015, Sky News, 8 May 2014, NEWS, Nigel Farage: 'Don't call Ukip a racist party',weblink 21 March 2015, ITV news, 7 May 2014, NEWS, Holehouse, Matthew, Nigel Farage puts ethnic minority Ukip candidates centre stage in bid to kill racism row,weblink 21 March 2015, The Telegraph, 8 May 2014,



Further reading

{{UK Labour Party}}

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