“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.” (pre-1995 constitution of the Labour Party - Clause 4, part 4)
We, the undersigned, believe that now is the time to commit Labour to fight for common ownership and socialism.
Clause 4 was Labour’s original commitment to end capitalism and bring about the socialist transformation of society. It was adopted by the Labour Party in 1918, but removed by Tony Blair when he established New Labour.
Under Blair, the party leadership championed PFI and privatisation. Blair's aim was to destroy the Labour Party as a socialist party. “My vision for New Labour is to become as the Liberal Party was in the nineteenth century,” stated Blair. The removal of Clause 4 was part of this agenda.
At the last Labour Party conference, 62% of local party delegates voted to bring back this original socialist clause. And the Labour NEC committed to a review of the wording of Clause 4 – sweeping Blair’s pro-capitalist clause into the dustbin of history.
We must seize this opportunity to commit the labour movement to fight for common ownership and the socialist transformation of society. With this in mind, we are proposing a new socialist Clause 4 based on the words of the late, great champion of the cause of socialism: Tony Benn.
“We stand for the inherent rights of all people to useful work, good homes, education, health care and dignity in retirement, free from all forms of discrimination. We believe that these rights cannot be fully realised under capitalism where human values are subordinated to the demand for profit. Our aim is to abolish the obstacles to the realisation of those aspirations.
“As a socialist party, we do not exist to manage capitalism. We aim to bring about a fundamental transformation of society, which will give to everyone a chance to live a full and satisfying life. We will adopt the means necessary for that purpose by, amongst other things, the common ownership, under democratic control and management by working people, of the commanding heights of the economy, including the banks and finance houses, the land and all the companies which dominate our economy. We stand for a democratic socialist society based upon the principle from each according to their ability to each according to their need.”
We believe that adopting this constitutional clause would be a fitting tribute to Benn. We need a Labour government committed to fully carrying out the socialist transformation of society.
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