Ed Miliband should get rid of Labour’s Clause I


8:55 am - June 27th 2011

by Paul Cotterill    


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I am quite taken with Sunny’s recent notion that Ed Miliband need more ‘stunts’ to raise his profile:

Ed Milband says he hates stunts – he’s just not that kind. I agree. But the pendulum has swung too far the other way – he needs to avoid looking too invisible. And a flurry of speeches alone won’t do the job – he needs symbolism.

Miliband seems to be trying precisely that with his Shadow Cabinet election-removal controversy thing, but that just makes him seem inward-looking; no-one beyond the Westminster Village really cares. So here’s something else to rival Blair’s Clause IV moment. It’s Miliband’s Clause I moment.

Currently, Clause I para. 1 reads:

This organisation shall be known as ‘The Labour Party’. Its purpose is to organise and maintain in Parliament and in the country a political Labour Party.

This is a rubbish clause.

Saying we run a Labour party in order to have a Labour party is pretty feeble as an opening statement.

I recommend that the circularity inherent in this statement be removed, and a firmer commitment be made to those who actually benefit, or should benefit, from the existence and activities of the Labour party.

Something like the following may fit the bill, though of course the exact wording should be a matter for debate:

This organisation shall be known as ‘The Labour Party’ Its purpose is to contribute significantly to the economic, social and psychological well-being of the people of Britain, and where possible the wider world, and in particular those people who suffer systematic disadvantage.

Like Blair’s Clause IV change, the power of such a change is in the symbolism.

As Sunny rightly says, Labour wasn’t realistically going to nationalize ASDA if Clause IV stayed around, but Blair changed it to make it look like he’d changed the party all by himself. Miliband can do the same with this clause.

First, the change sets out a clear message that the Labour party does not exist simply for its own sake, and that it has a clear sense of who should benefit from what it does (while being wide enough to allow of different political principles and mechanisms for the achievement of that benefit).

Second, it moves the objects of the party closer to those that might be expected of a charity or non-profit organization. The Labour party needs to develop a more modern organizational form and culture, if it is to become the party of political and community organization.

Third, it is a clear statement that the party is moving away from its overwhelming concentration on electoral campaigning and towards a party which both sees community and political organization as synonymous, and is confident that electoral success will follow as a consequence of its grassroots work.


The above is drawn from my Re-founding Labour submission.

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About the author
Paul Cotterill is a regular contributor, and blogs more regularly at Though Cowards Flinch, an established leftwing blog and emergent think-tank. He currently has fingers in more pies than he has fingers, including disability caselaw, childcare social enterprise, and cricket.
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Reader comments


‘This organisation shall be known as ‘The Labour Party’ Its purpose is to contribute significantly to the economic, social and psychological well-being of the people of Britain, and where possible the wider world, and in particular those people who suffer systematic disadvantage.’

The thing is that if this is the first clause of the Labour Party constitution then people might expect some sort of concrete policy to flow from it.

If you’re going to have this why not just rewrite the whole Labour party constitution?

Take this clause –

‘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.’

Which replaced this –

‘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.’

The first one still seems too concrete, and refers to democratic socialism, leaving it open to people interpreting the Labour party to be democratic or socialist both of which I imagine people would query.

And clause 2 section 3 still allows socialist groups to affiliate to the Labour party. Should the party hierachy leave themselves open to charges of Leftism?

The whole Labour party constitution could be reformed to be more corporate. In fact the first five clauses could be dropped in favour of a suitably lofty mission statement that sounds good but which in now way gives any firm ideological principles that could later prove embarrassing to ditch.

@1 Ben

“…..in favour of a suitably lofty mission statement that sounds good but which in now way gives any firm ideological principles that could later prove embarrassing to ditch.”

I think you’ll find the bird has already flown the coop on that score Ben; after 13 years of New Labour, it will take a lot of convincing that Labour has any principles left. Navel gazing about the part constitution is probably less important than actually coming up with something like a coherent platform that doesn’t just look like a lite version of Coalition policy, or (just as bad) a rehash of Blairism/Brownism.

We’ve been wating 13 months….. so far the signs aren’t exactly encouraging are they?

“Third, it is a clear statement that the party is moving away from its overwhelming concentration on electoral campaigning and towards a party which both sees community and political organization as synonymous, and is confident that electoral success will follow as a consequence of its grassroots work.”

I am unconvinced by these Refounding Labour submissions (this one and Rowenna’s) from people who I respect which would seem to have the effect of turning Labour into a not very effective voluntary and community organisation.

There’s all sorts of things that Labour could learn from other civil society organisations (starting with better ways of fundraising), but I fundamentally disagree that Labour has a problem of too much concentration on electoral campaigning – at present Labour doesn’t do enough electoral campaigning and needs to devote more time and resources to this in order to win the next election.

I think that more, and more effective, electoral campaigning is one of the most effective kinds of community development. Once we’ve got that right, it will highlight where we need other ways of working to achieve social change, but for the moment let’s stick with Clause 1, which basically means “the point of the Labour Party is to win elections”.

“The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which noone shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.”

That’s the very first thing written in the Lib Dem constitution. I don’t see why Labour shouldn’t also lay out it’s main purpose as the very first thing in its constitution.

Of course, you could always question whether you need to have a constitution of this type at all – even if it is modern and relevant now, in fifteen years time it probably won’t be. So do you really want to have to continually focus on internal fighting to deal with this?

I know there are advantages to a constitution, but as the US experience with guns shows, there are serious disadvantages to writing something down and finding out in a different context that it is actually insane. The danger of creating something ‘progressive’ (sorry if this is an unfair characterisation) now is that it appears regressive in the future, the same way clause IV did to those viewing it from outside.

Exactly, when clause IV was written nationalisation was seen as the key to modernising industry.

I think everyone will agree that since the railways were privatised they’ve become cheaper, more efficient and have an enviable safety record. Privatised utilities have delivered us ever cheaper bills for basics like heating our homes, and privatising hospital cleaning services has delivered cleaner hospitals.

And all of this has happened while delivering bumper profits to share holders.

“being wide enough to allow of different political principles and mechanisms”

Wide enough, in fact, to allow for anything at all. Be honest – you want to formalise the transition to a party brand as meaningful as the team names on the Apprentice.

@4 George

“That’s the very first thing written in the Lib Dem constitution. I don’t see why Labour shouldn’t also lay out it’s main purpose as the very first thing in its constitution.”

Possibly because a party which has just fiarly spectacularly imploded isn’t seen as a great role model?

For the best part of a generation the SDP, Alliance and then LD’s were successively seen by a section of left of centre opinion as a prospective force for a radical and progressive overhaul of the British political system.

In a scant 13 months of going into an ill-advised Coalition they have fallen from almost a quarter to arounf 10% of the popular vote, contributed by their decisions to the defeat of electoral reform for a generation or two, and alienated (probably permanently) a large section of their former report.

Fine words are one thing……. following them up with the most politically gullible decisions in generations are another.

@6 Ben 2

All the things you say can be true, and yet still not deliver the optimum outcomes.

Privatisation of the railways is now widely regarded (even by the Thatcherite ultras who carried it out) as having been a buggers muddle; the wrong system, providing mediocre outcomes, and allowing a certain section of the population to enrich themselves, whilst delivering a railway system which is still in many respects decades out of date and short of investment.

The problem with statements like yours is that it ignores the context. Of course things needed to change, the problem is that the way they were done was often kack handed, over complicated, or just plain daft.

Ben 2,

I’d point out that Clause IV was seen as a major vote loser in the 1990s, because it committed Labour to something like the 1983 manifesto.

Losing it did not mean you could not nationalise, just that you did not have to where things worked better without (try telephones for example).

As for the botched rail ‘privitisation’, anything that regulated and controlled by the state, with almost no competition on any particular line or route (there is just about competition from the largest city to the second largest city for God’s sake), is clearly crap. It is hardly a model or argument for anything other than never letting John Major run a government (wierdly, we actually let him do that. I’d say sorry, but I was too young to vote).

[1] I accept willingly enough that other parts of the constitution would benefit from a rewrite, but i’m making a point here about ‘symbolism’, in keeping with Sunny’s view that Ed Miliband need this kind of event to develop profile. It is, needless (I would hope) to say) only one of very many points I make in my Refounding Labour submission, most of which deal with much more substantive issues of strucutre and culture.

{3} Don, I think we do have different emphases here, and I think some of it may simply boil down to differing interpretations of what we call organisation and what we call electoral campaigning. We both know that they interrelate, but I suspect I come from an area where there has been less (or no) interrelation, and therefore feel the need to stress the need for substance (as in actually doing something about what you hear on doorsteps etc).

Your campaign experience is in really good Labour campaign/organisation areas where this kind of stuff is understood to the extent that it doesn’t need setting out explictly; most of us do not live in those areas.

You are more or less right though when you say that I argue that the LP should start to identify itself as a great big VCS organisation, with all the lines of accountablity that go with that (that’s a feature iof my RL submission). What I also add into the mix is the need to develop ‘Modern Trade Councils’ as one of the key operational structures.

[5, 6]. I agree that constitutions are not the be all and end all, and changing clause 1 won’t change the party overnight. As I said above, this is about symbolism. That’s why my post referred directly to Sunny’s words.

[7] That’s just silly abuse.

12. David Boothroyd

This is getting to be a bit of an ahistorical discussion. This clause dates from 1918. It needs to be realised that long before the Labour Party existed, indeed before the Labour Representation Committee existed, it was quite routine to refer to a ‘Labour Party’ in Parliament meaning all those MPs who came from a working background. A ‘Labour Party’ means a party representing the interests of those who work for their living. A ‘political Labour Party’ means that this party will be doing other things beyond the merely mechanical defence of the interests of workers. What that means is defined in Clause IV of the constitution.

One of the problems with Clause I is that it was written at a point when a Labour government did not seem a realistic possibility (although it was in fact less than six years away). If rewriting Clause I then the best thing to do would be to write into it the way that a Labour administration should behave – in UK government, devolved assemblies, and local government.

Creating a symbolic ‘clause 4 moment’ is all well and good, but doing so by abolishing the clause which actually names the organisation is not the way to do it.

This proposal may work fine for Labour supporters, but given the media’s anti-Labour stand point, the way it would be reported would make the party look (even more) like a laughing stock.

@13 Simon Francis

Although I can see your point to an extent, and think you’d have to guard against the dangers of being seen as out of touch, navel gazing etc., there is a case to be made for doing something like this, but only if it is in parallel with moves to de-toxify the brand much more effectively than Ed’s lacklustre efforts thus far.

Most of the press are already against you anyway, and if the past couple of decades have taught you anything it ought to be that you shouldn’t be too hidebound by focus groups and trying to kow-tow to Murdoch and his like.

There is a constituency of anti-coalition, left of centre, progressive voters out there…. but they aren’t going to vote Labour unless the party can come up with a more coherent, progressive vision that distances them from both the Coalition and New Labour.

We’re still waiting.

15. donpaskini

“I think we do have different emphases here, and I think some of it may simply boil down to differing interpretations of what we call organisation and what we call electoral campaigning”

Probably true. It’s also about different priorities for allocating resources, though. I think the priorities should go something like:

Every penny available into building up local campaign organisation to run effective election campaigns based on the campaigning approach which worked well in 2010, starting with the marginals and widening out as resources/opportunities become available.

Then, once every area is running modern campaigns, move on from there to address some of these other issues and develop new ways of working, based on learning about the limitations of intensive campaigning as a means of effecting social change. A difference of emphasis, rather than a difference of principle.

I think that trying to turn the Labour Party into a great big VCS organisation along the lines of your RL submission has potentially terrifying risks in the current context where some local parties refuse to spend money on printing election leaflets because their priority is to maximise their bank balance. Much rather get them doing the basics right and then they will have the capacity for some of the more far reaching changes.

@ 14 Galen10

Agree completely, but while we don’t to be in hock to the Murdoch’s, we also need to ensure we don’t give the media any open goals. They won’t fail to score!

Clause I was written when the Labour party was the party of the working class though, it was the party of ‘Labour’ which is why there are historical hold overs like the Co-operative party.

I don’t think anyone could describe Labour as being a party of ‘Labour’ anymore, so a more corporate structure and an ideology free mission statement fits what the party is, basically a corporate advocacy organisation that a bunch of lefties hang round for reasons they can’t adequately explain.

I think Labour will find the same solution to the issue of members and how inconvenient they are as the Tories, simply pay people to do campaigning and party work.Corporate donations are where the money is, and once they reach a certain level most of the members can leave and not be missed, which is likely to be preferable to having them hanging round and wittering on about socialism or social justice or other things that put people off. Lord Sainsbury doesn’t want to hear about raising the minimum wage, he wants to here how you are going to relax planning laws as they apply to his company. People care about issues that effect them, and social justice is too abstract a concept.

The future for Labour is in being the most left wing of the right wing parties, and everyone politically on the left or centre not feeling they have any choice but to vote Labour to stop the Tories getting in. It isn’t a mass movement anymore and doesn’t need to associate itself with the working class. Breaking the link by rewriting the constitution to remove the mention of things like socialism or any historical detritus is one step towards making that clear.

18. blackwillow1

Why have any clauses at all? What’s wrong with simply stating your position, putting down in writing a contract, so to speak, that makes clear your intentions, both in government and opposition. If Labour did more within the communities that elected Labour MPs, the bond would be strengthened. If they did more within the communities that did not elect a Labour MP, that would give those people a reason to look more closely at what Labour do, also, to look more closely at what the person they did elect is actually doing for the community. It’s no good just highlighting the failings of elected tory/libdem MPs, you have to offer a viable alternative that addresses the needs and concerns of the people, regardless of wether they voted for you or not.

Ben2: ‘The whole Labour party constitution could be reformed to be more corporate.’

It always confuses me why people who quite clearly have no interest in the historic traditions of the Labour Party have such an interest in first joining it, and then later reforming it to fit their politics. Why not just join one of those parties that is already ‘more corporate’?

Liberals within the Labour Party would make sense if there wasn’t a Liberal Party, but there is… So?

#17 is funny, ironic, insightful etc., etc. However when, Ben, you say: ‘I don’t think anyone could describe Labour as being a party of ‘Labour’ anymore’ – I think that you forget that the Labour Party still gets the majority of its funding from organised labour. Working people use their collective resources to fund one party, while all the rest are free to secure as much corporate funding as they wish. To break this, and to make them all corporate funded, would be a very sorry day for democracy – the final nail in the coffin of working class representation.

Hurrah for the left-liberals! You were of more use as enemies…

@19

“To break this, and to make them all corporate funded, would be a very sorry day for democracy – the final nail in the coffin of working class representation.”

Plenty of people (not just those outside Labour) think it is the current system which is a sorry excuse for democracy. If a more truly democratic system is what you truly want, then parties should be funded by the state, and donations from the public and companies should be limited to reasonable amounts, and be totaly transparent.

Few people take Labour’s residual claims to being the party that represents the working class seriously, or actually think that somehow reinforcing the concept will lead either to electoral success or to the creation of a party equipped to tackle the challenges of the future. It would instead be an electoral and ideological cul-de-sac.

Ben2 is right, the Labour party, or perhaps what replaces it, along with other left of centre parties, needs to make it’s pitch as being the core of the movement that will stop the Tories / centre-right from getting in.

No party has a divine right to power, or to carry on indefinately if it ceases to serve a useful function. Labour is perilously close to that position, and should beware of a complacent assumption that it will naturally be the prime candidate to replace the Coalition. The result of the Holyrood elections (whilst not directly applicable to the UK national picture) should serve as a warning to those within New/Newer Labour that moving the deckchairs around is no longer an option.

Galen 10,

Ben2 is right, the Labour party, or perhaps what replaces it, along with other left of centre parties, needs to make it’s pitch as being the core of the movement that will stop the Tories / centre-right from getting in.

Ignoring the problem of taxpayer-funded political parties (a totatalitarian’s wet dream), are you sure that a movement defined as ‘not the Tories’ is a sensible idea. Voters are grown ups, and are not going to vote for you (except when the Conservatives have run out of steam every 15 years or so) if that is all you can offer as a message.

Perhaps the lack of clear purpose is the problem here – Labour does not seem to know what defines it. That is why you have leaders (and the ability to replace them), but this seems to be part of the problem – no-one at the top of Labour has had any real vision of what the party is for since Mr Blair’s went east (to Iraq…). The solution to this is probably not (from an outsider’s perspective) to try and tie some committee-assembled statement of purpose into your very makeup, but rather to find a way of presenting your mission (whatever it might be at the time) to the public in an appealing way – whatever you think of Mr Blair, he was good at this (in a way no Labour leader since perhaps Harold Wilson could manage).

Either with the constitution or without it, Labour will rely on a strong leader to press their message across. I’d say it would be easier for a leader to be that strong without the constitution.

@21 Watchman

I’d take parties that were part tax-payer funded, and part funded by declared donations from the public, over the current system any day. Having big business and organised labour funding parties might have seemed acceptable generations ago, but in the 21st century it just looks ridiculous.

I’m not particularly advocating that the answer for those on the centre-left is just being just “not the Tories”, although I think it is at least arguable that in Scotland it seems to have worked pretty well for the SNP, as Labour were increasingly identified as not left of centre enough, and not addressing the issues that “ordinary” voters felt passionately about.

I know people will point out the dangers of reading too much into how far you can apply the Scottish experience, but it IS suggestive in as much as the SNP outflanked the Scottish Labour party from the left.

I take your point about Blair… however much you hate the guy and all he stood for. The lack of anyone in Newer Labour with enough charisma to fight their way out of a we paper bag is worrying.

I think not the Tories is pretty much the only thing Labour has going for it. Many of the current governments policies are merely continuations of Labour policies, they are pro-cuts, quite a number are anti democratic reforms, the party is generally very pro big business. It is very much like the Liberal Party of the late 1800s pre WWI.

There is no coherent positive message Labour can offer, because it’s policies by necessity focus on concentrating wealth and influence at the top of society, but offering band aids to the middle and working classes to keep them quiet. Eventually we’ll get to a situation where there are gated communities and compounds for the super rich, a nervous middle class and a vast and despised underclass who live hand to mouth (in short a return to the sort of wealth inequalities seen in the Victorian era, a golden era in British history).

The cuts agenda is a difficult sell, because all main parties agree the poor should pay the price, and that even just enforcing the tax laws we have is pointless, which turns it into a problem of presentation. Attacking the welfare state, the disabled or other minority groups helps sell this, and while we’ve seen plenty we’re likely to see much more.

This is where the problem of party members comes in, because they’ll witter on about how closing sheltered housing for the disabled is wrong, or turning homeless shelters over to property developers to make a profit out of is somehow bad. The Tories rely more and more on paid activists to do the work party members used to do for free and as the liberals shed members but gain corporate sponsors it looks inevitable they will do the same. While the Labour party is happy to take donations from unions because they don’t have to do anything in return, I expect we’ll see a further attack on unions as they fight a doomed battle to protect the living standards of the working class, a struggle the Labour party will oppose whenever it is in their political short term interest. As unions crumble from losing struggles, mass redundancies among unionised work forces and the casualisation of labour even if we don’t see further anti-union legislation, they will have less money to bank roll the Labour party and soliciting corporate donations will be of even greater importance.

By positioning themselves as a centre right (just to the left of the Tories) party, and being tough on crime, immigration, scroungers (the disabled, unemployed, single parents, etc), which supports foreign adventures for the armed forces, which emphasises the good points of Empire and glosses over things like slavery, or the Mau Mau uprising, the Labour party can still win elections against a party with similar policies but taken to the next level. There is no left or centre parties in the UK, and Labour must be sure to stifle any that might come into being.

The only real threat to Labour, whether ruling alone or in coalition with the Lib Dems or Tories, is the possibility of working class movements emerging. So far these have been stifled, mainly through running the organisations like the TUC that are the focal point for working class action and then making sure anything is fragmented, uncoordinated and not followed up, like the March for the Alternative.

For the Labour party as it exists now the threat is not the Tories, with whom they agree 90% of the time, but organisations like TUSC and the trade union movement. Undermining opposition to the cuts will be the key plank of the Labour program for this parliament, the key is to present it as ‘reasonable compromise’ and ‘somewhere in the middle’.

The problem is how to present this while milking the cuts for electoral gain, as ‘Labour cuts good, Tory cuts bad’ doesn’t speak to the base. So what we’ll see is a lot of talk about specific things, about how evil the Tories are, followed by a lack of any organised opposition to the Tory program.

A very valid question would be should it even be called the Labour party anymore? Surely that is an anachronism? If the Lib dems fragment and get absorbed by Labour and the Tories, as seems a reasonable possibility, why not call it the Liberal Party?

It isn’t a party of ‘Labour’ but it is a party of ‘Liberal’ economic policies, so it would certainly fit better. The Labour party could be airbrushed out of British politics then, I know Blair has stated he believes the Labour party should never have been formed, Labour should simply have joined the Liberal party of the time, and this way the logical conclusion of his vision, a single free market progressive party of the centre right containing what used to be Labour and the Lib Dems, would become a reality.

@23 Ben2

“For the Labour party as it exists now the threat is not the Tories, with whom they agree 90% of the time, but organisations like TUSC and the trade union movement. ”

I fear all that amounts to is a dialogue of despair Ben. The only type of organisation which can succeed (like it or not) is a political party. Whether that party is the Labour party is the $64000 question. Trade Union membership is not important enough for vast swathes of the British working population.

I agree with a lot of the other posts about the importance of engaging with people locally, and showing them that a party can make a difference, but that still doesn’t automatically equate with people voting for you in a GE. Voters can love what you do locally, respect and/or like a local candidate, but still vote for someone else based on other non-local issues.

Labour, or anybody else for that matter, has to convince enough of the electorate that it can come up with aplatform which is different enough from that you discuss above, which promotes equality better whilst ensuring that there isn’t an economic meltdown. Difficult, yes. Impossible…. probably not.

Of course you’ll get the right wing and the media, and the New Labour “bitter einders” wailing and gnashing their teeth…. but they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I don’t think engaging with people locally really matters. Communities are quite fragmented and the policies of the three main parties are about fragmenting them further.

Presentation and the media is key, especially in a situation where the three main parties are 90% the same. Policy differences have little relevance at this point.

This is where electing Ed Milliband rather than David was a mistake. David was Rupert Murdoch’s choice, someone he could do business with, and the futile gesture of defiance by the Labour party in electing Very Slightly Pink Ed will likely mean an additional term in opposition.

Ben2,

A very valid question would be should it even be called the Labour party anymore? Surely that is an anachronism? If the Lib dems fragment and get absorbed by Labour and the Tories, as seems a reasonable possibility, why not call it the Liberal Party?

Because there is a Liberal Party in existence still?

Or because it would do such damage to the meaning of the word in English (not US English…) that it would be impossible – a liberal party has to be liberal about economy as well as personal freedom, and the current Labour party manages neither very well. It is more Social Democratic – so SDP is free…

28. Margin4error

Can I suggest clause one is fine as it is in terms of what it means. It is only that because the english language has changed that it needs updating.

Rephrase it to…

“This organisation shall be known as ‘The Labour Party’. Its purpose is to organise and maintain in Parliament and in the country, representation of the working people of the country.”

And that would mean exactly the same as the original statement – but in terms that modern people understand.

And yes, I know Labour is now a middle class party with an upper-middle class leadership and all that – but that’s not a reason to give up on the principle of opening up politics to the working people of this country. It is, rather, a reason to remind the party why it formed.

M4e,

I am not sure working people means the same as Labour did – but the formulation is probably better suited to a world where a fair chunk of Labour support is in fact clearly middle class.

But if you open it up to working people they’ll a) want to participate beyond leaflet delivering and b) want some concessions towards their interests.

Are you suggesting depriving some grandee’s child of their rightful safe seat in the Labour heartland in favour of some sort of local ordinary joe who didn’t even go to private school?

The strength of the current PLP is it’s lack of ties to the working class. If necessarily they will oppose something in the morning and then vote for the very same thing in the afternoon. The New Labour project has got the number of MPs who care about working class issues down to less than 20 now, and what you’re suggesting could take the party back to the bad old days of the Iraq war vote, where fortunately the Tories helped make sure Blair carried the day, when large numbers of MPs rebelled against the government line.

31. Margin4error

Watchman

That’s exactly my point. the terminology has changed dramatically over the generations – though the core principle behind it is just as valid now.

Most people go to work for a boss – and are thus what would once have been labour. That many of us now do so in smart suits doesn’t mean we are not labour.

Indeed while the party is increasingly run by upper-middle class people who have never worked outside the westminster bubble – the country is crying out for decision-makers who know what the real world is like for the other 90% of us.

They are both poor.

How about:

This organisation shall be known as ‘The Labour Party’, but may re-brand itself from time to time. Its purpose is to provide associated unions with a unified voice in Parliament to represent their members.

This is the essence of what sets Labour apart from other political parties. If defines what the party is in the most succinct way possible.

I know labour has tried to distance itself from unions in recent years but unless they go to a one member one vote system, it’s re-branding is nothing more than a smoke screen.

33. Paul Newman

One reason for not calling it the Liberal party is that it is the most illiberal Party of the three.Details , details eh…
From lefty perspective this is a good idea. “Labour” is a poor description of the core support. Relatively few people define themselves as working class still fewer regard it as a worthy ambition to stay working clas .If you were to modernise its moniker embracing modern leftish opinion it should be something like this

“This Immigrant, State Dependent and Guardian Reading Party Of the North and Celtic Fringe ”
Catchy aint it ?

Ed Miliband can do and say whatever he wants at the moment, he’s Labour’s William Hague without the sense of humour or the common touch.

He’s secretly thankful that Nick Clegg has been demonised so that he isn’t the national laughing stock. He’s there on the sufferance of the unions who stitched up his elder brother to allow for another leadership coup in exactly the same way as Brown took over from Blair and they’ll engineer Miliband’s disposal as soon as soon as Balls has him snookered.

Just like the tory grandees waited for the reformist Hague to fail so they could replace him with Howard, Labour’s union bosses are waiting for Miliband to fail so they can replace him with Balls.

Miliband knows it’s coming but he’s totally dependant and until then he’s stuck making empty gestures trying to preserve any career he thinks he can salvage. More stunts? Maybe he should wear a baseball cap on a rollercoaster!

But if he had any self-respect he’d attempt to gain some credibility by joining forces with his brother and lead a new ‘gang of four’ to refound the SDP and supplant the LibDems as the the realistic coalition partner Labour will need after they don’t win a majority – just like everyone knows they’d really prefer. At best Miliband is junior minister material, which says a lot about the talent on Labour benches. He should move or move over.

Labour has a serious problem that everyone can see they’re riven from top to bottom with factional infighting between nonentities while they’re up to their eyes in debt trying to shore up the desperately rotten foundations of their tammany hall organisation.

If they don’t voluntarily choose to take serious action now it’ll be forced upon them in a few years time when the economic cycle will start to favour the current coalition and their underperforming local government base withers further (measured by votes to membership Labour is the 6th most successful party in the country, and this is at a relative high point).

Will they take decisive action?

Of course not, they’ll just keep papering over the cracks hoping against hope that nobody holds them accountable for the damage they’re doing to the political system as they slide down the slope into authoritarian tyrrany and wholesale corruption. If Labour ever wins an election without taking the necessary steps the jubilation will be heard in hell as they drag the rest of us into the abyss with them.

The worry isn’t a Hague moment for Miliband, it’s whether it will prevent or precipitate Ed Balls turning into Labour’s Michael Howard.

@6
“I think everyone will agree that since the railways were privatised they’ve become cheaper, more efficient and have an enviable safety record”

Which railway system are you looking at? Since privatisation, Britains railways have become more expensive (tickets are more expensive, and subsidy has trebled in real terms), less efficienct (in 1994 BR was the most efficient system in Europe – in 2009 our railways are surpassed by many other european systems – mostly in public hands) and the safety record of the railways has only improved AFTER the privately owned Railtrack (Hatfield, Potters Bar, Southall) was turned into the publicly owned Network Rail.

36. James Dixon

This won’t work…

No one would get up to defend the original Clause I – it would be spin over substance and transparently apeing Blair.

The ‘Clause IV moment’ was successful because it changed public perceptions of the Labour Party not because it changed the party’s constitution.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. richardbrennan

    Ed Miliband should get rid of #Labour’s Clause I | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/ZVtfY6D via @libcon

  2. Joshua G B Hardy

    http://t.co/Zk15mfd Pretty good idea

  3. Jackart

    But the Labour party does exist only for itself. Clause one is therefore true, not an anachronism. http://t.co/potvvoZ

  4. bill bold

    RT: Ed Miliband should get rid of Labour’s Clause I: http://ht.ly/5rp5p

  5. June Russell

    RT @RichardJMurphy: Ed Miliband should get rid of Labour’s Clause I | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/OuQsboA

  6. Joe Abel

    http://bit.ly/qHMZXa Labour Party Constitutional Geekery is my favourite form of socialist trainspotting.

  7. Paul Cotterill

    Also thanks to @sunny_hundal for the 'Ed Miliband should get rid of Labour's Clause I' cross post back in June http://t.co/OgikGTT

  8. sunny hundal

    Guardian reporting @Ed_Miliband ditching Clause 1 http://t.co/ksUpBRP Good! @bickerrecord called for this recently http://t.co/4irND0T

  9. sunny hundal

    Guardian reporting @Ed_Miliband ditching Clause 1 http://t.co/ksUpBRP Good! @bickerrecord called for this recently http://t.co/4irND0T

  10. Nicola Chan

    Guardian reporting @Ed_Miliband ditching Clause 1 http://t.co/ksUpBRP Good! @bickerrecord called for this recently http://t.co/4irND0T

  11. Nicola Chan

    Guardian reporting @Ed_Miliband ditching Clause 1 http://t.co/ksUpBRP Good! @bickerrecord called for this recently http://t.co/4irND0T

  12. Jason Mcintyre

    Guardian reporting @Ed_Miliband ditching Clause 1 http://t.co/ksUpBRP Good! @bickerrecord called for this recently http://t.co/4irND0T

  13. Ed Miliband and the Clause 1 change: straight from the TCF submission « Though Cowards Flinch

    […] Hain and Co took this part of our submission seriously (perhaps via Liberal Conspiracy’s kind cross-post).  Funny that they’ve not been in contact with us, mind. Share […]

  14. Talal Rajab

    Guardian reporting @Ed_Miliband ditching Clause 1 http://t.co/ksUpBRP Good! @bickerrecord called for this recently http://t.co/4irND0T

  15. Alex Braithwaite

    Guardian reporting @Ed_Miliband ditching Clause 1 http://t.co/ksUpBRP Good! @bickerrecord called for this recently http://t.co/4irND0T

  16. The Urbanite

    Also thanks to @sunny_hundal for the 'Ed Miliband should get rid of Labour's Clause I' cross post back in June http://t.co/OgikGTT

  17. The Urbanite

    so @bickerrecord was first to call for clause I change http://t.co/kuqPEh3 some good reasons why here http://t.co/AJZuMxY

  18. David Taylor

    Guardian reporting @Ed_Miliband ditching Clause 1 http://t.co/ksUpBRP Good! @bickerrecord called for this recently http://t.co/4irND0T

  19. Simon Mapp

    Guardian reporting @Ed_Miliband ditching Clause 1 http://t.co/ksUpBRP Good! @bickerrecord called for this recently http://t.co/4irND0T





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