Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Clause Four Moment”.

with 5 comments

Worth Reading Again. 

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that when socialist ideas appear to have a real possibility of gaining political influence in the United Kingdom the anti-left and anti-socialist liberal media is never in want of a response.”

Tales about Trotksyist, Green, Tory and Communist entryists joining or becoming sympathisers of the Labour Party have run, and run and run.

Most people will wonder what reaction those who, in their tens of thousands, have become members of the Labour Party, or signed up , will have.

No doubt they will not all welcome being the object of suspicion.

Or, those, who, like myself, have helped Labour out in a small way for several years during local elections, enjoy thinking that they may be the subject of an intensive investigation into our political affiliations.

But this is nothing to what is about to come with the latest news about Corbyn’s support for a new look at  Clause Four.

We had a flavour of what’s in store yesterday.

* (who believes in charging people to enter public museums) in the Guardian (Labour centrists like me aren’t cynics: we’re the truly ethical wing of the left)  evoked his personal memories of actually existing socialism.

He mentioned, “soup swimming with sausage fat in the decaying hostel of the Komsomol..”.gruel ladelled out from huge tubs at Moscow airport and bought a drink at a shop where there were separate tills for each of the small range of commodities.”

The arts editor of the liberal paper observes, “I was seeing pure socialism – and everyone I met was exploding with joy to escape from it.”

A “serious and committed Marxist” in his student years, who tried to find “kulaks” in the English Civil War (why, one might possibly  ask?) sums up his critique of Corbyn, “I can’t help thinking today’s bold neo-Marxist concepts like “the 1%” and “austerity” are equally unmoored from real lives. Indeed Greece has already found out what anti-austerity means in practice.”

So that’s been told. Austerity is a “neo-Marxist concept”.

No prizes for guessing how Jones and his friends will react to today’s news.

Jeremy Corbyn to ‘bring back Clause IV’: Contender pledges to bury New Labour with commitment to public ownership of industry

“Corbyn reveals that he wants to reinstate Clause Four, the hugely symbolic commitment to socialism scrapped under Tony Blair 20 years ago, in its original wording or a similar phrase that weds the Labour Party to public ownership of industry.

“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.”

Independent on Sunday. 

The original Clause Four was drafted by the Fabian Sidney Webb. It was adopted by the Labour Party in 1918.

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 idea that public ownership should follow one pattern of government appointed boards with only indirect  Parliamentary control  – what is known as Morrisonian nationalisation – was far from anybody’s minds at the time.

In 1920  Sidney Webb , Beatrice Potter Webb  published the Constitution for the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain which outlined a society in which two chambers, of producers, consumers democracy, in an overarching political elected system.

There were other ideas, including G.H.Cole’s workers’ control plans in  Self-Government in Industry (1917, revised 1920).

Since that time, and since 1945, there have been a variety of socialist proposals for public ownership.

The last with any serious impact were elaborated in the 1970s:   Britain: The 1970s and the movement for workers’ control. Andrew Coates  (Links Magazine).

The failures of the free market make these ideas relevant again.

As you can read about in left journals, like Labour Briefing, a magazine Jeremy Corbyn has been associated with for several decades and the Labour Representation Committee.

Eastern Daily Press. Outside Corbyn Meeting Norwich.

Jeremy Corbyn is right: we need to look at these ideas and not fall back on the market, or rather the organised profiting from state subsidies for privately contracted out ‘public services’ and the profiteering of the utilities and railway companies.

This, in effect, what is being proposed, not a reinstatement of the old Clause.

As the Corbyn Campaign says (Mirror),

“He says we need some forms of discussion about public ownership objectives for the 21st century and in some cases, such as rail, on which matter Labour needs to reflect more closely the views of the majority of the public.”

That this will be a fight is obvious from another headline in the paper’s this morning,

Labour’s biggest individual donors have pledged to stop giving money if Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader in a move that could leave the party almost entirely dependent on trade union funding.

Five senior donors have told The Telegraph that Mr Corbyn’s victory would be “disastrous” and could lead to Labour being locked out of power for decades.

Millions of pounds of funding from businessmen may be withheld if the Mr Corbyn, the hard-Left candidate and apparent front-runner, wins the contest on September 12.

It is the first time the party’s biggest financial backers have spoken out about Mr Corbyn, with only John Mills, the party’s top individual donor, having voiced concerns until now.

The revelation has triggered fears that Labour’s attempts to rebuild links with industry would be undermined and its dependence on union funding heightened under Mr Corbyn.

Telegraph.

I also think that a new Clause Four backing public ownership will have the effect of getting rid of the clinging faith that the SNP is left-wing. not to mention putting the cat amongst the pigeons of the Green Party.

* Jonathan Jones is a hot contender with Giles Fraser nominated by Shiraz for the “most annoying” semi-literate commentator in the mainstream UK media.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 9, 2015 at 11:08 am

5 Responses

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  1. Andrew Coates

    August 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm

  2. “He mentioned, “soup swimming with sausage fat in the decaying hostel of the Komsomol..”.gruel ladelled out from huge tubs at Moscow airport and bought a drink at a shop where there were separate tills for each of the small range of commodities.””

    replace “hostel of the Komsomol” with “British Home Stores customer canteen” “Moscow airport” with “the Romford branch of Littlewoods” and “a shop” with “Argos” and you have my childhood experience of visiting a ‘posh shopping centre*’, which in those days had the very communist-sounding name “The Liberty”.

    Jonathan Jones should visit the Essex-y end of east London, it hasn’t changed especially in the past 25 years, whereas, I know, Moscow has.

    It was “posh”, despite being mainly outside, a kind of large pedestrianised precinct, to our eyes, because the place HAD an effing shopping centre. There was even a Dixons, a WH Smiths with a book department, and a Co-op (CRS) department store. I come from a nearby London borough which had none of the three, and no other kind of bookshop either. It still doesn’t.

    dagmar

    August 10, 2015 at 4:34 pm

  3. Giles Fraser is probably sincere, in a J C Flannel sort of way. Jonathan Jones is not. He beats Fraser hands down for pretentiousness, intellectual dishonesty and downright poor journalism. That article on Saturday, condensed: “I got a CPGB application form, but didn’t join. I had a very bad meal in a cheap Moscow hotel. Therefore I know what I am talking about. Jeremy Corbyn is Stalin.” Not quite “The God that Failed” is it?

    Francis

    August 10, 2015 at 8:18 pm

  4. No doubt he’d have joined the Partito Comunista Italiano on the basis that they had excellent cuisine.

    On numerous occasions at the Fête de l’Humanité and at one regional Feste dell’Unita I can attest to that.

    Dagmar, judging from his physique these days, I’d say that Jones has quite a fondness for lot and lots of prime sausages, nibbles, and fine wines.

    Andrew Coates

    August 11, 2015 at 11:37 am

  5. Andrew: I suggest then he makes his way over to GUM; which in my childhood was presented as some kind of Soviet Harrod’s – these days the prices, at least, match. He should avoid Romford at any cost (as should all humanity).

    Lutte Ouvriere fete might also be his style (just for the food though), hm, Oysters, ten for a pound.

    dagmar

    August 11, 2015 at 7:22 pm


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