They Think It’s All Over
On election night in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire – a post-industrial, ex-mining town – nobody at the count looked happy. Labour one the parliamentary seat as usual but nearly lost control of the district council for the first time. The only conservative who showed up was the paper candidate who polled well but didn’t expect to win. UKIP and our “Independent Forum” did the best between them and in some ways are interchangeable, but, since UKIP only won a single seat in the country and it certainly wasn’t going to be ours they were just vaguely grumply. Us Greens and our neighbours from the TUSC were mostly just pleased to be there but couldn’t hide our disappointment at what was happening to the Labour Party that many of us once believed in.
So what happens next?
The national papers have instantly framed the debate over Labour’s future as one about whether it move to the left or the right. But, as ever, this is simplistic.
What has happened to the Labour Party is there for all to see; it was once rooted in the unions – in organised labour – now labour is no longer organised and the party it christened is no longer interested in it. Neither of them have much power, both have ‘let themselves go a bit’ so both are talking about singing their Decree Absolut – the final legal papers in a divorce. The Dicree Nice? Well those papers were served by Tony Blair two years before he became Prime Minister in what has become known as the ‘Clause 4 moment’.
Clause 4 committed the Labour Party to unapologetic socialism. It reads:
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.
In 1995 it was replaced with:
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
Blah, blah, blah, democratic socialist party. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Blah.