New Herald letter (no £wall) – Clause 4 an a’ thing.

Labour’s new Clause 4 encapsulates ideal of solidarity

IT was of course too much to expect that in the 2015 General Election we would not be re-running the arguments of the 2104 referendum, but it comes as a surprise that Bill Brown (Letters, April 2) is still rehearsing the Labour Party’s debate over Clause 4.

The problem with the old formulation of Labour’s principles was that it prescribed state ownership as the panacea for any industry or service. This may have been reasonable after state organisation had won the First World War but 40 years (and a further world war) later, we can learn from the likes of Denis Healey that by the 1950s (and thereafter) it resulted in Labour’s policies being dominated by the search for things to nationalise regardless of whether it was necessary or desirable or not.

This dogmatic approach, based on now totally discredited Soviet-style command economy ideas, was not only inefficient but also excluded key progressive contributions such as those of the co-operative movement.

In contrast, Labour’s principles are far better set out in the new Clause 4: “By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone.” This is especially significant – and accurate – in the post-referendum debate regarding Scotland’s continuing place in the Union, and distinguishes Labour from the SNP who reject the ideals of co-operation and solidarity.

By the way, my own preference for a new Clause 4 was “Liberty, Equality, Solidarity.” But that may have been a bit derivative …

Peter A Russell,


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