The Labour Party need to reinstate Clause IV of the Labour Party Constitution in order to bind members to a common purpose and understanding of what Socialism actually represents to the Labour Party. At the moment we have a situation of chaos where each member seems to have a different interpretation of socialism there seems to be a lack of common understanding. The very meaning and understanding of socialism is open to interpretation in today’s Labour Party. This is an ill advised system in my opinion. In the past members knew instinctively where the Labour Party’s values were and they knew what was meant when referring to socialism. After Blair this all changed and there is now mass confusion and this is reflected in the mass confusion regarding the overall direction of the Party. The idea that socialism is an system of economic principles and values has seemingly been rather too conveniently forgotten about, and when many members refer to socialism they are simply referring to notions of fairness relative to the other political parties. Simply being nice and fair and listening to the opinions of others is not socialism. It should not be forgotten that socialism is actually a set of economic principles designed to bring about a greater distribution of wealth in an economic system and is something that challenges the notions of Adam Smith’s ideas regarding Capitalism. Socialism counters the greed of a purely Capitalist System of Economics and it gives people a stake in society through the benefits of the State owning some part of the economic system in order to obtain capital for the investment for the good of all the country’s citizens. In particular the key industries it targets are those that are essential for the running of the country such as Energy Supply and Transport. These are the key industries which socialism targets to generate capital for re-investment in the country’s health provision (NHS), to reduce the burden of taxation on the individual and to support local essential services, police and council provisions etc.
So when Mr Corbyn speaks about taking the Energy Providers and the Railways into public ownership is he speaking about also incorporating some elements of socialist economics? This unfortunately remains unclear even to Party members. There seems to be either a lack of understanding or a fudged way of thinking. These ideas are socialist and are being floated but none knows what the boat is being floated on. Is it strong set of socialist economic principles or not? Nobody really understands what is being proposed here and whether it fits a socialist model or not. I have heard of members mentioning socialism in one breath and in the same breath referring to the involvement of private companies getting involved. Shareholding and socialism together is yet another distortion of the idea of socialism. The idea behind socialism is that it eliminates private enterprise in some of the key industries and makes these not for profit but for the people, which would fit in with the Labour Mantra ‘For the Many not just the Few’. But how does the idea of shareholding fit in that same mantra – well not very comfortably. Thus we find confusion about the true direction of the Labour Party at the moment. It is really up to Jeremy Corbyn to make a clear statement of intent and purpose and indicate if Labour is or is not a socialist style party. When he talks about his ideas is he actually proposing some form of socialist economics or not? Is he misleading the membership and particularly those on the left that wish to see some kind of movement back towards a socialist style of economics. If the current Labour Party cannot or is unwilling to adopt a socialist set of guiding economic principles then it should refrain from making allusions to being socialist representatives. It should stop using the socialist banner to recruit it’s membership and it should simply say that it is the Party that endeavours by some means or other to be fairer than those other nasty parties which are particularly unfair. If Jeremy Corbyn fails to establish the model on which his socialist intent is actually based for the Labour Party and fails to come clean about whether or not the Party would bring about economic change from a purely capitalist system to incorporating some aspects of socialist economic theory, then he leaves himself vulnerable to attack from the very people that he has been encouraging to give him the support to maintain him as the Party’s Leader. If he fails to do this then he could find his all important support on the left simple drifting away leaving him open to a further Leadership Battle, a state from which it will be only the Tories that benefit. In the past the membership knew exactly what was implied when referring to socialism, it was enshrined in Clause IV of the Labour Party Constitution. This helped identify to members about what the Labour Party stood for – it was a socialist organization. This needs to be the case in the future Labour needs to reinstate Clause IV with it’s original meaning and interpretation – it is and would be a clear signpost of intent and purpose and something that the Labour Party is in desperate need of right now. Sadly until this happens there will be confusion in the direction and purpose of the Labour Party and infighting as to the true meaning of socialism and what it represents to the Party and to it’s membership.
If you feel strongly about this and are also a Labour Party Member then please support my suggestion via the Submission that I have made on the Labour Party Policy Forum.