School of Politics and International Relations

Corbyn won't touch Clause IV, but Labour will be wrestling with it forever

22 September 2019

Dr Karl Pike of the School of Politics and International Relations wrote an opinion piece for the Independent on rewriting Labour’s clause IV. He writes: “In Labour – as with other parties of the left – there is often an appetite for a renewed statement of ideological intent. Ever since the party’s 1959 election defeat, the statement of aims in its constitution has been the obvious place to go – known simply as “Clause IV”. Now, there is a new grassroots effort underway to get the clause rewritten – but the leadership is having none of it. The assumption is that any rewrite would hark back to early 20th-century Labour, rather than looking forward to the world as it is today, and that the leadership might simply find doing so too politically sensitive. Preoccupied with hypothetical referendums and looming elections, both of which are exacerbating Labour’s bitter divisions, Corbyn seems keen to avoid meddling with the party’s core statements of intent. Politically speaking, that’s understandable. But the lesson from former Labour leaders is that – whatever Corbyn wants – this will never go away.”
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