Blair takes on TGWU boss
Sunday 22 January 1995
Bill Morris, leader of the Transport and General Workers' Union, put down a clear marker to Mr Blair that the trade union Left would not abandon the political goal of state ownership.
Mr Blair made it clear he believes that reform of Clause IV of the party's constitution - committing it to nationalisation - is essential if the Opposition is to win the next election.
In a comment that comes close to making Clause IV an issue of confidence, Mr Blair will say in a speech this week that Labour has "to decide whether it is a modern progressive party for the 21st century or a pressure group for worthy causes in opposition''.
The dispute followed a speech by Mr Morris who told motor industry union members in Birmingham yesterday that "above all, our bottom line has always been, and continues to be, a clear and unequivocal commitment to public ownership and social justice".
Mr Morris said transport workers - like the British people as a whole - would like to see railways kept in the public sector, or returned there by Labour if the Tory privatisation proposals are realised.
More controversially, the TGWU, which commands around 10 per cent of the votes at the special party conference on Clause IV in London on 29 April, also wants "the vital natural asset of water" brought back into public ownership.
In a speech this week, Robin Cook, shadow foreign secretary, will list social justice, an opportunity economy, a strong public sector, democracy, equality, and a healthy environment as key components for Labour's programme. Mr Cook will argue that Labour's ideology rests not on state ownership as the sole objective of socialism but on social solidarity.
Labour movement insiders said Mr Blair's position is "fragile, because it depends on doing deals with union barons. There isn't time to have secret ballots of members or to allow trade union conferences to decide.''
The unions still hold 70 per cent of the votes at party conference, and although they can vote individually, it is much more likely that they will vote en bloc, as they have always done.
- 1 A daily walk 'can add seven years to your life'
- 2 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 3 Chrissie Hynde says women who 'wear high heels and dress provocatively entice rapists'
- 4 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 5 News agency criticised for describing Amal Clooney as 'actor's wife' in coverage of human rights trial
University to mark down students who say 'illegal immigrants' in class
Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
The nine most warmongering countries in the world revealed
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
VMAs 2015: Taylor Swift wins big, Kanye West runs for US president, Nicki Minaj calls out Miley Cyrus and all of tonight's winners
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...
£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...
£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...