Inside Story: So who was responsible for Clause IV

IN 1918 Labour was seeking to change from a minority grouping into a potential party of government. Arthur Henderson (above left), the party secretary, produced a draft constitution intended to unite Labour's various strands, from trade unions to anti-war intellectuals. He was more concerned with structures than ideology, but he included the following 'Party object D' to reflect trade union objectives:

To secure for the producers by hand or brain the full fruits of their industry by the Common Ownership of all monopolies and essential raw materials.

He also offered the party executive an alternative 'Fabian' formula, believed to have been drafted by Sidney Webb (above right).

To secure for the producers by hand or brain the full fruits of their industry by the Common Ownership of the means of production and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.

This version (adopted with no debate recorded) would, the Fabians believed, increase Labour's appeal to a middle class ready for radical ideas. The working class might find it extreme but they would vote Labour anyway. Most importantly, with an election approaching, it set out an objective which distinguished Labour from the Liberals. In the event the middle class failed to convert to socialism, while Henderson, who went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize, probably accurately represented the trade union view when he told a party official that he didn't care either way.

(Photograph omitted)

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