Cameron's 'Clause IV' moment risks split with right-wing Tories

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David Cameron will today announce plans to entrench his radical changes to the Conservative Party by asking its 250,000 members to approve them in a ballot. He will publish a statement of the Tories' aims and values in a move that will provoke comparisons with Tony Blair's decision to scrap Labour's Clause IV commitment to public ownership after becoming leader of the Labour Party in 1994.

The Tory leader will anger his right-wing critics by putting a commitment to economic stability ahead of the party's traditional goal of tax cuts, and disowning Margaret Thatcher by saying: "There is such a thing as society."

His document will add: "The right test for our policies is how they help the most disadvantaged in society, not the rich."

The statement will pledge that the Tories will work for a consensus on climate change and sustainable development, and say there is a moral obligation to "make poverty history".

After a period of discussion, the Tories' new guiding principles will be put to a ballot of the membership ahead of the party's annual conference in October.

The move will be seen as a defining moment in Mr Cameron's attempts to modernise his party after three election defeats. He will be accused of copying Mr Blair's strategy because Tory modernisers have long searched for the party's "Clause IV moment".

Allies insisted Mr Cameron's move was different because he was not ditching the party's values but merely applying them to the modern world.

But Tory right-wingers reacted with scepticism. Lord Tebbit, the former Tory chairman, said: "I suppose it's a bit of clever marketing. The problem to me with this is that every one of these things could be listed in the Labour manifesto. It is going to be difficult until it is fleshed out to find any differences with our political opponents."

Mr Cameron said last night: "We don't have a Clause IV so I am not asking us to junk something. We don't need to do that. But I think that in any organisation, it is right to set out what you stand for, what you are fighting for, to bring that together in one document so that people can see that is the modern, compassionate Conservative Party."

The document will define the party's aims as a dynamic economy, a strong society and a sustainable environment. On the Tories' values, it will say: "The more we trust people, the stronger they and society become. We're all in this together ­ government, business, the voluntary sector, families and individuals. We have a shared responsibility for our shared future."

The statement will also promise to secure more women and ethnic minority MPs by pledging: "We are an open and inclusive party. We will act to ensure that our party, at every level, is representative."

In a landmark speech in London today, Mr Cameron will tell the party that it must change from top to bottom to convince the voters it is fit to return to power. Hewill say: "This party voted for change. Now we have to show what that change means. Not just what we're changing from but what we're changing to."

He will add: "We have to show that the change is real, that it's built to last. That's why I'm setting out what we stand for and what we're fighting for."

He will contrast Mr Brown's record on the environment, claiming he has " hardly said a word about it" in nine years as Chancellor, with a Conservative Party that has now put it at the top of its agenda.

The Tory leader will ridicule Mr Brown's speech on "Britishness", saying that the Chancellor thinks it is about telling people to plant flags on their lawn. In contrast, he will argue, the Tories understand the nation's deepest interests.

Mr Cameron's move follows criticism from inside his party that, since becoming leader in December, he has defined what the Tories are against after ditching some key policies but has not spelt out what they now stand for. Mr Cameron believes the Tories must show the voters the entire party has changed, and that it is not enough to merely have a new leader calling for "compassionate Conservatism". He will warn his party: "If we don't change, we let our people down. If we make changes, if we stick to them, if we show they're built to last, then we will be able to meet the challenges this country faces and help create a better Britain ­ built to last."

Blueprint for a 'modern, compassionate' party


To improve the quality of life for everyone through:

A dynamic economy, where thriving businesses create jobs, wealth and opportunity.

A strong society, where our families, our communities

and our nation create secure foundations on which people can build their lives.

A sustainable environment, where we enhance the beauty of our surroundings and protect the future of the planet.


The more we trust people, the stronger they and society become. We're all in this together ­ government, business, the voluntary sector, families and individuals. We have a shared responsibility for our shared future.


We are an open and inclusive party. We will act to ensure that our party, at every level, is representative of modern Britain.


1. A successful Britain must be able to compete with the world. We will put economic stability and fiscal responsibility first. They must come before tax cuts. Over time, we will share the proceeds of growth between public services and lower taxes ­ instead of letting government spend an ever-increasing share of national income.

2. There is such a thing as society, it's just not the same thing as the state. The right test for our policies is how they help the most disadvantaged in society, not the rich. We will stand up for the victims of state failure and ensure that social justice and equal opportunity are achieved by empowering people and communities ­ instead of thinking only the state can guarantee fairness.

3. The quality of life matters, as well as the quantity of money. We will enhance our environment by seeking a long-term cross-party consensus on sustainable development and climate change ­ instead of short-term thinking and surrender to vested interests. We will support the choices women make about their work and home lives, not impose choices on them.

4. Public services for everyone must be guaranteed by the state, not necessarily run by the state. We will improve the NHS and schools for everyone, not help a few to opt out. But public services paid for by the state don't have to be run by the state. We will trust professionals and share responsibility ­ instead of controlling professionals in state monopolies.

5. It is our moral obligation to make poverty history. We will fight for free and fair trade, increase international aid, and press for further debt relief. But this is not enough. We will also take action to build those institutions ­ like the rule of law and property rights ­ that support development.

6. Security and freedom must go hand in hand. In fighting crime and terrorism, we will be hard-nosed defenders of freedom and security. We will ensure strong defence and the effective enforcement of laws that balance liberty and safety ­ instead of ineffective authoritarianism which puts both freedom and security at risk.

7. We understand the limitations of government, but are not limited in our aspirations for government. We believe in the role of government as a force for good. It can and should support aspirations such as home ownership, saving for a pension, and starting a business. It should support families and marriage, and those who care for others. And it should support the shared experiences that bring us together ­ such as sport, the arts and culture.

8. We believe that government should be closer to the people, not further away. We want to see more local democracy, instead of more centralisation ­ whether to Brussels, Whitehall or unwanted regional assemblies ­ and we want to make the devolved institutions in Scotland and Wales work. Communities should have more say over their own futures.

How Blair showed the modernising way

When Tony Blair announced his decision to ditch Clause IV of Labour's constitution, he did not shout it from the rooftops.

The words "Clause IV" did not even pass his lips when he dropped his bombshell at Labour's annual conference in October 1994.

The new Labour leader spoke only of a new statement of the party's objectives to "take its place in our constitution for the next century".

But when he sat down, the impact of what he had said started to dawn on his party.

Clause IV, Part IV of Labour's constitution, committing the party to the "common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange", was adopted in 1918. Labour had never really believed in it or tried to enact it. But it was a symbolic, Marxist, relic and therefore was ripe for slaughter.

Mr Blair met resistance from Labour left-wingers and some trade unions. But after a nationwide campaign, his new statement of "aims and values" won the support of 65 per cent of the party at a special conference in April 1995.

The statement said that "by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone", and pledged to create "a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few".

Abandoning Clause IV sent a powerful signal to the voters that Labour had finally changed. That is why David Cameron, despite his denials, hopes that he will achieve his "Clause IV moment" today.

Andrew Grice