King Coal is dubbed King Canute over Clause IV

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Indy Politics
Having failed to resurrect the pro-nationalisation Clause IV, Arthur Scargill yesterday indicated that he was considering leaving the Labour Party, writes Barrie Clement.

Asked if he could remain a member, he replied in the Thatcherite first person plural:"We will have to consider our position."

The miners' leader told the BBC: "I joined this party to change society. I didn't join this party to run capitalism better and more efficiently than the Tories."

Traditionally characterised as King Coal, in the debate over Clause IV yesterday Mr Scargill was accused of being King Canute after he attempted to defend his "birthright" as an "unashamed socialist".

Deserted by former supporters of the party's old testament, the motion presented by the leader of the National Union of Mineworkers was overwhelmingly defeated. Tony Blair was noticeably absent from the platform, putting the finishing touches to his speech on "New Britain", a country presumably not to Mr Scargill's liking. He argued that the special conference on 29 April, which voted by a two-thirds majority to abandon the clause, had been unconstitutional.

Amid sporadic cheers and occasional catcalls Mr Scargill warned delegates that without Clause IV's commitment to the "common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange", Labourwould be no different to the Tories. He told delegates:"If you ditch Clause IV you throw away our birthright and the cornerstone of our constitution which makes us different from the party we are seeking to replace."

He pointed out that unions had created the Labour Party and the leadership was now guilty of the "theft" of the constitution. Mr Scargill said he had joined the party to fight the "ruthless and corrupt" system of capitalism."We must have a philosophy which is fundamentally different to those which support the free market."

He received prolonged applause from significant sections of the conference, but many of those delegates then went on to vote against him.

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