The Labour Party in Blackpool: The clause that can bring forth division again

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The Independent Online
THE HALLOWED wording of Clause IV, Tony Blair's modernisation target, was part of the constitution for the party drawn up in 1918, most of which is normally attributed to Sydney and Beatrice Webb, writes Donald Macintyre.

It declares a commitment 'to secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry, and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service'.

In the aftermath of the traumatic 1959 election defeat, Hugh Gaitskell, against the advice of some of his closest allies on the right of the party, sought to replace the clause as Mr Blair is seeking to do. But eventually he backed off in the wake of furious left-wing opposition and lack of enthusiasm from allies such as Sam Watson, the famous Durham miners' leader, himself on the right of the party.

During the infighting, it was revealed that Arthur Henderson, the deputy leader of the party in the 1920s, had questioned the relevance of the 1918 clause less than a decade after it was introduced.