Labour should bring back Clause IV, the party’s previous commitment to the public ownership of industry, according to one of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet ministers.
Kelvin Hopkins, shadow culture secretary, said on Tuesday evening the re-election of Corbyn as leader was the “stuff of dreams” and Clause IV was “a totem of what we believe”.
“It’s 23 years since we saw the abandonment of Clause IV, against my wishes, it is perhaps now time to start thinking about bringing it back,” he said.
“It’s not so far fetched that we should see Clause IV coming back because we are seeing, I think, the beginning of the end of globalisation and neoliberalism.”
Clause IV was abolished by Tony Blair as part of his plan to modernise the party in the 1990s. He said the commitment to nationalisation was “intellectually redundant and politically calamitous”.
Clause IV of the Labour Party constitution read:
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.
Hopkins was speaking at an event hosted by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) on the fringes of the Labour Party conference in Liverpool.
He said “economies must be managed and they can’t be left to the market” and “substantial sections” of the economy needed to be brought “back into public ownership”.
The shadow cabinet minister added: “If that’s regarded as extremism, then I’m an extremist.”
Hopkins also attacked Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson. “ I heard one speaker this afternoon, I won’t mention his name, who did talk about he value of the market. Well I think we’ve seen what the market has done to the lives of people in Britain. I think we want to move away from the market and start talking about managing our economies and planning again.”
In his speech to the party conference earlier on Tuesday, Watson told members “the market’s not the problem”.
“Labour is a market socialist party. We understand and work with the market but we don’t worship it,” he said. “The ideological, blinkered belief that markets are the answer to everything is the Tory’s big blindspot. We know that. But, of itself, the market’s not the problem either.”
“Some things markets are good at; others not, but they always need enlightened intervention to make them work. Unfettered markets oligopolise - that’s why all developed economies have extensive and stringent competition law.”
Hopkins told the CLPD his speech was “a contrast to that of our deputy leader” because he “failed to mention Jeremy Corbyn”.
He added of his comments about Watson: “We mustn’t say anything bad about anyone in the party incase we get banned.”
Hopkins was appointed shadow culture secretary by Corbyn in late June, after a large number of the frontbench resigned ahead of the leadership contest. But he said he was keen to be replaced.
“I have made it clear I want to go to the backbenches as soon as possible to cheer for Jeremy from the backbenches,” he said.