Jess Phillips

Clause One principles

First published in Progress magazine

Time to convince fellow members of Labour’s founding purpose

The Labour party was founded as the Labour Representation Committee in 1900 by Keir Hardie and others to secure parliamentary representation of labour, because he and the founding trade unions had concluded that marches and placard-waving were insufficient to achieve the political reforms that their union members needed.

That is why Clause One of the Labour party rulebook says the purpose of the Labour party is to ‘maintain in parliament and the country a political Labour party’. It was a commitment to parliamentary and democratic change, a rejection of the syndicalist and revolutionary Marxists’ argument for extra-parliamentary change – currently referred to as a social movement – and it reflected the rejection of the ‘class war’ resolution at the 1900 founding conference of the Labour Representation Committee. Those who argue that Labour should secure change primarily be means of protest alone have challenged Labour’s founding principles every time we have lost power: 1931, 1951, 1979 and again today. It falls to our generation to defend our Clause One principles. But if we get it right, the Clause One socialists will win again (more…)