We present here Socialist Appeal’s suggested motions for Labour members to raise in their local parties in advance of this year’s conference. If passed, these policies will be an important step forward in the fight for socialism.
This year’s Labour Party conference – 21-25 September in Brighton – will be an important milestone for the Corbyn movement and the fight for a socialist Labour government. With Theresa May gone and the Tories in meltdown, the prospect of a Corbyn government will be within our reach. A discussion on what programme and policies we should be fighting for will therefore have an urgent importance.
Socialist Appeal aims to provide a Marxist voice for Labour and youth. We believe it is important for Labour to mobilise activists around a bold socialist programme. This is the way to win an election and transform society in the interests of workers.
For this reason, we present here model motions that we are suggesting for this year’s Labour conference. All of these take up pressing issues facing the working class and the labour movement.
In particular, the restoration of the original Clause IV – Labour’s historic socialist pledge – would mark an important break with Blairism and commit the party to ‘common ownership’, in order to provide workers with ‘the full fruits of their industry’. What could be more relevant today in this epoch of market failures and disastrous privatisations?
All CLPs will be entitled to send one motion to conference. This can either be on policy or a rule change. Meetings will be taking place across the country in the coming months to decide what motions to submit. We call on our readers to use the model motions below and help us in the fight for socialism.
This Conference believes that the housing situation in Britain is at breaking point. Homelessness is rising, with 1-in-200 people now homeless. More than 1.15 million are on social housing waiting lists.
Average rents have skyrocketed by 19% in the last decade. Ordinary people are spending roughly one-third of their income to cover this basic need. Young people are trapped, forced to live with their parents because they cannot afford rents or the deposit for a mortgage.
Conference also notes that:
- Half of England’s land is owned by just 25,000 wealthy landowners.
- 216,000 empty homes exist across the country (many left idle by speculators) – easily enough to house all the homeless.
- Exploitative landlords are proliferating, profiting from scarcity.
Whilst workers, youth, and the poor suffer, a super-rich few are lining their pockets.
Conference believes that the answer to these scandals is a bold socialist housing programme, involving public ownership over the key levers of the housing and construction industry.
Conference therefore calls on an incoming Labour government to take immediate action, involving:
- Taking over all empty properties to provide temporary accommodation.
- Bringing into local public ownership the privately-rented properties of all major landlords, big management companies, and housing associations.
- Rents controls to affordable levels.
- Nationalisation of all land.
- Nationalisation – under democratic workers’ control and without compensation – of the major construction companies, big banks, insurance and finance companies, and building societies.
- A mass programme of social housing construction, building at least one million homes per year.
Word count: 247
Conference believes that climate change is an urgent issue, requiring urgent action.
Conference notes that:
- Just 100 monopolies and corporations are responsible for over 70% of carbon emissions.
- Labour has supported the youth strikes for climate, where demonstrators have demanded ‘system change, not climate change’.
It is the capitalist system and its drive for profits that are responsible for the race to the bottom in terms of environmental standards, living standards, and working conditions.
To stop climate change, we therefore need to bring in a socialist plan of production, with an economy based on society’s needs, not profits. This should involve public ownership and workers’ control of the key economic levers, including the banks, transport, energy sector, utilities, and major industrial monopolies.
Conference therefore calls on the Labour Party to bring in a bold socialist environmental programme, with a commitment to zero carbon emissions by 2030. This should involve:
- Nationalisation of transport, including the railways, buses, and ride-hailing services. Large-scale investment in green, affordable, and integrated public transport.
- Nationalisation of the electricity and gas suppliers and transmission networks. Mass investment in renewables to rapidly phase out fossil fuels and decarbonise energy supplies.
- Nationalisation of the banks, land, and major construction companies in order to build high-quality social housing and carry out a mass insulation programme of existing buildings.
- No compensation to former owners of nationalised firms.
- Democratic workers’ control and management of nationalised industries.
- A workers-led Lucas Plan model to transition from polluting sectors to green industries and jobs.
Word Count: 249
Conference notes the huge changes that have taken place within the Labour Party since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader – in particular, the building of a mass membership of over 500,000.
Conference nevertheless believes that there is more to be done to democratise the party. The splitting away of Labour MPs to form ‘Change UK’ demonstrates the potential threat to our movement if we do not have accountable representatives, loyal to the interests of the working class.
Our public representatives should represent the party and its membership, not their own agenda or interests (including any financial interests).
Conference notes that others in the PLP have threatened to resign. This precarious situation cannot not be tolerated by our party and its members. We cannot be subject to the blackmail of a handful of potential deserters. If any MPs or councillors threaten to quit, let them resign their Labour seats and stand in a by-election under their new banner.
Conference believes it is the democratic right of party members to be able to choose who should represent them and the party. Under present rules, this right is curtailed.
Conference therefore calls on the NEC to introduce the following measures:
- Mandatory reselection (open selection) of Labour MPs and councillors.
- A ban on outside jobs or consultancy positions while serving as an MP. All money received from media appearances to go to party campaign funds.
- Review Labour MPs’ salaries, with a view to MPs taking the average wage of a skilled worker.
Word count: 250
Labour Party Rule Book 2018 – Chapter 1, “Constitutional Rules”, Clause IV, Aims and Values – reads:
“1. The Labour Party is a democratic socialist Party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few; where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe and where we live together freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.
“2. To these ends we work for:
“A. A DYNAMIC ECONOMY, serving the public interest, in which the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition are joined with the forces of partnership and co-operation to produce the wealth the nation needs and the opportunity for all to work and prosper with a thriving private sector and high-quality public services where those undertakings essential to the common good are either owned by the public or accountable to them.”
DELETE point 2 and 2A. REPLACE with:
“2. To these ends we work:
“A. 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.”
The collapse of Carillion and British Steel once again demonstrates the bankruptcy of capitalism and privatisation. We should take control of the economy by taking over the ‘commanding heights’. The old Clause IV was a clear commitment to the socialist transformation of society. It is time we brought this back.