Another low for the press this evening, as a headline in the Independent claims that Jeremy Corbyn has firmly pledged to bring back the original Clause Four of Labour's constitution, even though he in fact only said that was one possibility. I was also intrigued to see them claim that the rewording of Clause Four under Tony Blair marked "an end to nearly a century of Labour’s commitment to socialism", because in a literal sense it actually introduced a commitment to socialism for the very first time. See for yourself...
Pre-1995 wording : "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."
Post-1995 wording : "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."
So Labour put the word "socialist" in their constitution and instantly ceased to be a socialist party. Presumably they will revert to being socialist as soon as Corbyn removes the word. Amusingly, Blair also said the following in his first conference speech as leader in 1994 : "These are our words, this is my socialism. SOCIALISM. And we must stop apologising for using the word." Twenty years on, Blair has a great many things to apologise for, but over-use of "socialism" isn't one of them. Maybe that's what he meant.
Apart from its sheer vacuousness, what bothers me most about the current constitution is the phrase "the many, not the few". That seems deliberately designed to mean something other than "everybody" - in other words, the persistent existence of a minority underclass is now entirely consistent with Labour's stated values.