Jeremy Corbyn, the frontrunner to become the next Labour leader, has indicated that he may bring back Clause Four, the party's commitment to public ownership scrapped by Tony Blair in the New Labour era two decades ago.
“I think we should talk about what the objectives of the party are, whether that’s restoring Clause Four as it was originally written or it’s a different one. But we shouldn’t shy away from public participation, public investment in industry and public control of the railways,” said Corbyn, speaking to the Independent on Sunday.
“I’m interested in the idea that we have a more inclusive, clearer set of objectives. I would want us to have a set of objectives which does include public ownership of some necessary things such as rail,” he told the newspaper.
Corbyn last week said he would buy up shares in the big six energy firms to gain a controlling stake in a move to part-nationalise them.
“I would want the public ownership of the gas and the National Grid . . . [and] I would personally wish that the big six were under public control, or public ownership in some form,” he said speaking to Greenpeace, the FT reports. “With a national investment bank, new infrastructure - like energy - should be publicly owned, whether that’s at community, municipal or national level,” he told the paper.
He has also called for the railways to be renationalised, as has fellow leadership contender Andy Burnham.
Corbyn's comments on Clause Four would signal a significant political break with the New Labour era.
The clause was changed from pledging "common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange" to, "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".