Yvette Cooper Wants Labour to do More to Tackle Inequality

Yvette Cooper has sought to add vision and energy to her late campaign to become Labour leader by announcing her intention to rewrite clause IV of Labour’s constitution with a specific commitment to champion equality.

The original version of clause IV was drafted in 1917 by Sidney Webb, and stated the intention of the party in part 4; “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 socialist language apparent in terms such as ‘means of production’ emphasizes the party’s socialist roots and early influence through Marxist ideology. Despite the failure of Hugh Gaitskill to change the clause’s definition in the late 1950’s, Tony Blair successfully altered the wording in 1995 to read “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.”

Many political commentator’s saw the redrafting of clause IV to symbolise the transition of Old Labour to New Labour. Cooper’s commitment to put equality at the forefront of her leadership campaign has become an integral part of her political stance, with her saying that Blair did not do enough by merely calling for an ‘equality of opportunity.’

In an interview with The Guardian , Cooper insisted; “That is not enough. We need to tackle widening inequality itself. In the 90s it was argued, ‘So long as we just champion equality of opportunity everything else will look after itself,’ but it does not. The big challenge of the next 10 to 20 years is widening inequality.”

As well as championing socio-economic equality, Cooper has explicitly stated that the Labour Party must pledge to work towards gender and racial equality for Britain. Cooper was careful to state that rather than redraft the clause, she would merely look to add to it, stating, “I don’t think we need to start from scratch. We should be confident about our values, but we need to add to clause IV so that core purpose is explicit.”

The Shadow Home Secretary, has gained ground on her leadership rival Jeremy Corbyn this week when she slammed David Cameron for what she sees as inaction regarding the refugee crisis.  She demanded that Britain should accept 10,000 asylum seekers from the Middle East. However, it is left-winger Corbyn who remains odds-on favourite with bookmakers to become party leader.

Written By:

Daniel James


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