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The Blair SupremacyA study in the politics of Labour's party management$
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Lewis Minkin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719073793

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719073793.001.0001

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Transforming fundamentals and laying new foundations

Transforming fundamentals and laying new foundations

(p.176) 6 Transforming fundamentals and laying new foundations
The Blair Supremacy

Lewis Minkin

Manchester University Press

This chapter is focused on the attempt to manage change in fundamentals and foundations of the party; the centrepiece was the reform of Clause IV of Labour’s constitution and removal of its commitment to extensive public ownership. Investigation here focuses on the heavily advantageous management of the decision-making process over Clause IV, working with the grain of arguments against the old form rather than arguments for the new content. It was presented later as iconic in its scale of change and leadership supremacy, yet, as shown here, not all of the Leader’s objectives were secured. A misleading spin portrayed the reform as a union defeat, and later a spin-led reform attack on the unions caused such managerial problems that it had to be halted. Subsequently, using a new power to call a party referendum, plans were announced by the Leader for a national party ballot on a document that would be an early version of the manifesto. Suspicion of circumventing party procedures turned to deep distrust when it became clear also that the proposal did not involve the unions. The intense but generally hidden conflict is inspected here for its immediate and later significance.

Keywords:   Clause IV, Public ownership, Management, Road to Manifesto, Party ballot, Hidden conflict, Distrust

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