Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Clause One principles

Time to convince fellow members of Labour’s founding purpose

The Labour party was founded as the Labour Representation Committee in 1900 by Keir Hardie and others to secure parliamentary representation of labour, because he and the founding trade unions had concluded that marches and placard-waving were insufficient to achieve the political reforms that their union members needed.

That is why Clause One of the Labour party rulebook says the purpose of the Labour party is to ‘maintain in parliament and the country a political Labour party’. It was a commitment to parliamentary and democratic change, a rejection of the syndicalist and revolutionary Marxists’ argument for extra-parliamentary change – currently referred to as a social movement – and it reflected the rejection of the ‘class war’ resolution at the 1900 founding conference of the Labour Representation Committee. Those who argue that Labour should secure change primarily be means of protest alone have challenged Labour’s founding principles every time we have lost power: 1931, 1951, 1979 and again today. It falls to our generation to defend our Clause One principles. But if we get it right, the Clause One socialists will win again

This will be the focus of the Progress political weekend 2017. It is my personal highlight of the political calendar – maybe with the exception of a post-polling day count. Harriet Harman, Alison McGovern and Jess Phillips are already confirmed and it is due to take place on 1 and 2 April at Stoke Rochford Hall, near Grantham. All Progress members are welcome, places are £175 each, and £300 for couples. The generosity of Progress supporters kindly provides bursaries for those who are unable to afford a ticket. Prices are cut to just £50, so get applying today.


Richard Angell is director of Progress. Find out more about the Progress political weekend here


There are 30 bursaries available to Progress members, at least half of which will be for women. If you wish to be considered for a bursary – a reduction of £125 to just £50 – please email a 750-word article on: How do we best convince fellow Labour party members of our Clause One principles? Email entries to

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Richard Angell

is director of Progress


  • Trump’s victory in the US shows that elections are not won from the centre as the Tory-lite rebels insist. Let’s support Jeremey in making the party socialist once again.

  • Every time we have lost an election people have asked why. Usually, as in 1979 and in 1931, it was because the right-wing leadership of the Party was trying to cut the pay and benefits of workers and the unemployed – to pay for another Capitalist crisis, and this split the Party. Good of Lord Sainsbury (one of the 1979 splitters who wrecked our prospects for more than a decade) to fund lessons on how to blame everyone else for the election defeats. Clearly when you lose an election you have little choice but to organise outside of Parliament – because you have no power inside it. That is the raison d’etre of the Party. Or must we just sit back and leave our MPs to challenge the Tories on their own? (Or in the case of 2015 – go along with all the Tory cuts and not really challenge them on anything.) Don’t go agitating about cuts to the NHS or supporting Party days of action – or the Clause 1 Socialists will tell you off for being naughty.

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