David Blunkett and Bernard Crick: The Labour Party’s Aims and Values (1988)


In 1985, the Labour Party National Executive Committee commissioned a statement of ‘Principles and Beliefs’. The working party appointed to draft the document apparently met only once and then lapsed. Blunkett and Crick however believed that despite disputes over policy and strategy within the party, there was nevertheless widely shared common ground and that democratic socialism in Britain had a clear and distinctive doctrine. Their ‘unofficial’ statement was published as a pamphlet by Spokesman. Blunkett had been elected to parliament in 1987, having for the previous seven years been leader of Sheffield Council. He was later to serve as Education secretary, Home secretary and Work and Pensions secretary between 1997 and 2005 and is currently a member of the House of Lords. Crick was professor of political science at Birkbeck College, University of London, having previously taught at Sheffield University. He published some thirty books including In Defence of Politics, originally published in 1962. He also wrote a Fabian pamphlet, Socialist Values and Time, published in 1984. Crick died in 2008.

“The Labour Party is proud to be a democratic socialist party. It is egalitarian, that is it believes in the equal worth of every human being; that we should treat each other always, whether friends or strangers, with equal consideration. But Labour also aims to be libertarian, open-minded and tolerant. We wish by democratic means to transform slowly but surely our present economically and socially divided society into a truly democratic community that treats all people as equal, women and men, black and white. Such a society would maximise popular participation and would stimulate the altruism in people not only the self-interest, aiming to reinforce the best in us all. Labour seeks not to do good to people by the state but to use the state to enable people to help themselves and those around them.

“The Labour Party from its origins rejected revolutionary socialism. But Labour’s founders had ideals which if applied through free and democratic processes, example and discussion, applied step by step, patiently but with determination, would create a uniquely civilised society with a revolutionary change in social attitudes and values.

“To get workable and acceptable policies is the great task of any political party. But policies must be informed by values and a sense of direction not merely by short-term practicality and expediency. Otherwise policy dwindles into mere pragmatism, always reacting to events, never trying to shape them. Policy must never mean staying in office for the sake of staying in office or trying to win elections simply by reading the momentary popularity of issues on opinion polls. Rather we should try to persuade honestly and by the example of working models on a local level of what we democratic socialists see to be a free, more just and ultimately attainable good society.”

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