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Dawson CLP Speech 1 - Sheffield
Tommy arrived in Sheffield to deliver the following speech to an audience of CLP members.

Hello Sheffield! Boy is it nice to be back home in a city where the real work necessary to ensure our society functions is conducted and away from those stuffy halls in Westminster teeming with ghoulish Tory MPs spinning a wheel to determine which of our proud industries they’re going to sell off to speculators in the City, next.  As you may have heard – though perhaps not in the kindest terms in the gutter press – my friend James McCrimmon and I are running for the Leadership positions of our party because we must return to our roots and renew our commitment to the working class – the class that includes the vast majority of us, the ones who create the wealth, who ensure that our shelves are stocked, that our power runs – so that we may restore hope in a dark age of inequality, poverty, and despair by fighting, together, for a world free of those scourges.

I’d like to discuss – if I may – those roots. I’d like to begin in the year 1918, a time in which – like now – the many were condemned to a life of exploitation, working for scraps so that a few – living in obscene mansions and grand estates –  could accumulate so much. As working people organized themselves into unions to collectively struggle for their interest, within the Labour Party they passed a constitutional clause that perfectly encapsulates the world that they fought to move us closer to, the world that we must strive for. If you’ll let me, I’d like to recite it:

“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 vision encapsulated by Clause IV is the light at the end of the tunnel that binds our fight for justice today with our ancestors who struggled in solidarity with the oppressed everywhere. We trudge on toward that light to achieve a society organised to meet human needs while living in one with priorities so obscenely distorted. 

1945 constituted a profound jump toward that light shimmering in the distance. Working people across every corner of Britain organised and rallied behind Clem Atlee and one of the giants in the history of our socialist movement, Nye Bevan, as they advanced a vision of victory at home as a necessary component of our defeat of fascism. And after decades of malicious neglect by Tory governments interested only in padding the pockets and prestige of their boss and aristocrat backers and the courageous sacrifice during the wartime years they had a Government unflinchingly bold in their commitment to shifting power and wealth toward working people. Industry after industry, previously used as no more than vehicles for profit by the those fortunate enough to own them while many went without were taken into public ownership and organized for the good of the many. Nye – with the broad support of working people – fought for and created the NHS –  the greatest testament to what can be achieved when we set out with clear conviction and moral clarity to forge a society that put human need first. We saw a rise in trade union membership and working people were confident in their power to gain wage and benefit increases if they fought alongside one another for them.

Why, today, do I stand before you recounting the our past and advancing metaphors about lights and tunnels? Because after more than a decade of Misery-Bringing Maggie and her marauding gang of City of London looters and salivating Tory mates who have brought us the poll tax, the destruction of our industry, the upward transfer of wealth from poor to rich, the hollowing out of our communities, and the widespread alienation and disenchantment that so many feel, our Labour Party cannot afford to retreat from the march of our ancestors, the march of our neighbors and friends – our march to that light at the end of the tunnel. We cannot simply offer gift-wrapping on top of a fundamentally rotten economic structure as a “respectable” alternative to that fetid structure that we see laid bare before us. We must build something better, altogether. We need a Labour Leader like James McCrimmon who will fight to restore our industry under public ownership. We need a Labour Leader like James McCrimmon who will repeal every damn word of Maggie’s union law and fight to give the working people who create the wealth a say in how their workplace is run. We need a Labour Leader like James McCrimmon who will re-invest in and rebuild our working communities so that they may be the hallmark of solidarity and social co-operation in the world. We need a Labour Leader like James McCrimmon who is unafraid to reach into our radical past for inspiration to create a just future, as he as done connecting the thread of the Chartist Movement with our Second People’s Charter. And finally, we need a Labour Leader like James McCrimmon whose vision is clear enough to look at that gleaming light at the other side of the tunnel and organize our working class toward it.

Comrades, look out ahead of you. If you see that twinkling light of a socialist future, one free from poverty, hunger, and agony please organize in your CLPs for James McCrimmon and myself. Then we can fight together for it once we lead our party back into government.
Tommy Dawson
Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside (1979-Present)
Socialist Campaign Group. 9 XP. 15 Marx Visits. Media Darling, Campaign Guru, Issue Champ (Econ Equality)
Deputy Leader (1990-1992), Shadow Chancellor (1990-1992), The Most Dangerous Man in Britain (1992)
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