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New Left Review I/11, September-October 1961


William Norman

Signposts for the 60—s

Signposts for the Sixties is the first of the two documents which, in the words of Labour in the Sixties, “will . . . survey the major foreign and domestic problems now facing the British people”. This document, concerned with the “domestic problems”, is not intended to be a “detailed blueprint”, but rather “a clear statement both of our distinctive attitude to postwar capitalism and of the new direction we would give the nation’s affairs”. As such, it is the first important clue to the way the leadership has been thinking since the Clause 4 dispute. The word “clue” is used advisedly. The Right traditionally avoids detailing policy because it fears commitment at the Conference; this document, in its many obscurities, is merely following the pattern of its predecessors. The Left, without prospects of direct power and therefore always anxious to commit a recalcitrant leadership to a shopping list of commanding heights, is once again reduced to a search for clues. The question this time is: does this document remain within the Crosland framework or has the unexpected fight over Clause 4 caused the leadership to revise its thinking in accordance with the Left’s analysis of contemporary capitalism?

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