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New Left Review I/6, November-December 1960


NLR Editorials

Scarborough and Beyond





THE CONFERENCE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

the centre-piece of the Scarborough Conference was, of course, the defence debate: everything before led up to and foreshadowed that. But it is useful to begin elsewhere. When Mr. Gaitskell chose his ground last year at Blackpool, the issue which he projected on to the Party—Clause 4 and public ownership—was not a simple question of the revision of the Constitution. He saw, in this text, an opportunity to redefine the nature and goals of the Party itself for a very long time to come. That battle is still on—and the clue to the coming controversies lies in the difference of tone between Mr. Gaitskell facing the “unilateralists, pacifists and fellow travellers” on Wednesday, and Mr. Gaitskell placating the anti-revisionists and fundamentalists on Thursday. He yielded to the “sentimental” attachment of the Party to the Constitution, in a moderate and apologetic speech on Clause 4, only because, in a well-argued and comprehensive but occasionally aggressive and abusive speech on defence, he had taken his stand elsewhere.

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