The British Labour Party's National Executive Committee - 26 men and women - met at Transport House, London, April 16.
The British Labour Party's National Executive Committee - 26 men and women - met at Transport House, London, April 16. On the agenda was the all-important discussion of Mr. Gaitskell's proposals for re-stating the Party's aims. Mr. Bevan, second to Mr. Gaitskell among the Labour leaders, was not present. He is still recovering at his farm at Ashridge, Bucks., after his recent serious operation, and was not able to vote by proxy.
Two big issues were at stake, not only Labour Party's future policy on public ownership but Mr. Gaitskell's position as leader of the Party. He was to submit to the meeting proposals amending the Party Constitution. They would free the Party from its present apparent committal to full public ownership - specified under Clause 4 of the 1918 Constitution - allowing greater official flexibility in Labour policy towards a combination of public and private ownership of production, distribution and exchange.
Mr. Gaitskell was expected to get a big majority of votes in his favour, but the powerful Transport and General Workers' Union was understood to oppose his amendments, which would have a serious effect at the annual Party conference in October. Also, another Labour leader, Mr. Richard Crossman, was recently 'dismissed' by Mr. Gaitskell as Labour spokesman on Pensions because of his "rebel" views on defence and public ownership.