Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing candidate leading the race for the leadership of the UK's opposition Labour Party, has suggested that he could reintroduce a commitment to public ownership of key industries if elected, prompting disquiet among some of the party's leading figures and wealthy donors.
Corbyn, the Member of Parliament for Islington North in London, suggested in an interview with the UK's Independent on Sunday newspaper that he would reintroduce Clause IV to the party's constitution if elected. Clause IV called for "common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange", and was removed from the party's constitution following a campaign by Tony Blair, who went on to secure the party three consecutive electoral victories starting in 1997.
Blair had said that the removal of Clause IV was the “defining moment in the history of my party,” when he succeeded in scrapping it in 1995. Its removal was seen as a highly symbolic move by the traditionally socialist party to the center-ground of British politics.
"I think we should talk about what the objectives of the party are, whether that's restoring the Clause IV as it was originally written or it's a different one, but I think we shouldn't shy away from public participation, public investment in industry and public control of the railways," Corbyn told the paper.
"I'm interested in the idea that we have a more inclusive, clearer set of objectives. I would want us to have a set of objectives which does include public ownership of some necessary things such as rail," he added.
One of Corbyn's leadership rivals, Liz Kendall, condemned the idea as a "throwback to the past".
Corbyn is one of four candidates vying for the leadership of the UK's largest opposition party. British voters dealt the party a surprisingly large defeat at the country's general election held in May this year, and Ed Miliband, who lead the party into the election on a more left-leaning platform that it had stood on in recent years, resigned after the defeat.
Corbyn emerged as the surprise leader in the race in June, after opinion polls of party members found him far ahead of his rivals, who include former ministers Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, and former shadow minister Liz Kendall.
His rise has worried some party grandees and wealthy donors, who have expressed concern that his leftist policy platform would alienate centrist voters. Former Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson urged the party to “end the madness,” of Corbyn's candidacy in a Guardian article, and businessman Assem Allam, who donated £300,000 ($465,000) to Labour during the last election, said that he would stop giving money to the party if Mr Corbyn became leader, saying he never backed a "dead horse", the BBC reported.
The results of the party's leadership election will be revealed Sept. 12.