Patrick Gordon Walker
| Patrick Gordon Walker
Worthing, Sussex, England
|1980-12-02 (Age 73)
Patrick Gordon Walker was a Labour Party politician associated with the right wing 'Gaitskell-ite' wing of the party along with some of those who went on to form the Social Democratic Party, splitting the Labour Party in the early 1980s.
Tom Easton writes:
- The day after Labour's defeat in the 1959 general election, Roy Jenkins, Anthony Crosland and Douglas Jay were among a small group who met with Gaitskell to propose that Labour drop its old commitment to traditional socialism, particularly Clause IV which pledged "common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange".
- In February 1960, William Rogers, general secretary of the Fabian Society, set up a steering committee with Crosland, Roy Jenkins, Patrick Gordon Walker, Jay and some sympathetic journalists. This group started to work on a manifesto to be released in the event of Gaitskell's defeat in the defence debate at the party conference that year.
- Gaitskell was indeed defeated and CND won its campaign of committing the Labour Party to a neutralist programme. With widespread press coverage, Rogers and his friends immediately released 25,000 copies of their manifesto, which appealed to Labour Party members to rally behind Gaitskell and "fight and fight and fight again". The group set up the Campaign for Democratic Socialism (CDS)and with large sums of CIA money channelled through the CCF, they were able to take a permanent office and appoint paid staff. Given the full support, resources and unlimited financial backing of the CIA, the CDS had great advantages over their opponents in the party, who had to rely entirely on unpaid volunteer workers. At the CDS's disposal were field workers in the constituencies and unions, whom it supported with travelling expenses, literature and organisational support, as well as supplying tens of thousands of free copies of the manifesto, pamphlets and other CDS publications, plus a regular bulletin, Campaign, which was circulated free of charge to a large mailing list. All of this was produced without a single subscription-paying member.
- CDS achieved its objectives: the trade unions cracked under the pressure and the Labour Party returned to its support for NATO at the party conference in 1961. The Campaign for Democratic Socialism - with its CIA backing - was the most effective pressure group the Labour Party had ever seen. Its influence was out of all proportion to its original support among party members and its financial backers could justly claim to have changed the course of British politics.
- George Thomson - a pillar of the CDS, who later resigned from Labour's front bench with Roy Jenkins to form the more right-wing Social Democratic Party (SDP) - said of Rita Hinden: "In the 50s, her ideas were greeted with outraged cries of "Revisionism!" But by the mid 60s, the revisionism of Social Commentary had become the orthodoxy of the Labour Movement".
- The Labour Party apparatus remained firmly in Gaitskellian hands over the following decades, particularly the International Department of which Denis Healey had been head until he won his seat as an MP. In 1963, The Labour Party's Organisation Subcommittee was chaired by George Brown, one of the CIA's sources in the Labour Party.
- Richard Fletcher Who were they travelling with? CIA and the Labour Party - part 3, How CIA Money Took the Teeth Out of Socialism, Working Class Movement Library.