It has long been Britain’s most political cycling club, counting the suffragettes and the Labour party founder Keir Hardie among its pelotons.
Founded in a Labour church in Birmingham in 1894 as a two-wheeled spin-off of the Clarion leftwing magazine, the Clarion Cycling Club’s early members used to pedal around the countryside putting socialist stickers on cows and trees , spreading leftist propaganda like fertiliser.
But 126 years later, with membership booming, what is now the National Clarion Club (motto: Fellowship is Life) has voted to remove a reference to socialism from its constitution, after a majority of members decided it was “divisive and non-inclusive” and could alienate new members.
Two-thirds of Clarion members voted at the annual general meeting (AGM) to replace “support for the principles of socialism” with support for “fairness, equality, inclusion and diversity”.
Those who opposed the motion have accused the national club of “trying to erase history”. One warned there would “almost certainly be a split”, with some chapters threatening to form a breakaway organisation.
Tim Mitchell, secretary of the Saddleworth Clarion in Greater Manchester, which has more than 100 members on the old Lancashire and Yorkshire border, said: “It’s wrong to turn our backs on our history. In my eyes it’s denying what we are and what we were. No one was suggesting that members have to wave a red flag around, but you can’t erase history. There’s a line that goes back in the Clarion all the way to Keir Hardie and the suffragettes.”
He was particularly cross […]