MORE than half of Labour's 62 Euro-MPs have joined the growing

rebellion against leader Tony Blair's plans to rewrite Clause Four of

the party's constitution.

They placed a front-page advertisement in today's Guardian attacking

any revision of the 56 words which have been the party's guiding

principle since 1918, committing Labour to ''common ownership of the

means of production, distribution and exchange''. Among the signatories

are Strathclyde West's Hugh McMahon and Alex Smith, of South of


The move, adding to the pressure on Mr Blair over his radical bid to

modernise the party, comes on the day he makes his European debut in

Brussels as party leader.

A total of 32 MEPs have signed a statement demanding the retention of

Clause Four.

Alex Falconer, MEP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: ''Just over half

of the British Labour MEPs are behind this advertisement, but many more

are unhappy with the way this whole thing has been handled over Clause


He went on: ''With Britain and the rest of the world in crisis, this

is no time to jettison this powerful weapon for social and economic


''We oppose privatisation and believe that common ownership should

remain part of Labour's core beliefs and values. That is why we have

called for the retention of Clause Four part four in its present form,

and for a separate statement to express the party's aims today.''

The appearance of the advertisement will mar Mr Blair's emergence on

the European stage at a #500-a-head dinner in Brussels being hosted by

Labour and attended by senior executives from nearly 100 leading

companies, including Marks and Spencer, NatWest Bank, Coca Cola and


Mr Blair will join them after a half-day conference designed to

''establish close working links and a constructive dialogue between

business and the Labour party at a European level'' according to Wayne

David, leader of Labour's Euro-MPs.

At the same time, former Labour leader Neil Kinnock will be

establishing his credentials in Brussels as a new Euro Commissioner.

It is his turn tomorrow to be grilled by MEPs who are vetting all

incoming Commissioners before they take up their #130,000-a-year posts

later this month.

Meanwhile, at Labour's business conference, any profits made will go

to the party's fighting fund for the next general election.

Mr David said the topics on tomorrow's agenda will include economic

policy, environment and consumer protection, social affairs and trade.

''This event will show Labour working in the heart of Europe,'' he


Mr David was not asked to join the Euro-Labour revolt against Clause

Four, to avoid compromising the group leader in Europe.

The full list of signatories is:

Richard Balfe (London South Inner); David Bowe (Cleveland and

Richmond); Roger Barton (Sheffield); Ken Coates (North Nottingham and

Chesterfield); Peter Crampton (Humberside); Alan Donnelly (Tyne and

Wear); Mike Elliott (London West); Robert Evans (London North West);

Alex Falconer; David Hallam (Hereford and Shrophire); Mike Hindley

(Lancashire South);

Stephen Hughes (Durham and Blaydon); Hugh Kerr (Essex West and

Hertfordshire East); Alf Lomas (London North East); Mike McGowan

(Leeds); Hugh McMahon; Eryl McNally (Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes);

Tom Megahy (Yorkshire South West); David Morris (South Wales West);

Clive Needle (Norfolk); Stan Newens (London Central); Eddy Newman

(Greater Manchester Central); Chris Oddy (Coventry and North

Warwickshire); Barry Seal (Yorkshire West); Alex Smith;

Shaun Spiers (London South East); Ken Stewart (Merseyside West): David

Thomas (Suffolk and South-west Norfolk); Sue Waddington (Leicester);

Norman West (Yorkshire South); Ian White (Bristol); Joe Wilson (North


Shadow foreign secretary Robin Cook said that the move by the MEPs was

''very unfortunate'' and out of step with opinion in the party at large.

''What we have started here is a process of debate,'' he said on

Channel 4 News.

''I think it is very unfortunate that some people are wishing to

suggest that there should not be a debate on what replaces Clause 4,

that the party should simply dig in behind a text which is now over 80

years old.''