A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dear Tony,

Rather in the manner of Tony Blair's recently reported fan letter of 1982 to Michael Foot, Neal Lawson of Labour's most self-aware faction, Compass, has humbly and self-effacedly scribbled a missive to the Prime Minister telling him how to run the country and including a helpful quote from Ghandi - http://www.compassonline.org.uk/news_comments.asp?n=148

He offers the comment that "We have not spoken for some time since our political trajectories diverged. " i.e. "we have not spoken since I unsurprisingly failed to become a PPC and decided to undergo a radical image change into a born-again leftie, whilst attacking all the people at No10 who were a) my mates and b) had encouraged me to set up Compass to get back at those nasty rightwing traditionalists in Amicus and the PLP".

In amongst the general diatribe, which makes Lawson sound like he is a typewriter channeling the spirit of Paul Foot and could just as easily have been cut and pasted from here http://www.poptel.org.uk/scgn/ or here http://www.cpgb.org.uk/ or here http://www.workersliberty.org.uk/ one struggled to find a single positive policy idea.

Lawson's get out clause on policy, like David Cameron's, is that a new manifesto is busy being written (by the kind of self appointed anoraks who have nothing better to do than spend their weekends at Compass conferences).

I can't wait to get my hands on this tome in a year's time.

In the mean time it would be quite funny if someone at No10 actually published a reply to Lawson saying exactly what Blair thinks of him.


Blogger A soft socialist said...

Lawson is a Brownite therfore Blair is probabl terrified of him

11:25 pm, June 27, 2006

Blogger El Tom said...

Luke, you have heard of Joseph McCarthy, haven't you?

1:55 am, June 28, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

According to the abusive anonymous post on the thread below I am a Brownite... it must be a broad church! Tom, why is it Mccarthyite to draw attention to Neal's pomposity and his use of portentous, pseudy language and concepts?

6:34 pm, June 29, 2006

Blogger El Tom said...

you are trying to draw links between compass and Marxist groups, some of whom are entrists, without any evidence (or indeed the tiniest scrap of truth) behind such claims.

Are there really reds under the bed?

We aren't even the hard left. sure, some of us were in Democratic Left, and the CPGB. but then, so were the main players in Demos.

I appreciate of course that this may be mere Hyperbole, but it's quite unwarranted Luke; I don't call you a Nazi because you are to the right of me, to do so would be inaccurate, (stereotypically studentish!) and pretty thick.

don't stoop to name calling Luke. concentrate on the argument's, I'm sure you have some.

your response to 'pseudo concepts' is to compare us to the AWL. Nos that's what I call quality of argument.

Sheesh. and you guys accuse us of spin!

PS. when you're in the market for some 'pseudo concepts', go and ask Mr Blair, his are pure quality.

It is a shame that this debate has deteriorated to such a level.

7:06 pm, June 29, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I wasn't trying to draw those links. I was just pointing out that Neal uses language in a similar way to them and his critique of new Labour could just as easily appear in one of their publications. Compass' own website describes the organisation as "we have a history that is both inside and outside of Labour" and talks of "of probably the greatest socialist strategist ever, the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci" - which is odd because I would have awarded that title to John Golding, Peter Mandelson or Herbert Morrison, particularly as Gramsci was a communist not a democratic socialist. It goes on to talk about antecedents "Between Labourism and Communism". The ideological roots of Compass are all on the record here: http://www.compassonline.org.uk/uploads/documents/WhatIsTheDemocraticLeft.doc
I rest my case.

9:07 pm, June 29, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Sorry - the full link is:


9:08 pm, June 29, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Try again:

9:09 pm, June 29, 2006

Blogger El Tom said...

As I have said, I know all about democratic left. Does that mean they are communist now? no. you could say the same thing about this guy for example, or Mandy, or Jack straw, or John Reid. I believe that, correct me if I'm wrong, Milburn was a trot?

that doesn't mean they are now. same for compass. anyway, democratic left is just one of many influences.

where does it stop?

I mean, New Politics Network came from democratic left. jeez, them and their crazy Marxist proportional representation plans.

Furthermore, not that I myself attribute Gramsci any influence over myself, but Id point out that:

"From the beginning we must keep in mind that while a particular kind of socialism was envisioned by Marx, his is just one variant of that ideology. All Marxists are socialists, but not all socialists are Marxists."
-(Baradat 1991), p.166

Communists are socialists who believe in Marxist historical dialectics, as I'm sure you realise.

The man wasn't very democratic in our liberally accepted sense, but he was a socialist. As for the strategy, they had one of the most succesful european communist parties, and he got to the heart of the idea of the military-industrial complex 20 years before anyone else...

more to the point, how many in your wing of the party would call themselves 'democratic socialists'?

Isn't the S word officially banned for blairites? I mean, how is Mandelson a 'socialist strategist'? his strategy was to ditch socialism, as defined in the dictionary, to get labour into power, and I doubt even he would deny that.

and Labourism isn't always good... I mean, look at what Scargill did with it.

You are drawing false allusions, non-existent parrallels between us, the moderate end of the soft left (to the right of tribune?), and all sorts of 'revolutionary' loonopaths.

I think it is sad that you choose to make these incorrect and overtly ad hominem attacks rather than actually debating the actual policy issues, which I'm sure you have the intelligence (but probably not the energy) to do.

The defence also rests, m'lud.

Now, I hear you have an actual real trot antagonist now. can you introduce us? I can't stand the SWP...

3:57 am, June 30, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

No Tom - Communists are not just socialists who believe in a Marxist dialectical materialist analysis of history. It is possible to be a Marxist but believe in parliamentary democracy - that is one of the major traditions in European social democracy - in Russia the Mensheviks. It's a very noble tradition. In contrast communists - whether of a Stalinist, Trot or Eurocommunist hue stem from the Bolshevik/Leninist tradition which explicitly rejected a parliamentary road and emphasised "dictatorship of the proletariat" (i.e. dictatorship of them), violent revolution, a vanguard rather than mass party and democratic centralism (i.e. the party elects a leader then does everything he says).

10:36 am, June 30, 2006

Blogger El Tom said...

that's true actually, there are plenty of reformist Marxists (people in the tradition of Bernstein and te early Social Democratic Foundation). But they don't believe, as per Marx, that revolution is necessary to overthrow the ruling class. you make a good point nonetheless. but I don't think that makes revolutionaries non-socialist... just misguided.

Luke, aren't you a democratic centralist? (tom puts on suspicious face)

2:43 pm, June 30, 2006

Blogger El Tom said...

and how dare people tell the prime minister how to run the country. fucking democracy.

8:03 pm, July 05, 2006


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