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.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Compass vs Brown

Gordon Brown has very publicly backed the replacement of the Trident nuclear deterrent.

The policy is being steered by Defence Secretary Des Browne, one of his allies.

Compass today launched a "Rethink Trident" campaign attacking the Government's policy. The signatories to this show that they have enlisted as allies hard left MPs like Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, Respect's George Galloway, and Lib Dems like Ming Campbell and Shirley Williams (ironically someone who helped split the Labour Party because she opposed unilateralism ... hey there's consistency for you!).

Hopefully once he is PM Brown will remember the position taken by Compass on a policy he has given his personal backing to, and their penchant for alliances of convenience with Labour's most destructive internal oppoositionalists and our external enemies (including the SNP who are trying to exploit the Trident issue to beat Labour in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May).

Neal Lawson and Compass have always tried to trade on alleged links to Brown. I always thought they were exaggerated and that Brown's own politics are on the right of the party. Now they are openly at war with him on one of the central policies that defines whether you are remotely serious about having an electable Labour Party or not. They don't just want to turn the clock back to before 1994, they want to unpick a policy settlement that was arrived at as long ago as 1988.

23 Comments:

Anonymous duncan said...

I can't help feeling there's some bitter irony in me saying this but, it isn't the 1980s mate! I'm no fan of Compass as you know, but rethinking Trident would have exactly zero influence on the electability of the Party. If you tell me its a concern widely raised on doorsteps I won't believe you.

12:30 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

It isn't an issue because Labour shut it down as an issue by adopting a sensible policy on it. The Tories would be rubbing their hands with glee if Labour reopened themselves to attack on any of the 3 key issues Thatcher used to beat us: defence, tax and crime.

12:33 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Anonymous ted harvey said...

Its the Labour party and movement that will internally suffer badly if Labour under Brown stick to pro-replacement of Trident and re-starting the nuclear power station programme AND do so with no meaningful consultation; well, actually with practically no consultation of any sort.

This all spills over into more than Labour being 'electable'... this crass bludgeoning through of such a controversial policy will potentially throw the whole movement back to the bad old days of division and Opposition. It will not be the opposition to the pro-nuclear policies as such that will cause this throwback.

Oh, and in Scotland it is certainly not only the SNP who will be galvanised by the Trident issue. This has grown incrementally into much more of a cross-party issue. The whole Scottish election impact of this issue is made combustible by a mix of the floating or footloose centre voter and a perception that the UK will again dump the Trident nuclear facilities on Scotland.

12:42 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

The facilities aren't "dumped" on Scotland - Faslane is the location that is geographically appropriate for basing Vanguard class subs - securable because it is a loch but with very fast access to the open Atlantic. There aren't any lochs on the English coast and you can't get the subs out into the deep ocean fast enough (Ireland gets in the way!).

The policy is controversial with the self-indulgent bleeding-heart liberal wing of British politics (inside and outside Labour) not with the public, who don't want the country's defence policy written by CND.

If you want the policy changed then you will need to vote for John McDonnell because this one isn't a negotiable for Brown.

12:52 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Anonymous duncan said...

In that respect, at least, I agree with you Luke. I do hope all Labour signatories to this morning's statement will be nominating/voting for John McDonnell.

1:10 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Blogger donpaskini said...

Did you see that Nick Brown signed up to the Compass campaign? Has he stopped being a supporter of Gordon Brown, or is this a sign that the Brownite team is perhaps not as monolithically pro-Trident as you would like?

1:27 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I don't think the Brown team - as opposed to GB himself - are monolithic on any policy - he has supporters from a wide spectrum of stances on many issues. In contrast to Nick Brown, his parliamentary neighbour Doug Henderson, who is an equally ardent Gordon Brown supporter, spoke strongly in favour of the govt position on this issue in the Commons.

1:32 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Blogger donpaskini said...

Sure, but Nick Brown is (or was) part of the team Brown inner circle where policy differences are only allowed if they serve the greater good (e.g. over top-up fees), so I'd be surprised if he'd signed up to this without being given permission to do so.

Point being that backing renewal can't be that big a deal for Gordon Brown if he is allowing his lieutenants to go against the line at this stage (and hence future retribution against Compass is less likely). It also means a rebellion is slightly more likely to succeed.

Though I appreciate your post is not a prediction about what Brown will do, and is instead a suggestion about what he should do :)

1:44 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Anonymous ted harvey said...

Luke you are using out-dated casebook justifications on Faslane. 'Securable'is a nonsense in defense terms - it also means a well-defined target if applied to a loch.

Fast access to the Atlantic from our seaboard is an irrelevance that was dealt long ago and easily by the USSR through technological seabed devices. Moreover, that argument belongs to the 80s and fighting the USSR.

Faslane is wholly unsuitable for any civilised country inthat it is so close to metropolitan Glasgow with a civilian population of some 2.5 million that cannot be protected - The proximity to Faslane was one reason that Glasgow remained as one of the top priority targets for the USSR. This is something that has gone on seeping into the Scottish voters' minds; half-baked, out-moded justifications just stregthen this process

I'm sorry you resort to comments about 'the self-indulgent bleeding-heart liberal wing of British politics'- this is just spreading the spleen and muck about as a cover. I did try to point out the dangers in assuming that this issue was just about the SNP. This deserves more of a response than bile and reactionary rhetoric.

I noticed that you ignored the related nuclear stations issue. Probably wise, given the thorough pounding that the Government got today in the Courts over it's farcical consultation. Today John Robertson came onto R4; did he show any circumspection or wise council? Did he heck, instead he retorted that the nuclear station programme was 'going to happen anyway'.

Hubris comes before the fall if, no matter how good the cause, you handle it in a crass, arrogant and ultimatly divisive way. If it is not negotiable for Brown (I agree) then all the more important for his fraternity to well manage the presentation of policy and the winning of the argument.

3:47 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ted - what planet are you living on?

Please can you let us know the last time any UK government consulted on the issue of reappraisal / replacement / update of our nuclear deterrant.

Can I suggest to you that this Govt is the first?

Also, on the broader issue of Brown v Compass... of course I don't have any inside info but given that a significant number of Compass members are not even Party members, I'm not convinced that Gordon gives two hoots what Neil actually thinks!

Compass, whether it, and close followers realise it is fast becoming a laughing stock. This is just pure political opportunism at its best (in fact worst).

3:57 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Anonymous guido's executioner said...

Guido Fawkes may be arrested. He is a spineless little maggot. I hope he goes down. This amoral cretin is an affront to democracy.

Lock him up and throw away the key!

I urge all progressives to unmask this weasel for the neo-Fascist thug that he is. The liar needs taking down a peg or two ...

7:06 pm, February 15, 2007

 
Anonymous Insider said...

Looks like all Luke's wishes are about to come true :-)

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1392668.ece

12:20 am, February 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Insider said...

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1392668.ece

12:22 am, February 16, 2007

 
Anonymous ted harvey said...

Duh, anon, I dunno what you’re on about :) If you re-read my post you should see that you've maybe missed something.

Of course no Government has consulted on the nuclear issue... the presumption of total secrecy and no accountability has always held on this subject since it was established by Attlee's Labour Government.

I'm not arguing that a Labour Government... or a Labour party contending for power... should commit suicide by honestly just opening up the issue to open and public debate and decision. I think you and I can agree we are on the same planet insofar as we know that's never going to happen, so why expend time and energy on it.

However, what is needed is a certain level of competent policy presentation and management by the Government, and a greater degree of genuine (but appropriate and, again, appropriately managed) internal debate in at least the parliamentary party is required. Otherwise you get into the mess that we have opening up (see again my point about hubris).

Meantime, re my original point to Luke; in the 'herald' this morning a powerfully effective full page advertisement from Greenpeace supposedly 'indicts' the 'guilty pro-nuclear Labour Scottish MPs who. it is alleged are going against the Scottish public opinion of 3 in 4 against nuclear power station building.

We need to perceive and contend with this - and not arrogantly and ineptly ignore it; and, please, no more counter-productive careering around like John Robertson did yesterday on radio.

10:33 am, February 16, 2007

 
Blogger el tom said...

Personally, on this, I'm with Brown.

Luke, why are we 'Labour's most destructive internal oppositionalists'? I'd have them down as Clarke, Milburn and Byers.

Why are we, even from your point of view, worse than the LRC crew?

11:13 am, February 16, 2007

 
Blogger el tom said...

Doug Henderson?

One of my favourite MPs!

Anonymous, your ignorance of what Compass is about is amply displayed by the fact that you can't even spell the chair's name properly. That's all I have to say about that.

Now this:

Please can you let us know the last time any UK government consulted on the issue of reappraisal / replacement / update of our nuclear deterrant.

Can I suggest to you that this Govt is the first?


You don't read the newspapers, do you? have you heard of judicial review mate?

11:20 am, February 16, 2007

 
Anonymous David Floyd said...

"Compass, whether it, and close followers realise it is fast becoming a laughing stock."

Well, it's a centre-left campaigning organisation that has a big enough membership and public profile to be aggressively denounced by its opponents.

Personally, I'd rather we weren't campaigning on Trident - it puts on platforms with people I'd rather we weren't sharing platforms with and it's a distraction from a practical agenda for greater equality - but the reason why we are, is that it issue that's very important to large numbers of our members.

12:11 pm, February 16, 2007

 
Blogger HenryG said...

David, I think there is some link between equality and renewing trident. It will cost a lot of money which critics would say could be spent elsewhere. On the other hand you could argue that renewing trident will increase and maintain UK jobs, which will help those families out of poverty.

I don't see it as an either/or issue, but for many on the left it seems that the passions against Trident are about the huge cost as much as what it will be used for.

12:57 pm, February 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HenryG:

'On the other hand you could argue that renewing trident will increase and maintain UK jobs, which will help those families out of poverty.'

A very weak argument. You could argue the same about drug dealers keeping a roof over their childrens heads.

1:10 pm, February 16, 2007

 
Anonymous BinThe Bomb said...

yeah , a bit like the jobs argument on the Manchester Casino ----utterly crap.If Gordon is gettibng cast adrift from Compass so be it. It's increasingly clear his regime will be no different to the current modus vivendi.If the PLP lies down and lets him roll over they deserve to lose the next election.Sadly, I suspect they will.

6:19 pm, February 16, 2007

 
Blogger el tom said...

Personally, I'd rather we weren't campaigning on Trident - it puts on platforms with people I'd rather we weren't sharing platforms with and it's a distraction from a practical agenda for greater equality - but the reason why we are, is that it issue that's very important to large numbers of our members.

Amen, brother, Amen. Personally I'm all up for some shiny new subs, in return for a reasonable cut in warheads (which is what blair suggests), but there you go...

5:55 pm, February 18, 2007

 
Anonymous stan rosenthal said...

According to David Floyd Compass is campaigning on Trident because "it's an issue that's very important to large numbers of our members". Is it? The ballot was sent out to 2000 Compass members and no less than 14,000 non-members (which no doubt included many CND'ers). For the past few weeks I've been trying to pin down the Compass MC on the breakdown between member and non-member votes on this issue. To no avail, of course. Visit the Compass website (the Miranda Grell and Trident threads) to see how the Compass leadership are wriggling to get off this particular hook.

5:30 pm, February 20, 2007

 
Anonymous Activist ! said...

Very Many Thanks for kindly signing (and circulating) this New Downing Street Petition at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/AbolishGMC

8:53 pm, February 25, 2007

 

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