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 03, 2008

Obligatory dig at Compass

From the Compass website:

"Local Convenors (UK wide)
As part of the ongoing development of Compass, this autumn we’ll be encouraging the formation of local groups across the UK. This is a crucial step for Compass to continue to build its membership, to increase its influence and not just be seen as a London operation.
It’s envisaged these will meet on a monthly basis to primarily discuss Compass ideas – in particular hold discussions themed around Compass publications. At present there is a lack of quality progressive debate at the local level – the purpose of these groups will be to revitalise political debate at the local level around the key issues/challenges facing the democratic left.
In addition we want groups to be action focused around particular policy campaigns Compass is advocating at the national level. Another important role is linking to other groups – such as trade union branches, community action groups and local groups of members from other pressure groups. We want groups to become positive change-makers in their local area."

Now call me old-fashioned but if I considered myself on the left, and had gone to the bother of joining a group aiming to influence Labour's future direction I would

a) stand to be secretary or campaigns officer of my local Labour Party (or to be a local councillor) not "Compass Local Convenor"
b) try to get "quality progressive debate at the local level" going at my local Labour branch or CLP, where there might be people that disagreed with me (isn't that what "debate" is about) rather than setting up separate little grouplets to have a Compass love-in
c) be so busy campaigning on both issues and elections with my local Labour comrades in one happy, comradely team that I wouldn't have time for separate campaigns under the "Compass" banner that by definition bring no political benefit to the Labour Party
d) link to trade unions and socialist societies through the structures of the Labour Party they set up, rather than inviting them to provide a token proletarian presence at the Compass monthly whine/wine and cheese.
e) believe that the body best suited to being "positive change-makers in their local area" was the Labour Party

What are these clowns on?

Compass is starting to take on all the characteristics of a political party - an HQ, staff including a "General Secretary", an annual conference, local organisers, local branches, its own campaigns, its own regular meetings, its own relationships with unions and other groups outside Labour's structures - albeit a rather absurd political party with no organic roots in the working class, a leadership personality cult and policies last taken seriously at NUS conferences in the late '70s.

At least if they spend their time in exclusive conclaves it gives them less chance to screw up their local Labour Parties.

40 Comments:

Anonymous henryg said...

Your criticisms are working on the assumption that everyone in compass is also in the Labour Party. I don't know what percentage are, but I'd say probably half to two thirds. Which of course has its own political implications.

5:32 pm, June 03, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

That makes their role even more pernicious. A "Trojan Horse" - but for whom?

5:45 pm, June 03, 2008

 
Anonymous Dave Spart said...

The Socialist Party of England and Wales? The Guild of Stalking Photographers? The New Old Labour Party?

5:56 pm, June 03, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Strange - Progress have operated in much the same way, with local conferences and so on. Only of course all the policies were pre-set and spun beforehand.

Of course, what Compass might do is attract people who are no longer members of the Labour party, and that may help to rejuvenate the utterly moribund and failing local parties in many areas of the country, where activists have left as they simply cannot stomach supporting policies they don;t believe in. People who don't agree with the Government's agenda aren't going to rejoin Labour unless there is a realistic chance of changing it.

There is certainly a need to discuss and develop ideas - something which New Labour's failed and discredited 'policy forum' processes have never got to grips with. Frankly, this will be easier without the presence of reactionary, conservative forces who still can't accept that New Labour have nothing to offer.

It is only when Labour change that they will, in turn, have anything positive to offer to the country. In the meantime, they hurtle towards a wipeout at the next election. And if they are too stupid to see it - tough, that's their lookout.

And with a Tory government, the days of funding coming primarily from the unions may face challenge.

6:04 pm, June 03, 2008

 
OpenID stuartbrucepr said...

Usually I agree with you Luke, but I think you're totally wrong on this one. As much as I don't agree with and dislike Compass they do have a valid point here.

Labour Party structures are totally and utterly useless for policy discussion/formulation (and not entirely great for campaigning).

I don't think any of your ideas are sensible alternatives. The only bit I can agree with is C about being too busy already.

That's why what we need is a radical overhaul of Labour Party structures to haul it in to the 21st century.

The reason that I don't like the idea of Compass forming local groups is because of the totally loony ideas they will inevitably come up with.

The party should be providing suitable structures for modern policy debate and campaigning. Just shutting your eyes and pretending that what we've got works, just doesn't wash.

6:08 pm, June 03, 2008

 
Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

And, as expected, the obligatory long comment...

"Labour Party structures are totally and utterly useless for policy discussion/formulation (and not entirely great for campaigning).

I don't think any of your ideas are sensible alternatives. The only bit I can agree with is C about being too busy already.

That's why what we need is a radical overhaul of Labour Party structures to haul it in to the 21st century.

The reason that I don't like the idea of Compass forming local groups is because of the totally loony ideas they will inevitably come up with.

The party should be providing suitable structures for modern policy debate and campaigning. Just shutting your eyes and pretending that what we've got works, just doesn't wash."

I think Stuart pretty much says what I'd say on that one (loony stuff aside, obviously). I'd love it if I felt like I could change the party by only working within it to talk it round to my point of view.

But I have absolutely zero power to change policy (all I can do is 'suggest' it to people who are there precisely because they disagree with me). There is no way to discuss policy in any depth at Party meetings (which is why the fabians, progress, compass and the LRC all have their own structures).

With regard to organic roots in the working class, I reckon that, unfortunately, due to blair's reforms, it makes no difference if you have them any more, unless you're electing leaders. It would be stupid for small-ish and new-ish political organisations to put all their effort, for that reason, into, say, union work.But compass does have organic roots in other community organisations. Hopefully it can grow there, and in the unions.

From my perspective (I assume a lot of Compass people are like me), there is very little chance of Labour wanting to hear or take up any new Social-democratic / Democratic socialist ideas. It is far too conservative at the top.

As Mike says, "There is certainly a need to discuss and develop ideas - something which New Labour's failed and discredited 'policy forum' processes have never got to grips with. Frankly, this will be easier without the presence of reactionary, conservative forces who still can't accept that New Labour have nothing to offer.

It is only when Labour change that they will, in turn, have anything positive to offer to the country. In the meantime, they hurtle towards a wipeout at the next election. And if they are too stupid to see it - tough, that's their lookout."

So the only alternative is to apply political pressure, and to do that, you need to get organised. If people won't take democratic left ideas on board, then democrats on the left must organise to carry them out themselves, or provide irresistible pressure to make sure that they happen.

If we can't get Labour leaders to make ideas like feed in tariffs, progressivising taxation, co-productive public sector reforms etc, then we have to make them do it, or carry them out ourselves. precisely because unions will support this, Labour is the only party capable of creating a social-democratic society.

The key is in making it willing.

Once I get some leaflets without xenophobic discrimination, bashing of minorities (e.g. students) and 'weirdos' in, I'll be a lot happier to spend less time doing compass stuff. I'd rather fight for what I believe in than fight for misguided toryism. Compass gives people like me an opportunity to do that.

I get to fight tories on the doorstep with Labour, and tories in the local, inside Labour. I'm happy with both.

With regards to 'outside Labour', we're mostly talking about groups like London citizens, war on want, etc. Pressure groups, basically, who we believe have a social-democratic agenda.

"That makes their role even more pernicious. A "Trojan Horse" - but for whom?"

Democratic Socialists.Though I believe a more apt question is "for what?".

Empower (and in places, un-ban) social democracy, and the social democrats will have no need to organise as a faction. Simple, really.

The alternative is that we organise to win for electable, but clearly democratic left ideas... though of course, I accept, some would consider that these are mutually exclusive adjectives.

The first stage of that is getting some clout and cohesion to actually organise with.

Luke, how often do Labour First meet? Got yourself a regional network? an email list or two, perhaps?

6:40 pm, June 03, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Now call me old-fashioned but if I considered myself on the left, and had gone to the bother of joining a group aiming to influence Labour's future direction I would......

e) believe that the body best suited to being "positive change-makers in their local area" was the Labour Party"

The trouble here Luke, is that increasing numbers of us don't belive that the Labour party is "the body best suited to being positive change-makers" any longer. I certainly would never consider joining Labour myself as I don't see what it stands for other then grabbing power at any cost.

And to that end I think it makes sense for people like Compass to try and reach out to people who feel that the Labour party is no longer the vehicle for progressive politics that it used to be. Whether it will actually work is another matter of course.

7:16 pm, June 03, 2008

 
Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

Luke, I agree with the comment you are plain wrong on this one. Can't you see the bleeding obvious lessons for the Labour Party controllers? I would only repeat and agree with what others have said here:

Stuartbrucepr:
"Usually I agree with you Luke, but I think you're totally wrong on this one. As much as I don't agree with and dislike Compass they do have a valid point here.

Labour Party structures are totally and utterly useless for policy discussion/formulation (and not entirely great for campaigning)."

Merseymike:
"Of course, what Compass might do is attract people who are no longer members of the Labour party, and that may help to rejuvenate the utterly moribund and failing local parties in many areas of the country, where activists have left as they simply cannot stomach supporting policies they don;t believe in. People who don't agree with the Government's agenda aren't going to rejoin Labour unless there is a realistic chance of changing it."

10:03 pm, June 03, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke me thinks your protests are a little hollow and hypocritical. What is the difference between the way Progress operate and the way that Compass operate? Other than, you support the former in terms of policies ideas - and you oppose the latter.

11:14 pm, June 03, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Actually I would criticise Progress for going too far in the opposite direction and being purely a political education forum when some of its resources could be used to fight the left organisationally. Progress unfortunately doesn't make any practical contribution to the work done by for instance Labour First in NEC elections.

I'm in favour of people being able to organise and network in currents, factions, discussion groups or whatever - I do myself and it's healthy in a broad political party.

Where Compass is going too far is with building a structure that mimics that of a political party per se and seems to be creating a whole arena for political activism that actually rivals rather than just feeds into the formal structures of the Labour Party.

11:33 pm, June 03, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

That's because the Labour party doesn't have any genuinely participatory structures by which ordinary members can have their say. Active discussion and thinking simply isn't encouraged - unless it is in line with the current dominant tendency.

11:47 pm, June 03, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Mike, that just doesn't sound like any of the CLPs I've been a member of. I'd like to see anyone try to make the average Labour member fall into "line with the current dominant tendency" (whatever that is!).

11:54 pm, June 03, 2008

 
Blogger E10 Rifle said...

That answers only half the question Luke. Sure, CLPs remain a diverse hubbub of opinion and thought, but this is effectively no longer allowed to manifest itself in INFLUENCE. People may passionately air a range of differing opinions at a CLP meeting but in terms of making those opinions effectively felt through the democratic decision-making process, there's hardly anything there anymore. The party's internal democracy is now fundamentally disempowering.

1:18 am, June 04, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Luke, the party I was a member of until I left had reached the stage where meetings rarely attracted more than 20 people. And I found that speaking out firmly against the Iraq war wasn't appreciated in some quarters!

It was very much the case that the party seemed to have retreated into talking about local issues simply because of the dissatisfaction with many areas of government policy - as if it wasn't good for morale.

But the real problem is that the policy forum system - which I welcomed at the time - simply hasn't worked. Although the 'resolution' system wasn't particularly satisfactory, it did mean that anyone could raise a resolution and get it discussed knowing that there was somewhere it could go - the policy forum system didn't work because people were presented with pre-considered, anodyne policy documents which we had to comment on. e10 rifle is absolutely right in what he says, and I think you have to realise that this is how many people think.

I think the fact that Labour has lost over half its membership in 10 years says it all. People will not join a party unless they feel they are being listened to, and I don't think that those who feel the government have taken the wrong direction are given a chance to influence proceedings. The Compass structures may provide this opportunity and then if the party actually sets up structures to allow members to have an influence, the local activity will be there in a way which it just isn't in much of the country now.

10:14 am, June 04, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:42 am, June 04, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

That's strange because most local Labour parties it would have been being in favour of the Iraq war that made you unpopular. 20 people at a meeting - was that a branch (in which case very healthy) or GC (in which case average) or all-member CLP meeting (in which case low)?

10:54 am, June 04, 2008

 
Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

Luke I'm sorry but you are just not listening. Pointless discussion at dwindling groups at CP level and that influence no-one at the control level in the Party, are the reality.Confirmed by the reality of thre collapse of membership in the Party.

Do you think that if people thought for one minute that they could genuinly influence Labour Party and Government policy through these channels they would waste their time with the likes of Compass... or Porgress? These people are committed to influencing and changing - and the reality is that they are tuning their backs on the formal Party appartus.

Please; folks like yourself have to start listening and really responding meaningfully (not just reduce yourself to baleful comments about 'clowns' in other parts of the left where genuine, however misguided, endeavour is under way).

11:34 am, June 04, 2008

 
Blogger E10 Rifle said...

"That's strange because most local Labour parties it would have been being in favour of the Iraq war that made you unpopular"

Heh, a nice and honest admission that most Labour members' opinions count for nothing on important policy areas. You're not exactly selling the whole 'getting involved in CLP affairs' thing here.

12:11 pm, June 04, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ultra-loyalist view on influencing party policy seems to be that you should do as much activism for Labour as possible, i.e. dedicate all your weekends to canvassing, attend every local meeting, maybe even go to conference to cheer for the leadership infront of cameras, don't rock the boat too much but over time you'll gradually meet some people more important than yourself who will at least listen politely to your ideas before completely ignoring you. But there is always the possibility that those who are very good at charming others or who dedicate their lives wholly to the party may just end up in those positions of influence.

It's not surprising that most normal people can't be arsed to go though all this.

Surely in this age of communication it should be possible for a political party to provide effective ways for ordinary people to join up to contribute policy ideas and opinions.

3:57 pm, June 04, 2008

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

Spot on Luke. Well -ish. It will not take off anyway, so we could just let 1000 flowers not grow and be done with it.

Had no idea that Compass was not Labour through and through. No wonder the supposed parliamentary group answerable to them are not outing themselves. A party within (and without) a party anyone? Do they even have the provisos of the Co-op Party of the LRC about accepting no members who are in electorally active orgs other than the LP?

There are enough meetings around anyway. CLPs and LGCs and Branches can provide opportunities to discuss policy - three times a month for GCs, six times with ECs. That with occasional special meetings is probably enough. And in Manchester anyway at least some of these bodies do already debate politics and policy.

4:09 pm, June 04, 2008

 
Blogger Daniel E said...

Labour party groups outside official party control? With Non-Labour members in them? Please G-d No! we don't want to end up with a moveon.org (outraising $millions for democrat candidates) or a Desir D'Avenir (the only growing part of a french left that is dying on its feet, and is helpuing segolne Royal modernise the PS, which really is stick in a statist past) over here. That would be a disaster!!!!

6:47 pm, June 04, 2008

 
Anonymous Rich said...

Brown still being a complele twat and once again refusing to back down over car tax increases.

A tax which will hurt the poorest motorists and will do nothing to lower fuel consumption.

Browns green argument is completely flawed as for most people there simply isn't a choice. They have to use their car and the car they have they are stuck with because they can't afford to change it. So far this government has failed to tackle congestion despite the highest motoring costs in Europe.


Surely it would have been wiser to give huge tax breaks i.e tax free on fuel efficient cars such as the prius or the new honda.

7:24 pm, June 04, 2008

 
Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"I'm in favour of people being able to organise and network in currents, factions, discussion groups or whatever - I do myself and it's healthy in a broad political party.

Where Compass is going too far is with building a structure that mimics that of a political party per se and seems to be creating a whole arena for political activism that actually rivals rather than just feeds into the formal structures of the Labour Party."

Essentially, you're all up for factions, but not when they get big, or successful.

Unless you happen to support them.

On Chris's point above, he need only look at the Compass constitution (on the website) to realise that membership follows the same membership rules as Progress and the fabians. Membership demands that members act compatibly with LP rules, (S2.2), and that they are not members of another election contesting political party (S.3). Same as progress.

Compass is not so much 'turning away' from the quite frankly rubbish systems of activist impotence in the party.

The situation is more along the lines that Compass was actually formed because a great deal of activists already had, and they need something to fight for, and a way to win, if they are to ever return.

On the MPs group, I think it's too informal to be considered a unit in the same way as the SCG/ This is a 'soft' left, after all!

I'm not convinced that there is a standing membership, more a loose association that changes depending on the subject of the vote. OS who they are is pretty much impossible to say in the first place.

At least, that's my external view of it, though you'd have to ask Mr Trickett to be sure.

On a final point, the word 'influence' is getting chucked around here. I don't believe that democracy is about thee demos exercising there influence. It's about demos using their bleeding kratos.

People should have power, not 'a right to be heard' (and totally ignored).

Current structures will not allow this, and the top of the party and the associated bureaucracy is hellbent on preserving the status quo too.

Which means that other methods must be found.

In my view, if the party leadership is happy with pushing people outside of the tent, so long as they follow the rulebook, it has little moral authority to complain about them pissing in.

Chris,

"There are enough meetings around anyway. CLPs and LGCs and Branches can provide opportunities to discuss policy - three times a month for GCs, six times with ECs. That with occasional special meetings is probably enough. And in Manchester anyway at least some of these bodies do already debate politics and policy."

On a local elevel that is of course extremely useful. But what if you want to change policy, and you want to do it nationally?

I'd say that, given the uselessness of PiP, even when reformed, a good place to start is by organising nationally.

8:35 pm, June 04, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Face it Luke, what you really loathe and detest is that a group might actually challenge the supremacy of Labour First to carve things up on the ground.

10:23 am, June 05, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Compass are just preparing to take over when the Labour Party is made bankrupt by all the loans taken out by Blair and Levy!

Interesting to reflect that had past Labour leaders taken the same 'must win the next general election at all costs' attitude, there probably wouldn't be a party left for us to join.

10:27 am, June 05, 2008

 
Anonymous David Floyd said...

"Had no idea that Compass was not Labour through and through. No wonder the supposed parliamentary group answerable to them are not outing themselves. A party within (and without) a party anyone? Do they even have the provisos of the Co-op Party of the LRC about accepting no members who are in electorally active orgs other than the LP?"

Compass has the same rules on membership of other parties as the Fabians. To be a full, voting member of Compass you have to either be a Labour member or eligible to be a Labour Party member.

You can be an associate, non-voting member of Compass if you're a member of another party.

Anyway, I don't especially disagree with Luke on the general point.

I don't see who benefits or what is likely to be achieved if Compass starts to do things that replicate the functions of a political party.

I'm unconvinced there's a large section of the population who are disengaged from broad-based political parties but likely to become strongly engaged with broad-based multi-issue political pressure groups.

Political parties are broad-based multi-issue pressure groups that stand in elections and try to change things.

Why get heavily involved in organisation which enables you to say lots of stuff and change nothing?

The structures in America, that produce things like Moveon.org, are very different.

That said, maybe the aim of these moves is just to create a slightly more edgy version of the Fabian Society?

11:40 am, June 05, 2008

 
Blogger susan said...

What COMPASS is doing echoes what the LRC started to do a year ago ie set up regional groups. You cannot be a member of another political party and join the LRC - I'm surprised this is the case in COMPASS.
I will start being impressed by COMPASS when they stop being "soft" and start doing something to seriously challenge Brown's neo-liberalism rather than moan ever so faintly and wring their hands - then support the Government As Cruddas and Trickett did this week on the Planning Bill

12:53 pm, June 05, 2008

 
Anonymous David Floyd said...

"You cannot be a member of another political party and join the LRC - I'm surprised this is the case in COMPASS."

There's a significant number of members of the LRC who are members of another party which backed a non-Labour candidate in the recent London mayoral election. To be fair to those concerned, they're hardly secretive about it.

But theoretical rules for LRC and Compass regarding full voting membership are exactly the same.

With Compass, as with the Fabians if we want to be an associate member and get copies of publications etc. but not vote, you can do so while being a member of another party.

4:14 pm, June 05, 2008

 
Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"Political parties are broad-based multi-issue pressure groups that stand in elections and try to change things."

Labour isn't. That's the whole point. It needs people who are interested in such a setup brought into it and organised.

Labour in an electoral sense is a narrowly based pressure group that attempts to fix itself in power to hegemonise the opinions and interests of the middle one percent. And of course keep anyone with money to oppose them happy, at the same time.

Organisationally, unions have less influence over the party than ever before. They, along with party members, are expected to tag along, shut up, and absorb whatever is thrown at them with which they disagree.

I'm for a bigger tent. With less tories and far more progressives.

The Party leadership and structures are not, and accordingly, must be subjected to pressure. They also need to know how we feel, in order to inform their own decisions.

I think having regional groups is one of many ways of organising towards these ends.

4:35 pm, June 05, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

The point is that discussions in the Labour party itself don't go anywhere because the leadership shows contempt for any opinion which isn't in line with its view.

So, an organisation whose aim is to renew the democratic left may well be of greater appeal particularly for those of us who won't join Labour again under the present climate.

4:55 pm, June 05, 2008

 
Anonymous David Floyd said...

"Labour isn't. That's the whole point. It needs people who are interested in such a setup brought into it and organised."

I agree, so why is Compass setting up separate local organisations.

"Organisationally, unions have less influence over the party than ever before."

Unite have just appointed the General Secretary.

6:29 pm, June 05, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Because until the rules are changed, there is no way of reforming the party itself at local level.

Simply ask yourslef why membership has more than halved - and stop making excuses.

7:40 pm, June 05, 2008

 
Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

david floyd so misses the point when he asserts:

"Political parties are broad-based multi-issue pressure groups that stand in elections and try to change things."

His statement encapsulates all that is now wrong with the Labour Party. It is not broad based - it has increasingly since Neil Kinnock pressed out dissent and even diversity. It is not a pressure group that tries to change things. It's present contention is 'vote for us because we are the more competant managers of the status quo'.

Both Blair and Brown accepted the mantle of Thatcherism with a bit of softening and presentational spin - hence the popular mantra of Thatcher-Blatcher-and-now-Bratcher.

Those of us who were sold on the need for a bit of the Blair style and presentation to make Labour electorally acceptable to 'middle England', understood that was meant to be on the way to subsequent fundamental reforms across the whole range of economic, social and constitutional matters. When you look at the Blair legacy and Brown's continuance, it's almost laughable if it were not so tragic to think that so many of us fell for that original proposition for so long. The disengagement has been long, painfiul and sordid.

9:38 pm, June 05, 2008

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

Membership has not more than halved only because of the machinations of the project.

Memberships have tended to go down of many things in the period and they went up fairly seriously in the pre-win Blair years as people rallied round the anti-Tory, anti-Thatcher flag. But then job-done they lapsed.

Now the flag to rally round is the one for kicking out the project. Kicking out Brown. Moaning and whining. Forgetting how relatively wealthy even our poorest citizens are after 11 years of NL.

Compass do a hell of a lot of huffing and puffing but it's often heat and light signifying nothing.

Adding this to the diary in regions, areas, cities and towns may not be a great contribution.

12:06 am, June 06, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Chris: I don't think you are facing reality. I was chatting to a friend I hadn't seen for a while yesterday (whose sister works for the party!). I knew her when we were both very active - she has now left as well and like me, may not vote Labour next time. And the point is that people didn't just drift away from the party - OK, some did, but many made a decision to cease their membership.

And yes - I DO want to kick out the 'project' because it is past its sell by. And if the 'project' doesn't go, then I see no reason why I should vote for a party who are doing things I think are simply unacceptable .

8:35 am, June 06, 2008

 
Anonymous David Floyd said...

"His statement encapsulates all that is now wrong with the Labour Party. It is not broad based - it has increasingly since Neil Kinnock pressed out dissent and even diversity."

Well, the extent to which it's broad-based in policy terms surely depends on the political effectiveness of people arguing for different policy positions.

"It is not a pressure group that tries to change things. It's present contention is 'vote for us because we are the more competant managers of the status quo'.""

The Labour government has changed things. From my point of view, not all these changes have made things better and some have made things worse but the Party has been effecting change for the last eleven years.

I'm not opposed to Compass. Most of us who were on the centre-left of the Labour Party before it existed are extremely grateful for its existence.

My concern is about setting up a national structure to replicate the Labour Party rather than fighting within the Labour Party.

11:52 am, June 06, 2008

 
Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

Chris said:

“Membership has not more than halved only because of the machinations of the project.”

Oh well, that’s OK then.

“in the pre-win Blair years as people rallied round the anti-Tory, anti-Thatcher flag. But then job-done they lapsed.”

No they didn’t – they left in growing numbers in growing disgust at Blair (and by the way, Thatcher was gone by the ‘pre-Blair’ stage) – or they were pressed out as I referred to earlier.

“Forgetting how relatively wealthy even our poorest citizens are after 11 years of NL.”

Note that sneaky wee word ‘relatively’. But anyway it is highly contestable how true that is. I was at the Oliver James talk in Glasgow last night on Affluenza where he pointed up emerging evidence that in absolute and relative terms since the 1970s virtually the only group to have done better AND sustained this uplift, is the very well-off. Meantime, even if we accept that term ‘relative’; what is not contestable is that social mobility and inequality is growing.

David Floyd said of the Labour Party:

“Well, the extent to which it's broad-based in policy terms surely depends on the political effectiveness of people arguing for different policy positions.”

Well quite – the extent of sheer ruthlessness and the amoral ‘efficiency’ of the New Labour Project controllers is what has determined (i.e. limited and manipulated) the extent to which the Party is broad-based in policy terms. The more and more you are intolerant of dissent or diversity, the less and less broad is your policy development base. As Mandelson was reported to have said “ I don’t want party members, I want party supporters”.

Going by what Luke and others have posted here, having ran out of targets to press out from within the Party they are now looking outside it.

1:03 pm, June 06, 2008

 
Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"My concern is about setting up a national structure to replicate the Labour Party rather than fighting within the Labour Party."

Well, for me, the Cruddas campaign and other examples show that Compass doesn't have the requisite force on the ground to do these things (though it was still a strong showing, climate considered).

So the primary issue is one of how such capacity can be built.

As for 'change', I'd like to contrast it to 'changes'... bits of tinkering. What I want to see is a change in the relationships between the least advantaged and the most. That has changed, but negatively.

I'd dispute Chris's earlier point. I believe that the poor are now relatively poorer.

And we're just about to miss a modest child poverty target for the second time in a row.

The set-up isn't working, in my view.

Of course it needs defending; the tory alternative is unthinkable regression; but it also needs improving, despite any protestations from the ruling strata of the party.

4:22 pm, June 08, 2008

 
Anonymous David Floyd said...

"Well, for me, the Cruddas campaign and other examples show that Compass doesn't have the requisite force on the ground to do these things (though it was still a strong showing, climate considered).

So the primary issue is one of how such capacity can be built."

So are you saying that the capacity for fighting for change within the Labour Party will be delivered by people who will not be members of the Labour Party?

If yes, I can see some problems there.

I'm all for working with progressive people in other parties and none on specific issues but, once you start doing that in a general sense, surely you're actually forming a new party?

If no, I don't see why the stuff being suggested can't be done in conjunction with local Labour parties.

7:05 pm, June 08, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Because New Labour types will crush it at birth, as Luke so clearly shows.

They just don't want this sort of debate - they want supporters to promote the leadership creed.

10:57 pm, June 08, 2008

 

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