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.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Compass commits political suicide

Regular readers will know I've always been scornful of soft left faction Compass.

My distaste increased when they advocated tactical voting for the Lib Dems in the 2010 General Election.

Rather than the Lib Dems' subsequent coalition (merger?) with the Tories and promotion of Thatcherite economics and cuts having been a lesson for Compass, it has ploughed on in similar vein.

Today it announced a 68% vote in a membership ballot for allowing members of other political parties to join it. Presumably the Greens, SWPers, Lib Dems or self-defined progressive Tories that might join will get a say in the stance Compass takes in internal Labour debates. Compass is thus going to be acting as a Trojan Horse into the Labour Party for our political opponents at exactly the moment that the behaviour of the Lib Dems in the Coalition is proving that all progressives should be Labour members, and that the idea that there is a plurality of parties on the centre-left is at least temporarily redundant.

I hope the 32% of opponents in Compass of this "opening up" to other parties will walk out and find a new political home.

There ought to be a voice and a home in the Party for soft left activists who are also partisan Labour loyalists. Compass can no longer provide than home.

This may prove to be as decisive a moment in the history of Labour's internal political currents as the "realignment of the left", when Compass' predecessor the LCC (Labour Coordinating Committee) quit the Bennite Rank and File Mobilising Committee in the mid-'80s to become a tactical ally of the right of the Party in support of Kinnock.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Confused said...

Well if Compass has committed suicide that means it must be dead. Shouldn't you be pleased?

11:14 pm, February 25, 2011

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think political suicide is a bit of hyperbole.

But when you say "There ought to be a voice and a home in the Party for soft left activists who are also partisan Labour loyalists. Compass can no longer provide than home" you are totally right. And that's why I've now left Compass.

1:24 am, February 26, 2011

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Rather than the Lib Dems' subsequent coalition (merger?) with the Tories and promotion of Thatcherite economics and cuts having been a lesson for Compass, it has ploughed on in similar vein"

I don't give a monkey's about Luke versus Compass. However, I would point out that Gordon Brown showed himself to be a 'good' disciple of Margaret Thatcher with his cuts in corporation tax and Capital Gains Tax, privatisation, de-regulation etc.

Brown even welcomed Thatcher into Downing Street as part of his strategy for winning over Conservative voters. It is difficult to see how anybody would
wish to meet someone as rightwing as that but Thatcher did not seem to mind!

10:15 am, February 26, 2011

 
Anonymous Richard Cotton said...

Luke,

I broadly agree with most of what you say and I voted for you for the NEC election. But you are no different from Compass in cosying up to the Fib Dems with your support of the pernicious non proportional AV voting system. AV results in even more capricious outcomes than FPTP. Under AV the second and third preferences of BNP supporters are counted equal to the first preferences of people like you and me. The Fib Dems are the only people who benefit from AV, which is why they are the main protaganists for it. So, it's a bit of a cheek to attack Compass - they're not the only people cosying up to Clegg and Co.

10:53 am, February 26, 2011

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Just don't get this. Compass is much more of a loose knit discussion and ideas based group than an active participant in internal Labour civil wars!

It really isn't like 'Progress' which is just a Blairite cheerleading rag with its devoted unthinking followers

I really don't think Compass is anything like that

12:31 pm, February 26, 2011

 
Anonymous Haggerston Harry said...

Hey! That's perfect material for a competition. Complete Luke's sentence in less than 15 words:

"There ought to be a voice and a home in the Party for soft left activists who are also partisan Labour loyalists and that home is ..... "

5:36 pm, February 26, 2011

 
Anonymous Paul said...

I am a member of Compass and voted against. I won't leave at present. But I agree there needs to be an internal grouping for the centre of the party - many of whom supported Ed Miliband. I would hope such a group would essentially favour a more 'socially liberal' path than was adopted over the last 15 or so years; favour real constitutional change e.g. PR, abolition of the House of Lords; really desire greater equality and push for democratically accountable public services.

11:02 pm, February 26, 2011

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Mike

Compass ran as part of the left slate in last year's NEC elections, so they are an active participant in Labour internal politics.

Luke

12:22 am, February 27, 2011

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Labour councillors must stand up to the Con-Dems and fight the cutbacks and refuse to cut back any services in town halls!Labour Councillors should stop doing the nitty gritty dirty work of the Con-Dems!

http://harpymarx.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/a-message-to-labour-councillors-there-is-an-alternative/

3:43 pm, February 27, 2011

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

But that's not their primary purpose Luke. Neither should it be. Personally I don't like factions and that's why I always vote for independents for the NEC not on a slate

7:11 pm, February 27, 2011

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Actually their primary purpose was a plot by No10 during the Blair era to undermine Labour First in NEC elections by recreating the old LCC as a rival to it - because Labour First were seen as Old Labour. This backfired spectacularly when former Blairites like Gavin Hayes and Neal Lawson veered off wildly to the left.

11:07 pm, February 27, 2011

 
Anonymous Laughing Out Loud said...

"Actually their primary purpose was a plot by No10 during the Blair era to undermine Labour First in NEC elections"

Now you're just being silly. This is like something out of the Life of Brian. Why would Number 10 support Compass against loyallists like you!?!!?!?!!

2:12 pm, February 28, 2011

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

I wasn't referring to the LCC.

I really do think you have to realise that politics doesn't begin and end with the Labour party!

It doesn't help that the policy-making system of policy forums has essentially died a death in terms of their engagement with the average party member. If people felt that the Labour party was somewhere they could talk about ideas and they could have some influence, they would be less likely to want to join ginger groups of any faction.

I'm not a member of any of them though I'm on the mailing list for the local Compass and attend their meetings if they have a good speaker. But I prefer not to have to stick to a 'line'

5:03 pm, February 28, 2011

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

"Laughing Out Loud"

it sounds bonkers but it's true.

No10 perceived that Labour First were not sufficiently zealous modernisers and were too closely aligned with the then-AEEU and trade unions in general.

They wanted to re-create the LCC as was an alternative grassroots power base on the modernising wing of the party. Unfortunately they misunderstood the extent to which key LCC personnel were moving to the left.

5:34 pm, February 28, 2011

 
Anonymous Laughing Out Loud said...

I remain to be convinced. Ken Jackson of the AEEU was officially Blair's favourite TU leader. Surely if Blair wanted to control Labour First he should have just had a quiet word with Ken Jackson about sorting out LF's slate? And if all this is true why were Compass always painted as "Brownite"?

6:13 pm, February 28, 2011

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'I hope the 32% of opponents in Compass of this "opening up" to other parties will walk out and find a new political home.'

After many Labour Firsters supported Ed Miliband and many Ed Miliband supporting ex-compassites voted not to open up the compass membership. Would they not seek to find a home in Labour First. Luke what Barriers exist for this to happen.

11:38 pm, March 14, 2011

 

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