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, December 02, 2010

Compass prepares to commit political suicide

The soft-left faction Compass has suggested many crazy ideas over the years, but has now topped it all by suggesting opening its ranks up to Lib Dems, just at the point when the Lib Dems are self-destructing as a party (down to 9-10% in the polls) and have clearly demonstrated through their actions in government that they are not a centre-left or progressive party.

There's detail here: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/98181

and here: http://www.labourlist.org/mark-ferguson-can-compass-survive-outside-the-labour-party

Part of me wants to gloat at the tactical and strategic stupidity of this move, which will destroy Compass' credibility within the Labour Party.

But on another level it is desperately sad. There are a lot of people who legitimately self-describe as soft-left and sit between the Bennite hard left and people like me. They deserve a better vehicle for their politics, a better forum for discussion and a better space to network in the Party than Compass. There must be many of them who are absolutely solid Labour partisans and want nothing to do with openings to the Lib Dems, Greens or Trots. I hope they get out of Compass and create something better that will play a more constructive role in the internal life of the Labour Party (for a start off it shouldn't be allied with the hard left Grassroots Alliance in internal party elections) and have no truck with appeasement of other parties. If they get this right it could be as significant as the Labour Co-ordinating Committee's 1985 realignment of the left (when the soft left split from the Bennites and went into alliance with the right of the Party).


Anonymous not misled said...

The Grassroots Alliance is not hard left, Luke. As you well know. It contains soft lefts and even old-fashioned rightwing democrats like Ann Black of Labour Reform.

2:46 pm, December 02, 2010

Blogger Merseymike said...

I go to our local Compass group. I honestly can't see why anyone who supports the FibDems would be in the least attracted to anything left-of-centre, at least in this area, where they have been our only real opponents for quite some time.

However, my impression of Compass has been that its never been purely about the Labour party and is much more of a space to discuss ideas. There are clearly many FibDems who are very disillusioned with their party and this may be a way of engaging with them. Similarly I do think that links with the Greens may be worthwhile.

I do think its up to Compass itself to decide what sort of group it wants to be. There may well be the need for a group specifically within the Labour party, a soft-left version of Progress, but that has never really been where Compass has situated itself. Our local group is much more about political education and discussion. Compass has always been openly pluralist rather than partisan. I think I'm a lot more partisan, particularly when it comes to the FibDems who I really despise, but there's no harm in having a range of options.

3:23 pm, December 02, 2010

Anonymous Compass supporter said...

I was waiting for a rant about Compass. Welcome back, Luke!

5:38 pm, December 02, 2010

Anonymous Prince William said...

Nice one and well done to the BBC and Labour Party and Left wing killjoys destroying out chance to host the World Cup. Horrible people

6:27 pm, December 02, 2010

Anonymous Billy said...

Luke, we have a very Nasty Green called Rupert Read - he's in compass - you should see his blog.
Friday, 3 December 2010
Compass and pluralism - good news!

Compass's decision last weekend to look seriously over the next two months at opening up its full membership (see http://www.compassonline.org.uk/news/item.asp?n=11722 ) is very welcome. This in effect responds to the call I made - http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/07/compass-must-practice-what-it-preaches-on-pluralism/ - and gives real hope that a 'progressive alliance' can be built that could take this country in a different direction over the next 5 years. If there is another balanced Parliament after the 2015 General Election, we need to make sure that we are ready to have something else replace the ConDem government. Compass pluralising could be a key basis for being ready in that way: and would also fit well with the new political environment that will evolve in this country if the AV referendum is passed (See here for why: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/06/28/why-the-left-will-always-be-at-a-loss-without-vote-reform/ .).
As a Green who is a member of Compass, but who is at present excluded from participating in Compass's internal affairs (because of my membership of a Party other than Labour), I earnestly hope that Compass will make the right decision over the next couple of months. If that happens, then it really will be 'the new politics'.

Here is the resolution that the Compass AGM passed:

'The AGM commits the Management Committee to:
•Hold a further Special General Meeting to be held by the end of February 2011 to decide specifically on the issue of opening up the Compass membership.
•That a constitutional amendment(s) will be tabled by the Management Committee to that Special General Meeting that if voted on by a 2:1 majority in accordance with the constitution would open up the Compass membership.
•Therefore commits to a process of further consultation with the membership immediately after this AGM as part of a thorough democratic process in reaching a decision on Compass membership.'

10:03 pm, December 06, 2010

Anonymous James King said...

Speaking as a left-ish Lib Dem, I definitely welcome this. From what I know about Compass from my experience of them around Oxford, they are in many ways closer to my politics that the Labour Party - with their interest in democratic reform, the environment, civil liberties, and fairer taxation, they are far more liberal than the Labour mainstream. I know at least one Lib Dem who is an associate member already, and I see that Evan Harris made an appearance at their AGM on behalf of the Social Liberal Forum. Most of all, though, they seem to escape the incredibly frustrating, excessively partisan mentality you can see from a lot of Labour members around my part of the world, of the 'all inside the Labour tabernacle are saved, all outside are damned' sort of thing. I know that I would probably be on the right if I joined Compass, but I would definitely consider it.

2:04 pm, December 20, 2010

Anonymous derek barker said...


Maybe just a reflection of a party that has struggled with it's soul and identity since the 1980's.

What do you mean your a moderate?

Waht does that intail? somewhere between a nuclear advocate and a partial financer? who know's.

Luke maybe you can shed a bit of light on exactly what type of society Britian should be, a gang of moderates where values are measured by the green back?

10:56 am, January 16, 2011


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