Compass, the Labour Party and MePosted: 07/08/2013 | |
I am standing for election to the Compass Youth Committee. I realise that this sentence has little meaning as far as international and less politically avid readers are concerned, but I urge you to read on and find out what I’m on about!
The UK Labour Party has always been a broad church, and as with the Left worldwide, boasted an astonishing range of sub-ideologies, organised tendencies and internal groups. A number of these have developed into full-blown membership organisations, each with a distinctive vision for Labour’s future. The most prominent of these are the Fabian Society, Progress, Compass and the Co-operative Party: all have different structures, different aims and were formed at different times. Fortunately, we have moved on from the 1980s when factionalism almost tore the party apart. Today, the majority of active and senior Labour members will have links to one of these groups, but recognise that Party loyalty comes before internal disputes (though there are still slates in internal Party elections).
In Young Labour (in which I am very active) the majority of members are part of Compass or Progress. Progress was established in the 1990s as a Blairite group, and benefitted from considerable funding from Lord Sainsbury, the millionaire who bankrolled the ‘traitors’ in the breakaway SDP beforehand. It has called for Ed Balls to promise to match George Osborne’s spending plans after 2015, endorsed David Miliband in the leadership election, and has basically said Labour should not oppose the Tories’ welfare cuts. Hmmm. I think you can guess that I don’t agree with these people very often.
By contrast, Compass was founded in the early 2000s, originally by Labour supporters opposed to the Iraq War but rapidly expanding to those concerned that New Labour was too centrist. I decided to order a couple of Compass’ policy documents and was astonished to find over 100 pages of policy that I actually agreed with, almost word for word. It is so rare for me to find so many political ideas that I can endorse wholeheartedly, and I knew I had found my ideological home. I joined at once.
I joined because I felt that, whilst Ed Miliband is coming under intense pressure to revert to bland New Labour ‘pragmatism’ on the one side or behave like a socialist with some inspiring ideas on the other, I should do what I can as a humble ordinary Labour supporter to ensure he is bold and does the latter.
Now Labour’s fragile unity has shattered, our poll lead has shrunk and our policy vacuum is beginning to hurt us. The unfortunate affair in Falkirk, it has emerged, seems to have very little do to with wrongdoing by Unite the Union. Elements in the Labour Party have tried to smear our trade union partners. Basically, this is a time in which the Labour right and the Labour left are fighting for control as they haven’t done for a generation. And as such, it is of crucial importance that the left win, as an Opposition going into the 2015 general election without opposing Tory austerity, the war on welfare, NHS privatisation and regressive tax policies will lose. The public will see that we have simply nothing to offer.
I dread to imagine what Britain would look like in 2020 after a decade of a Government more right-wing than that of Thatcher. We can’t allow it.
So why does this lead me to seek election Compass Youth Committee? Because Compass and Compass Youth need to be crystal clear about what we are trying to do. That is, in my opinion, winning over the wider Labour movement to our ideology; driving youth engagement and activism in the Left; sharing new ideas about the improvement of our society, nation and planet; and above all working constructively with all fellow Socialists. What I will be humbly suggesting to Compass Youth members is that I am well placed to support this.
Only time will tell if they agree.
- Sleepwalking in the Labour Party (peoplesassemblytyneandwear.wordpress.com)
- Labour Party members, followers and friends and a great disenfranchised section of our society are crying out for Labour to make a stand says Bernadette Connor (wyreforestlabour.wordpress.com)