Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Has Compass Gone Wonky?

Just when you thought the Labour leadership question had been put to sleep until after the general election, it seems Compass (or at least some leading figures within it) are determined to tip it out of bed. According to this report in The Graun, Compass is planning on launching a coup to topple Gordon Brown and replace him with someone more to their political tastes. David Miliband and Alan Johnson are touted as people amenable to the centre left politics Compass espouses.

Much apparently hinges on the December 9 pre-budget report. If Darling dishes out the same neoliberal warm-ups (albeit with a garnish of palest pink social democracy), the daggers will be out.

Assuming the report is true, if Compass are serious about Labour winning the next general election (or at least want to avoid a wipe out), more leadership shenanigans this late in the game only serves to discredit Labour
even further among voters. Needless to say it also damages the standing of Compass within the party. Do the as yet unnamed figures behind the coup plot wish to go down in political history as those who wielded the knife as the Tories were at the gates?

You might ask why a member of the
Socialist Party gives a shit. After all our party's immediate strategic objective is the founding a new workers' party/new left formation that would re-enfranchise all those New Labour's love-in with big business has left out in the cold. Does it matter what clique ends up running a straight bosses party?

I think it matters very much. The choice at the next election might seem to be one between the devil and the deep blue sea, but for socialists and anyone who cares about the fate of the labour movement there are wider strategic considerations we need to take into account. Leaving aside the policy differences between the two and Cameron's seeming willingness to drag Britain into a so-called double dip recession, the fact remains another Labour government provides more favourable circumstances for building a viable left wing opposition to it - provided the parties to Labour's left are able to overcome their long-standing antipathies and seize the opportunities that present themselves.

Secondly, even if Labour loses it is still in our movement's interests that as many Labour MPs are returned to Westminster as possible. Why? The slimmer the Tory majority, the less able they are to push through their programme of attacks and cuts. It's that simple really.

Before anyone shoots me of course the left should support candidates from Respect, Son-of-No2EU, other "credible" lefts and the occasional Green and independent (depending on their politics). But everywhere else the labour movement should work to return a Labour MP. We are where we are and as much as it pains me to say it, it is in the immediate strategic interests of our movement that the Labour vote next year is as large as possible.

Which brings me back to Compass. Despite having politics a million times better than Brown's cabal of New Labourites, they are not looking at the big picture. Another leadership contest is a foolhardy circus at a time when all guns should be directed at the Tories.

Ged Robinson.


Paul said...

I'm with you on that one, brother. Indeed I just posted at TCF on how you don't need to like Labour to want them to beat the Tories, for the very reasons you identify, and that was before the Compass 'plot' news broke.

I'm interested the Guardian article says a senior Compass figure that despite a membership of 4,000 they have 30,000 strong supporter database.

I suspect I'm on that database, based on the daily email I ignore, as will be many others captured from some engagement with their webisite. It doesn't mean I support them. I seem to remember that Luke Akehurst gets mailings too.

Phil BC said...

I'm on the mailing list too.

It is pretty sad to see so much of our movement feel the need to exaggerate its influence. It makes us look daft.

Anonymous said...

There will be a Compass meeting in the new year in Stoke on Trent. If you are interested please email me and I will contact you in January.

Compass Member
email: olwen.hamer@googlemail.com

SamG said...

I do not know how you can work out whether New Labour winning or losing the next election will be good or bad for the left. Maybe the defeat will move Labour further to the centre left or maybe there will be just a cosmetic change, a media frinedly Blairite replacing a brownite.

Only a crystal ball will answer the question.

Phil BC said...

On the narrow point of policy you're right. We can at best only make educated guesses.

But the second point still stands. If in all likelihood Labour lose the next election it is in the labour movement's interest that the Tories' margin of victory and commons majority is as small as possible.

ModernityBlog said...

I doubt Compass could organise a piss up in a brewery let alone topple Brown, whilst Mandy is on his side.

I think Compass might just be rattling their sabre, to try and prove that they're not completely ineffectual in the wake of the new Labour/Brownite juggernaut.

But so what if Brown came out with a radical statement in December, so what?

It means very little and probably wouldn't change the outcome of a general election.

And if he doesn't put out a radical statement, we’ll see if Compass can do the deed.

It seems rather unlikely.

Phil BC said...

Yeah. There have been strenuous denials over at LabourList and LabourHome about this so it's doubtful it will happen. Perhaps it was a kite flying exercise al along.

The point remains though, anyone going for Brown now are extremely stupid and have no strategic nous at all. We're stuck for him, for better and for worse.

ModernityBlog said...

agree, the last 12 years of New Labour has sealed their fate, any last minute flag waving or opportunistic radicalism won't change the outcome, the more recent NL attacks on the working classes have left a bitter taste in people's mouths...