Compass has lost its bearings….
In Lost, one of the predictors of standing on a big pocket of electro-magnetic energy on the island is the zany behaviour of compasses. Indeed, arguably the compass is a metaphor for the characters frequent lack of clear direction and the confusion events on and off the island cause to the central characters.
Something similar can be said of the political grouping that takes the name of the Compass to itself. It exists in a bizarre kind of limbo between being a pressure group within Labour and a cross-left campaigning group that exists to transcend tribal boundaries. This confusion cripples it from having any real influence within Labour but also reduces its effectiveness outside of it.
If The Guardian is to be believed this confusion has led it to a bizarre attempt at political necromancy; to revive the stone-cold corpse of Lib-Labbery. Even Luke Akehurst, a comrade clearly on the right of Labour in general, can see the folly of this:
“there is a direct correlation between weakening the LDs and strengthening Labour.
The opportunity exists for a fundamental realignment of British politics where all progressive opinion unites behind Labour and the LDs are left as a tiny right-wing rump in permanent alliance with the Tories.”
Compass really should be reading what the likes of Nick Clegg are saying. Clearly not interested in anything to do with Labour or Compass Clegg’s rebuffs make Compass look more than a little desperate. If it was reaching out to the Green’s I could at least understand this; however, those progressive Lib Dems that are left must be won to fundamentally breaking with their party and this government and at the very least standing clearly with the opposition. However, this behaviour on the part of Compass illustrates perfectly its lack of a clear political direction.
At its AGM it will decide whether non-Labour members will be given a vote within its structures but this debate fundamentally misses the point and avoids the real and deeper strategic issues facing Compass.
In general, the opposition to the cuts agenda has been lukewarm from Compass because it has little to offer in terms of an alternative. It has instead focused on a not unworthy in itself, but limited campaign against legal loan-sharking.
Ontop of this, Compass comrades are amazingly complacent; they believe the election of Ed Miliband has effectively placed them ‘in power’. This complacency has disarmed them in the face of the numerous concessions Ed has made to Blairism and the fact that Alan Johnson, the self-anointed leader of the aggrieved PLP, is wandering around like the proverbial king of the castle trying to bounce the leadership into all kinds of things.
Last week another organisation on the Labour left, the Labour Representation Committee, voted at its Leeds branch to submit for consideration of its national body a strategic orientation towards the unity of the left of Labour and a conference of that left to consider three main issues:
1. Organising an anti-cuts platform within the Labour Party that not only opposes the ‘debt crisis’ moral panic started for ideological reasons but promotes policies which will lead to a new economy being built from the ashes of the old (including also consideration of relating to anti-cuts campaigns outside Labour and how we oppose Labour representatives making cutbacks)
2. Agreeing a set of demands to campaign on that improves internal Party Democracy within Labour.
3. Agreeing on how we work within the Trade Unions to draw Trade Unionists into the Labour Party.
How Compass relates to those three issues and the rest of the Labour left could well determine whether it gets permanently politically lost or not….