Crisis at Compass…..

I knew Compass lacked serious political direction but wasn’t quite expecting it to spill over into serious allegations against Neal Lawson. Lets be quite clear, Lawson is quite entitled to an income. However, its transparently obvious that the income he receives from Compass was given in the manner it was to circumvent the constitutional stipulation that no paid employee can sit on the Management Committee and allow Lawson to continue to sit on that. His dismissal of the reported amount (£113,498) as a ‘pittance’ is also vaguely offensive and clearly an inappropriate response to what has occurred.  Having said that this is a side-show; the solution is simple, Neal should be allowed his money but removed forthwith from the Management Committee.

The real problems that Compass has are political. At a time when it could be playing a leading role on the Labour left it has decided now would be the best time to venture outwards. Its estimation of the current strategic situation is deeply flawed; it has pedigree here, remember the tactical voting farce? Chaos reigns at the heart of its perspectives. One day it is proclaiming its ascendancy to political power in Labour; the next it is slinking out of the Party (which indicates the opposite of what it says to be true, it suggests its very far from power indeed).

Lawson and John Harris proclaim in their ‘New Socialism’ Orwellian like psycho-babble that one of the key features of the ‘new socialism’ is break from Labourism. How wrong the comrades are; in actual fact, Lawson and Harris want to re-invent Labourism without Labour. I defy anybody to tell me this is not re-heated social democracy – not even socialism. Such a project is doomed to failure because without the only suitable host that exists for Labourism, the Labour Party, Compass will wither and die.

Already the talk is of a new organisation within Labour to replace Compass and the drip-drip of shrinking membership which started over tactical voting will soon become a flood.  I don’t relish this because anything which weakens the Labour left is not a good thing. Plenty of scope exists for principled unity within Labour between the so-called ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ left. Comrades agree in principle on a broad range of issues from party democracy to opposing the cuts. We might even start to see some unity on the kind of new economy we would like to see rise from the ashes of the old and other issues too.

Building that unity is the first step forward to realising goals we have in common. Sadly, however it looks like those steps will be taken without Compass as it has decided to turn its back on the struggles and battles of both the ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ Labour left.


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