After Compass where now for the Labour left?

Yesterday, Compass made a mistake of historic proportions in opening up its membership. Effectively,  it has traded what could have been an influential position within Labour for terribly meaningful conversations with Liberal Democrat refugees about the soul-rending situation they find themselves in. The kind-of situation that involves posing to the left of Labour councils while sitting in and supporting the same government that is bleeding these councils dry of funding.

The politics of Compass were always questionable; nebulousness and an air of aloof indifference befitting of an organisation that sees itself as more of a ‘think tank’ clouded its effectiveness, nonetheless its departure is a blow. This is the case mostly because it has robbed the Labour ‘soft-left’ of a home and cast these comrades adrift. For this reason and this reason alone the departure of Compass is something that saddens rather than gladdens me.

I would suspect that these comrades will now choose to re-group with the addition of those who had already left Compass over the tactical voting shambles. If I may be permitted to offer counsel in the terms of suggestions then I would urge them to proceed  in a more ‘activist’ fashion than Compass ever did. The campaign against legal loan sharking although worthy enough was politically insignificant in terms of the the bigger picture.  Of course, the big question since May has been the ideological austerity drive of the Con/Dem government and Labour’s response.

The formation of a strong anti-cuts grouping within Labour, which should have been top of the Compass agenda, never seemed to be even seriously considered. It made no real effort to permeate the movement with its own ideas which is a little surprising considering they probably would have geld reasonably well with the demands made by the trade unions and the TUC nor did it fight this corner within Labour.

In principle, I am on the ‘hard left’ but the division between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ left is somewhat arbitrary and unnecessary in the current context. An agenda that has as its central tenants a sweeping programme of reforms aimed at extending political and economic democracy as an antidote to our current ills there is a nuclei of some common ground between the ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ left.

The decision of Compass to exit Labour is disappointing but it also presents a clear opportunity for the Labour left to regroup to come together on a principled basis and to start punching its weight.


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2 responses to “After Compass where now for the Labour left?”

  1. Robert says :

    Labour soft left, if you called me soft twenty years ago you would be picking your teeth off the ground, as I did in 1983/4 at a miners march in Leeds, being hit in the mouth by a pickax from a Police officer.

    Soft left, listen the people who left labour were the heart the activist the group of millions who voted labour because their dads did, and granddad did.

    My grand father started a Union off at a coal mine which had just lost sixteen people in a mine the youngest being 14 years of age.

    Soft left , you can call us soft when you have done the same as us in 40 or fifty years time, not now your newish to the party mate.

    I have been to 30 party conferences I have been to god knows how many party meetings, but in 1997 the party changed it changed toward a Thatcherite government.

    Do not tell me about the min wage, because if anyone could live on £3.20 a hour had better try it, income support made up the missing part of income, something that great socialist removed.(brown)

    labour is now the party looking around to see where it goes, does it carry on fighting to become a new Tory party, or does it try to get back to basics and re laugh the Labour movement.

    Miliband has one fight thats all he has and that to save the NHS and it’s not enough to make me vote for it.


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    By ‘soft’ left, I mean the social democratic/centre-left. You know, the kind of people who thought roughly speaking like Neil Kinnock or indeed Ed Miliband now who is probably, when push comes to shove, best described as a classical social democrat. Labour’s left tends to shade from this to the socialistic or ‘hard’ left. This is a commonly accepted term, not a sly insult aimed at anybody.

    I am not calling you ‘soft’ *sighs*; as I explain I am using a commonly accepted and actually used term to describe a certain political current. What your saying places your politics on the hard left so I wouldn’t even group you in the ‘soft left’ category which isn’t determined by your background or indeed how many party conferences you attend but your actual *politics*.

    Given that the rest of your ill-tempered response is more than a little uncalled for.


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