Sunny Hundal has written persuasively today about why Compass’ moves to open up their membership are misguided. I am adding this post to the debate because I think its really important.
There are plenty of organisations whose remit is to bring together “progressives”. Compass had a remit to be the voice of the Soft Left within the Labour Party, and just as they could have come into ascendancy as a dominant force in the way Progress did for New Labour, they are blowing their chance.
Labour voters and members deserves an organisation that is dedicated to improving Labour, and making sure we have the best possible offer for the next General Election. There will be many voices clamouring to be heard in that debate. Weakening Compass in this way at this time weakens their place in that debate. It lets down people like me who have been members from the start, but joined an organisation dedicated to improving Labour.
I get that Labour was not what Compass members wanted it to be in Government. But unlike Compass, I also get that no Government ever will be. That’s democracy. Compass started well, but its endless attacks on the Government were never well coordinated so in the end lost their potency. Labour organisation attacks Labour is only a useful tool if it happens in a rare but spectacular way. Not if it’s a weekly bitchy email campaign.
I realise I may be burning a few boats here, but I’ve been disappointed in the strategy and output of Compass for some time. It has gone from being somewhere that proposed interesting and detailed policies that could make a real difference to somewhere Labour members could have a comfortable whinge. I don’t think Labour is short of those places.
What is, was and will be needed is a vehicle for the substantial promotion of the Soft Left agenda and policies within the Labour Party. If Compass makes this change it no longer has the option to be that. Other people can fight for the progressive whole, but some people have to be dedicated to making sure Labour is the best part of that it can be. I’ll be doing that, but I will be looking for a more suitable vehicle to do so than Compass.