Posts Tagged ‘Compass’

The long line of English radicalism from the Levellers through the Chartists to…Compass?!

June 15, 2010

A bit late I know, but although I wasn’t there it seems that Jon ‘Darling of the Soft Left’ Cruddas gave a stonking speech to the Compass conference at the weekend. Read a transcript of the whole thing over at Liberal Conspiracy.

“We lost the election in England, badly. It is in England that our future will be determined. Let us begin by reminding ourselves who we are.

We are Labour and we are not new. Our roots are centuries deep in the struggle for democracy and justice. We are the light shining in Buckinghamshire. With Rainsborough at Putney. The Levellers Charter was ours. Standing with the crowd at Peterloo. Standing with the Irishman Bronterre O’Brien and William Cuffay.

The People’s Charter was ours. John Ruskin’s rallying cry is our creed – ‘there is no wealth but life’. Standing alongside match girls; dockers; miners. With railway workers at Taff Vale.

With the Men’s Political Union and the Suffragettes.

This is Labour’s gift to us all today.

And in turn Labour’s future is our obligation. Make it once more the defender of society against the power of the state and the market. Organise the powerless. Give voice to the voiceless.”

I’m a sucker for a politician who has bothered to at least open a history book. But did he really mean to say “Levellers’ Charter?” Was that a slip of the tongue, thinking ahead to the Chartists? Would have been better to name check the Levellers’ Agreement of the People.

If I ever get to write a historically literate speech for a politician I will slip in the words spoken by Richard Rumbold, a veteran of the New Model Army and republican revolutionary, as he stood on the scaffold awaiting his execution:

“I am sure that there was no man born marked above another; for none comes into this world with a saddle upon his back, neither any booted or spurred to ride him”.

Although the earlier warning of the danger of popery might need to be toned down.


How does Compass do what it does to me?

May 17, 2010

In many ways my views are pretty soft left so I should perhaps be expected to be an enthusiastic Compass supporter.

I have indeed found myself on their mailing list. However, instead of being a keen Compassite who responds positively to their requests for money and invitations to various events, I just get irritated.

Take, for example, the mail I just received informing me of their ‘A New Hope’ conference.

The ridiculously geeky Star Wars theme and the rip-off ticket price are annoying-enough.

But then there is also the guest list of apparently important ‘progressives’.

John Kampfner = Lib Dem. His favoured party are now in government with the Tories. How does this bloke qualify as ‘left’?

Seamus Milne = Yet another supremely privileged journalist who has a bizarre soft spot for the Soviet Union, Iran and Islamist terrorists.

Kate Hudson of CND = Communist Party member and defender of Iran’s nuclear programme.

+ representatives of the Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Campaigns (aka the We Love South American Strongmen Who Lock Up Their Critics Clubs). 

There are of course worthy and interesting guests – e.g. Jon Cruddas and the Equality Trust amongst others. But they’re not enough to persuade me to fork out the required £37 and to put up with all the other nonsense taking place at the Compass conference!

Compass madness.

November 18, 2009

I’m happy to see that Comrade Akehurst has been doing quite a bit of blogging recently. As usual, he provokes strong reactions.

I strongly agree, for example, that we in the Labour Party need fighters and believers right now – not quitters and plotters. Calls from the likes of Compass and Polly Toynbee for Labour to dump Gordon and change the leader before the election can’t be taken seriously. It’s too late for that now.

Compass’ frequent emails may address me as ‘Dear Supporter’ (where they got that idea from I don’t know!) and they may be holding their Christmas Bash conveniently close to Jako Towers in Islington, but I don’t think I’ll be joining in the ‘No Turning Back’ fun (and I expect Luke Akehurst won’t be either).

Neglecting to address inequality would be an admission of defeat.

August 18, 2009

I like the start of Tom Harris’ recent post on Labour’s attitude to wealth:

THERE’S a terrific scene in the TV adaptation of Chris Mullin’s A Very British Coup in which the newly-elected left wing prime minister, Harry Perkins, is catching the train to London and is asked by a journalist: “Do you intend to abolish first class, Mr Perkins?” To which Perkins replies: “No, I intend to abolish second class. I think everybody’s first class, don’t you?”

Unfortunately it’s pretty much downhill from there.

Admittedly it was obvious that Tom Harris MP was not going to be outlining his own ideas of how to bring about a classless society. The title of the post (“Capping private wealth would be an admission of defeat”) kind of gave the game away. Tom is writing in emphatically New Labourer-than-thou mode.

As Sunder Katwala points out in a brilliantly thorough reply, Tom is perhaps even being more ‘New Labour’ than New Labour itself.

I hope Tom reads it. It is disturbing to see a Labour MP using the sort of language that gives succour to those who oppose all efforts to reduce material inequality in this country.

Taxation of the wealthy is “a necessary evil”. Compass’ call for a High Pay Commission is “dog whistle politics”. Government intervention in the market to dictate wages will apparently start leading to mass nationalisations. The post is tagged with “the politics of envy”. Exactly the same sort of stuff was said of the government’s decision to introduce the 50% income tax rate.

I’m not a fan of Compass and I don’t know much about how this High Pay Commission would work. Saying that, I’m not convinced that Tom does either. Calls to reduce income inequality should not be so blithely dismissed – even if the proposed methods of accomplishing this are not totally convincing.

It’s nice to see Tom – whose blog is No 1 in the ‘blogging MP’ category according to Toryboy Iain Dale – discussing policy. But surely he isn’t comfortable when right-wing bloggers are singing the praises of his hyperbolic denunciation of an egalitarian proposal. Surely not.

How to live in the 21st century of turbo-book promotion-ism without turning back!

August 12, 2009

I don’t want to get overly Akehurstite, but it is a bit shameless of Neal Lawson to use the Compass mailing list to encourage people to buy his new book on excessive consumerism.

I received an email from Lawson this afternoon:

Dear Friend

Thanks to everyone who has bought the book and the many who have told me how much they enjoyed it.  If you haven’t got a copy yet this is what others have said:

“Lawson gives us a prescription for an alternative in which we recreate the public realm”
Felicity Lawrence, The Guardian

Carol Midgley, The Times

“Passionate and very moral”
Rafael Behr, The Observer

…..[Blagh blagh blagh]…..

You can buy it here at Abebooks or here at Amazon.

Or support your local book store.

Best wishes


I found myself on the Compass mailing list after attending a Compass conference a few years ago with a fellow Paintbrusher. We weren’t especially impressed and decided not to join. I’ve received regular emails from Compass (mostly requesting donations) ever since. Nothing has yet made me change my mind.