In the beginning
Compass started out like many good organisations do – with a letter in the Guardian.
We were founded as a Labour Party pressure group that was democratically run by our members. Compass members had to be Labour Party members (or not be members of any other party). We were founded as a Labour Party focused pressure group we felt that New Labour was failing to make the most of a historic opportunity to fundamentally transform the UK into a much more equal, democratic and sustainable society.
In the first 5 years of Compass we created a vision of a good society and acted as a hub for the democratic left within the Labour Party, agitating for it to become more egalitarian, democratic and pluralist. We won some concrete battles; stopping the Counter-Terrorism Bill, halting the privatisation of Royal Mail and persuading the Government to levy a windfall tax on banker’s bonuses.
Despite these successes we came to realise that a reformed Labour Party was still necessary but not sufficient to deliver a Good Society. We needed to work with people from other parties and from different organisations to change our world. Why let in people on the right of Labour and keep out those from other parties that we agreed with? Values felt more important than a party card! After many deliberations, debates and consultations Compass members voted to open up full membership to members of other political parties.
This decision was a big part of our history and has shaped who we are today; we strongly believe that while Labour remains fundamentally important no single issue or party can usher in a Good Society alone.
Since our inception we have always been a member-led organisation. Now, more than ever we strive to live by our values of democracy and equality. Today we are increasingly an open and democratic space for people who want to develop a new form of politics. You can read more about our values on our values page.