Compass, democracy and the challenge of our age

So much is changing, so fast. It’s hard for any of us to keep up. I know it’s a busy time but please try and take a moment to read this. Better still, let me know what you think. I promise to read everything you say and will respond if you ask me any questions.

Something really big is happening. We all know that politics isn’t working and that doing more of the same thing and expecting a different outcome defines insanity. It goes without saying we want the Tories out, but what makes us Compass is that we want so much more than that. Yet at the moment it feels like nothing can stop austerity, runaway climate change or the next financial crash.

This year Compass has tried to get to grips with what’s happening – to understand how change happens in today’s world of social media and empowered citizens. We’ve published a lot of stuff – maybe too much and I know some of it is too long. From The Bridge to The Open Tribe, from Reclaim Modernity to New Times, we have been really productive and creative. It’s exciting because it’s about how to make a good society possible. These publications are listed below in case you get bored over the holiday and want inspiration. And trust me, they are inspiring.

We know we need to find ways to get these ideas to you in easier formats, but more than anything we know there needs to be more spaces and opportunities for you to shape Compass. More meetings near where you are and more decisions and actions by you.

Because the truth is that the Compass full time team – Jacqui, Joe and me – are frantically rushing round trying to keep the show on the road. It’s not that we don’t work hard enough or don’t love what we do, but the the size of the task is so huge. Just think of the Wizard of Oz when the screen is pulled back. That’s us.

We can’t go on like this, and we won’t. We feel too 20th century and we need to become a 21st century Compass.

To start getting it right we are investing in a membership relationship management system so we can better understand what you’re interested in and allow you to take more control of Compass.

It will help align everything else about Compass that has changed enormously over this, our first decade. Ten years ago, we started, essentially, as a faction within Labour, to stop the worst excesses of New Labour. The second phase led us to the big decision to open the membership up to people from other parties who shared our good society goals. And now a third phase, the recognition that a huge shift is taking place from top down vertical politics to bottom up horizontal politics. Compass’s unique role is to be the bridge between the two, trying to make the progressive movement, as a whole, stronger.

We also changed our culture – we really are trying to be the change we wish to see in the world– more emotional, relational and empathetic. Yes, we want much more equality, sustainability and democracy but they won’t come without much more love, wisdom and courage from all of us.

We know the scale of the challenge to reinvent politics from something that is done to us, to something we do together. And we know that no one is coming to save us. We have to do it together.

In 2015 we have some great plans. There will be at least one amazing Change How event – stay tuned as we’ll be sending something next week. Soon in the new year, we will be publishing our final Education Inquiry report – it is a beautiful piece of work. Again, you will decide whether we back tactical voting and after the general election, we will be launching a huge democracy initiative.

This is an amazing time to be involved in politics. From Scotland to Spain – things are stirring and changing. A politics of real transformative hope is emerging.

I know I’ve gone on too long  – again.

Just to say – thank you for being on the journey. The best is yet to come. Because, as we end 2014 and go in to an election year, we are so much better prepared for the world and the way it is changing. Let’s keep travelling and learning together.

My love and very best wishes,


P.S. You can help us set up and run the new membership relationship system by making a small or big monthly donation here

Those inspiring reads:

The Bridge
The Open Tribe
Reclaim Modernity
New Times


4 thoughts on “Compass, democracy and the challenge of our age

  1. I genuinely disagree with Robert.
    Compass is marking the correct topics.
    The financial institutions’ refusal to conform
    to any sense of rationality,let alone compassion.
    The utilities’ unslaked thirst for profit over ethics.
    And the corporate media’s demonising of folk
    hitting hard times.
    Keep calm and carry on,Neal!

  2. Well said Neal for your comments in the Guardian about Blair and his 1997 victory. The tent was to big and Blair happened to be around at the right time and right place. No doubt he has many qualities but I think he was as surprised as anyone in 1997. He made some awful decisions. In my own field, Education, he listened to the wrong people, the Islington set, valued what could be measured rather measure what was valuable, and was all things to all people. A big disappointment – even without mentioning Iraq!!

    David Mewes

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