Progressives believe in many of the same things, but find ourselves in different parties for a host of personal and historical reasons. The Tories thrive off the tribalism that party affiliation breeds. We divide, they conquer.
So as well as exploring any small but real differences, it is time to turn a shared belief in a much more equal, sustainable and democratic world into decisive political strengths by winning a progressive majority.
For Labour this embrace of pluralism is critical to help the Party face its two big challenges: how to win office and how to use power to transform the country. To achieve both, Labour will have to work constructively with other parties.
The electoral challenge facing Labour is immense. The Party needs to win 124 seats at the next election for a majority of just one, an unprecedented swing even before harmful boundary changes are taken into account. Given the seeming strength of the SNP in Scotland, the chances of winning outright are extremely low.
There are two strategies open to Labour. One is to go for a Big Tent. This means gaining office precisely because the Party poses little or no transformative threat to the establishment. This was feasible in the past. But to deal with climate breakdown, unfettered capitalism, and the rise of right-wing authoritarianism we have to build a pragmatic set of forces to deal with these challenges.
The only way to defeat the Tories and promote a radical agenda is through a Centre and Left alliance.
Labour needs the Liberal Democrats to win in the 80 seats where they are second to the Tories and to win over soft-Tory voters where Labour is second. But Liberal Democrat and Green voters must have clear incentives to vote tactically for Labour and vice versa.
A progressive alliance would build a radical and broad coalition in which Labour, Liberals and Greens can all bring their distinctive politics to the table to help us face the huge challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. It would need a minimum viable shared policy agenda to deliver a new democracy, tackle climate breakdown, and address a range of inequalities.
One bottom line would be firm Labour backing for proportional representation – which helps cement an alliance and therefore the formation of a government capable of legislating for PR. Thus ending for good the Tories’ electoral advantage based on First Past the Post.
More and more Labour voters, members and politicians are supporting this pluralist approach in principle and in practice. But backing for alliance-based politics needs to be deepened and strengthened within Labour.
In 2011 Compass opened its doors beyond just Labour, to all progressives who share our good society vision of much greater equality, democracy and sustainability. We need to work across all the progressive parties, but we must also work more effectively within them.
The Compass Labour Network will build support in the Party at every level for positive collaboration with other parties (similar Compass groups are being launched in the Lib Dems and Greens). The aim will be to build trust, develop shared policy ideas and campaign together both for future progressive change and to thwart one of the most regressive governments in living memory.
Come the next election, the Network we will help find the best form of electoral cooperation to secure a new government led by Labour.
The Network will be led by Labour Party activists and supported by the Compass office. It will be open to any member or supporter of the Labour Party. It will hold informal discussion meetings, run fringe and other events, publish articles on the Compass site, campaign on issues relevant to a progressive alliance and support electoral collaboration wherever appropriate.
The following Labour members and supporters have backed, in a personal capacity, the establishment of the Compass Labour Network:
Paul Mason (journalist), Laura Parker (former Momentum National Coordinator), Jeremy Gilbert (author 21st Century Socialism), Ruth Lister (Labour Peer), Patrick Diamond (former Director Policy Network an Advisor to Tony Blair), Francesca Klug (human rights activist), Mark Perryman (editor of Corbynism from Below), Yasmin Khan (author and advisor), Ken Spours (author of Shapeshifters, the evolving politics of modern Conservatism), Nick Dearden (Global Justice Now), Gerry Mitchell (Labour candidate Woking), Jon Bloomfield (author Migrants and the Making of Modern Birmingham), Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (Renewal), Emily Robinson (Renewal), George Morris (Renewal), Sue Goss (former Chair of the Labour Coordinating Committee), Luke Cooper (Another Europe is Possible), Mark Cooke (Compass), Shuvo Loha (Co-Chair Compass Council), Frances Foley (Compass), Ben Lucas (former Chair of the Labour Coordinating Committee), Neal Lawson (Compass)
Join the Network here: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/join-a-compass-party-group
For further information email: firstname.lastname@example.org