Post-election statement: finding radical hope

At one level last Thursday was an un-expectedly bleak night. The way the daily lives of so many will now be crushed feels almost unbearable to countenance. But anyone reading the runes of Labour, not just for the last parliament but also for a long time, might have seen something like this coming. The great loss is not just measured in seats and what the Tories will do next set free from any Liberal Democrat shackles – but how far adrift Labour is from cultural relevance. If anything ‘first past the post’ exaggerated the party’s performance and protected it from utter meltdown. For the Liberal Democrats the meltdown occurred. Plaid Cymru made little headway but the Greens quadrupled their vote after they quadrupled their membership, retained Caroline Lucas’s seat and offered a radical alternative. At the same time they haven’t managed to influence the national debate from the green-left in an equivalent way as UKIP has from the right. Arguably more positive was the rise of the increasingly social democrat SNP and the growing political confidence of the people of Scotland. How much does any of this show us the grounds for radical hope? The answer is found in more than just parties.

The evidence of just how broken the whole political system has been played out on our screens relentlessly over the car crash of a campaign that was as compelling as it was horrific to watch. Both the real issues and the voters were absent. While a few swing voters in a few swing seats were targeted and precision bombed with retail sugar rush policies, the rest were ignored. ‘Better plans’, ‘hard working families’, ‘competence or chaos’ – the same awful focus group tested lines were rattled out and simply revealed that the less control the political machines have in the real world the more they opt for pseudo control in their shrinking campaign world. It was ‘triple lock’ this and ‘etched in rock’ that in a bloodless and technocratic pursuit of just enough votes to fall over the line first.

Closing the gap

Particularly where the Labour Party is concerned the real gap was not between what was proposed and what might be delivered – but between what was proposed and what is needed. Not enough was on offer that would have confronted our major challenges – not enough to stop the next banking crash or from temperatures from rising, not enough to stop the gap between the rich and poor widening and most telling of all, not enough that would kick start the political processes necessary to ever do what we desire. Not enough hearts or hopes were lifted.

This sterilised and stale politics will of course turn more people off and the downward spiral will continue – the less legitimacy and control the political class have the more they will try and control what remains of their shrinking Westminster bubble. 

The more shriveled this old politics becomes, the greater the space for the new. The sight of the three female leaders embracing on our screens to oppose austerity and trident offered a glimpse of that new politics. The Question Time audience with the knowledge and the confidence to briefly hold the three male leaders to account was another. New parties bubbling up like the Women’s Equality Party, Yorkshire First and the National NHS Action Party, a thousand campaigns on housing, pay, public spaces, community owned renewable energy, anti-trident and more – all filling the gaps and the spaces vacated by the old political class. This and more is where radical hope lives.

While this rich diversity is essential it needs to be formed into an ecosystem in which the sum is greater than the parts. The danger is that it dissipates as people talk across each other. A new progressive alliance will still need political parties to legislate and provide the resources, but those parties are going to have to behave and relate in very different ways too. They’ll need a relationship based on reciprocity and vulnerability inside and outside of parliament. 

This is a huge challenge to Labour in particular. Its tribal, ‘only Labour’ culture is at odds with a modern sentiment that is open and relational. But some existing and many new MPs want a new politics. In local government Labour is showing how electoral power can make things better. Strong voices in the union movement are starting to make the call for Proportional Representation. This plural future, in which Labour is the biggest but not the only tent in a progressive campsite, can be shaped and moulded to fit our good society purpose. If it resists, Labour’s fate in Scotland will befall it everywhere. That is why Compass, working with others, is looking at the feasibility of an independent committee of inquiry to assess why the Labour Party lost, before it decides how it might win.  

All progressive parties need to start to work to together. Clearly there is already a desire for this from progressive voters. That is why Compass gave its support to the independently set up Red /Green vote swap site, which encouraged over twenty thousand to use their vote effectively without damaging the national share of their first party. We need much more of this kind of activity in the future – bringing progressives together to create a 21st century moment for change.

Votes that count

The other big stumbling block is of course the ‘first past the post’ electoral system. Its primary goal was to bring about strong single party governments by exaggerating the seats of the most popular party. Its unfairness was justified by the certainty of the result. The flowering of multi-party politics doesn’t look temporary but structural. In a networked and complex world, binary choices make diminishing sense. You cannot shoe horn seven parties into a system designed for two. With UKIP and the Greens getting over five million votes between them but only two MPs, the case for proportional representation is now overwhelming. But the political crisis won’t be fixed solely through fair votes once every five years. This is a crisis that takes us beyond representative democracy to real democracy every day in every workplace, community and public service. 

Our capacity to be rounded citizens and fully human has never been greater.  The possibility of a world in which together we can build hope for all, educate all to their full capacity, to do work we believe in, have the time for the people and things we love and to have a climate in which all species can thrive – this is all in touching distance – but only if we get the politics right. 

Values before party

The new radical politics is a politics of openness and kindness, a belief in the best of people and the willingness to negotiate a future and not impose it. If you want to be a rebel, be kind.

Compass has moulded and prepared itself for these times – for a time when the project, values and people matter more than the party. We knew that Labour on its own would not be enough and that Labour only ever really changes from external pressure. In this sense, can the SNP be the new SDP? And we were right to say our membership rules needed changing if we let in, say Peter Mandelson but shut out Caroline Lucas. Ours is the open tribe of the future – one that links progressives of all parties and no party affiliation in the pursuit of a good society that is much more equal, sustainable and democratic.

The priorities of Compass in the days, weeks and months ahead will be to help forge a progressive alliance out of the scattered and siloed forces that want largely the same thing; to push in every way we can for proportional representation and a citizens led Constitutional Convention; to use the new democratic spaces opening up now in London and elsewhere to test new political alliances and to use a referendum to explore what Yes means for a radical and democratic Europe. We just lost a battle – but the spaces are opening up everywhere for a new politics to flourish. 

We must never endure such a narrow and sterile election again. That may feel a daunting task but we should remember this – who on the 8th November 1989 would have said that tomorrow the Berlin Wall will fall? Who on 19th September 2014 after a ‘no’ majority would have said that a politics of hope would lift off in Scotland; that Podemos would rise from the ashes of youth unemployment in Spain, or Syriza from debt and national humiliation in Greece? The mood of a country shifts and then its politics follows. So many people were so dismayed at the result – but therein lies grounds for hope as well – in every heart, home, community, workplace and organisation that knows we can be so much better. The Tories have a slim mandate because we failed to offer anything more convincing. So lets do better. As the old politics dies and a new politics is being born, our job is to help ensure that our country has a real choice next time. 

Join us this Saturday in London  for Radical Hope – an afternoon with politicians, activists, academics and journalists and hundreds of people to collectively reflect, analyse and plan what we do next. Click here for tickets.

91 thoughts on “Post-election statement: finding radical hope

  1. You can talk forever, what do you think you can do – the population gave the Tories a majority – you don’t actually think they will leave things as they are vis a vis boundaries – they have time to change that and run the welfare down – already got IDS back in harness. It’s so obvious where they will go. By the time of the next election they will have changed the landscape beyond recognition – the people have only themselves to blame. I cannot believe the stupidity of the public who thought the press were painting a truthful story. Angry, disillusioned, and completely done with any of the whole nonsense. ‘They’ have won – get over it. When it gets really bad, as it will, and the poor stop being serfs – they will be on the streets and I suspect that it will not be pretty.

  2. My concern is that Labour might equally return to the days of tiny groups of obsessive individuals sitting in the corners of pubs solving all the problems of the world, sniping at ludicrous details of left-wing dogma, and producing exactly the fragmented conditions which Blair then understandably sought to sweep away, but super-glued into his own unfortunate vision of statesmanship.

    Yes, let’ s have a return to good Fabian debate; and also know when to stop arguing and actually create policies built not on sound-bites, but on things that those formulating them actually believe in.

    Where are the thinkers and idealists to follow in the footsteps of Benn or Foot? But where, equally, are the characters such as Denis Healey, who might actually forge ideas into something concrete?

    I do not see them anywhere in the Labour Party.

  3. I am sympathetic to the article.

    However:

    – you mean ‘insulated’, not ‘inculcated’;

    – are you sure the Greens quadrupled their vote, as against doubled it?

    – ‘our good society purpose’?

  4. There can be nothing more important now than campaigning for electoral change and getting proportional representation forced through – Join up with UKIP – they have as much to gain as anyone and should be represented. 5 million votes, 2 MPs – thats not right.

    Strike now whilst you can and force proper proportional representation to be on the UE referendum ticket.

  5. At a very simple level, Labour failed to offer hope and a way forward to a better society, but traded instead in a narrow mish-mash of stale policy offers. Miliband’s analysis was, in may respects, accurate but he failed to translate this into a credible alternative to the way things are. Labour was certainly not “left wing”, whatever that might mean nowadays, nor anti-business (as if business any was an undifferentiated bloc), but it was not clear enough about what it was. It came over as dull, mechanistic, technical, managerial. We need to restart from a recognition that politics grows from the heart and the gut, though it may be advised by the head. I never knew what made many in the Labour leadership angry. They lacked passion, drive, commitment, energy and enthusiasm because the vision they were offering was myopic, lacking coherence and credibility.

  6. The situation seems dire at present but we have been here many times before: Every political action provokes reaction and it is now so obvious that current practices no longer work in a multiparty environment. Compass gives a very good lead as to what we should be doing so let us back them to the hilt and perssuade all our friends and family to do the same.

  7. I am not surprised with the Election Results, but very sorry for the result. I did in the past send our local Party members’ feelings to the head office but alas no acknowledgement. After all said and done, the Leader must have charisma. I accept he/she is not a Film Star,but nevertheless, charisma has a tremendous influence on the Public. Second Point is “Nationalism” has a huge role in this game. Average Voter is not concerned about the people who have not enough, as long as oneself is contented. In Britain to-day I feel the nostalgic idea of past rule of “Sun never sets on British Empire”, the so-called Labour Class is no longer the same deprived one. The true British Greatness is in certain section of the population, compassion, tolerance, fairness, but I find this is now lacking in huge number of people. I am at a loss as to how to turn this mode. I shall be interested not in slogans, but practical action to change this.

  8. Not too much navel gazing please, and go easy with the mud slinging too. That isn’t the way to attract new support. I want to see and hear radical politicians talking about issues, not apportioning blame. The public at large don’t care why Labour lost, they want to see active engaged outward-looking politicians.

    Let’s think about how we can campaign against what the Tories have in store, building alliances on an issue-by-issue basis.

  9. I agree about electoral reform. Cameron has 38% of the vote, 50% of MPs. UKip, with two million votes, has 1 MP. Labour and SMP also have a greater percentage of MPs than votes. We need proportional representation, and that is NOT single transferable vote. That was used in the last Labour vote for the leader and we got Ed. That results in a bland and inoffensive candidate. Labour had a good economic record. The debt came from rescuing the bankers, necessary if you didn’t’ want every Pension Fund in the UK to go bust. Every other European country rescued the bankers, too. Why didn’t Labour challenge the statement about “the mess Labour left us” every time it was made? The Blair/Brown split, probably. Blair says Labour must return to its centre position. I don’t want Tory-Lite. I have no intention of voting Tory-lite although I made an exception for Ed.

  10. Most effective realignment is to wind up the Green and Liberal Democrat parties and simply join Labour. Under a single flag the left can win. Not happy that the rise of nationalism in Scotland is considered to be a ‘good thing’ in your article. If there’s one thing the left should agree on, its that nationalism is a bad idea.

  11. While I agree with much of what you write in your ‘Post-election statement’, I believe some of the most difficult issues to overcome are: media ownership, raising awareness of proportional representation, raising general political awareness and understanding and changing a consumer culture.
    To further explain, right-wing propaganda played a huge part in the election, made possible by the particular ownership of the media.
    Raising awareness of PR and its value, as well as raising awareness and understanding of politics and the significance of political decision-making to people’s lives could be achieved through education, the Internet, community groups etc. Changing a consumer culture is difficult because the economy is predicated on consuming and debt. (I believe a kind of consuming addiction exists that deflects from reality and distorts values). In conclusion, I believe understanding politics and the impact of political decisions on our lives is the starting point for real change in our society.
    These are some of my first thoughts!

  12. A constitutional convention would, no doubt, have taken place if Labour had emerged as the largest party, but reliant on others. However, as the Tories have gained an overall majority, this won’t now take place as a government initiative. However, Compass could make common cause with Unlock Democracy, the Electoral Reform Society etc and invite all political parties to a convention. The intention, to reach agreement on implementing constitutional change and electoral reform, as and when a progressive government is next elected. Nothing less than a formal agreement for change between all participants is adequate, so that Proportional Representation is ultimately achieved. We need one initiative, not many, that all can sign up to, and thereby begin to create a democracy that we can all relate to.

  13. Its all so disappointing, yet what is the answer. Unfortunately the majority of people appear to be conservative by nature, and if you tell enough people enough times that a hologram is real they will believe it.Day after day most of the media display a bias to conservative ideas.Even if newspaper sales are down, day after day TV news show their propaganda in so called news reviews compounding the problem.
    In my heart I favour real direct democracy, politically, industrially and eonomically,but is their that same feeling in the electorate?
    The old argument- do we want a share of the cake, the whole cake or the cake factory keeps armchair lefties like me entertained for hours.Meanwhile real people will have to make do with the crumbs from the table.
    Yes, proportional representation would be fairer and equitable, but we are in a system designed for 2 parties – like it or not. Tories have a ready made single party while the left continued to divide. Is it possible,or probable that a Progressive Alliance- formal or informal- be the route? Agreement on a minimum programme ( living wage,prop rep platform etc)with a single progressive candidate in each constituency?
    Might be crap idea- but we need to start talking

  14. The results show just how much work needs to be done to move the country towards an inclusive, progressive, sustainable programme of change. Labour did not set out to do this. It did not offer a vision of transformation, unity and hope. It offered more of the same (with a few softeners) showing it was still tied to a discredited model of economics and outdated notion of work = employment.
    I like the tone of our Compass statement but we need to show that our vision has some real backbone, some practical programmes that will take us towards that vision. These need to include both local and central initiatives and measures dealing with democratic representation and participation, climate change, wealth and corporate taxation, financial reform, and a guaranteed income for all.

  15. Yes you are right! Values are more important than party politics. At my daughter’s school, their election (1600 secondary pupils) resulted on Thursday in a Labour-Green coalition. At the youth group I run, the teenagers in our election debate were so astute at seeing through the nonsense of politics. Greens won by a huge majority in our secret ballot. This is the next generation, the generation of hope. The system will change, but those who’ve been round the block too many times to dare to hope for change will hinder the process. It will happen anyway. By the time my 14 year old daughter is my age (51) she and her friends will laugh about how our country used to be run. They are bright and they are fearless.

  16. My first impression is that you are offering generalities but I hope that behind them there are some solid ideas. “A politics of openness and kindness, a belief in the best of people and the willingness to negotiate a future and not impose it. ” The only thing that is new in this statement is the words used. I have been a member of the Labour Party since 1944.
    My second thought is that very little notice if any will be taken by my comment. Helena did not reply to my last letter which either means she cannot be bothered or she has no answers.
    personally I blame the electorate more than the Labour Party just as I blamed the banks and big business more for the crash than Gordon Brown’s government. As you write, ,a proportional election system is essential to improve the democratic element in our society. With it a written constitution is essential to protect rights and achievements. And compulsory voting would seem another basic need.
    Eric Sanders

  17. Certainly a crisis, of the Left and of democracy. five years ago UKIP and Farage were extremist, unsavoury jokes, today they are mainstream, sharing ground with the ruling tory Party, all of whose Xmases seem to have come at once, almost by an act of god. Centre Left parties suddenly decapitated and bleeding badly.
    What to do?
    One, stand firm and do not panic, do not give the victors more spoils and the chance to gloat while consolidating their power even more by building to an even greater victory in 2020.
    Two, quickly call a nationwide assembly of Left-leaning parties to discuss possibilities for mergers or joined-up tactics to oppose what is bound to be an increasingly unfair, divisive and unjust conservative-led parliament.
    Three, yes, part of this discussion must take seriously the idea of forcing a referendum on PR in light of this election as well as recapturing and building upon the glimpses we saw of during the election of the possibilities of a new, necessary and nationwide array of progressive politics.
    Tear-up the rule book, forget charismatic, singular leaders, allow the progressives to be truly progressive, casting off the shackles of history and, initially in opposition, changing the future of politics as it has done so nobly for the past 100 years.

  18. Thank you for lengthy statement in which there is much to consider. We, in a safe Labour Constituency, will be making our own minds up about what went wrong. However, I must state that I am extremely disenchanted with the moratorium comments made by Blair, Mandelson and now the elder Milliband, which sounded like retrospective wisdom as to how the Blairites got it right and Ed Milliband (and Gordon Brown) got it wrong. The future direction of the Labour party is uncertain and it may be, in my life time, that it will not succeed in being elected again. In the time being austerity beckons for the poor who are destined to get poorer while the rich get richer. Equality in the eyes of many voters driven by the conservatives rhetoric and ethos is not a first priority.

  19. we must not accept neo liberal fantasies! the myths must be exposed
    forcefully without intimidation from the media and vested interests.
    8 old etonians in the cabinet.

  20. Developing some of these themes, a couple of questions need to be asked in order to confirm we are on the right path: What is the goal of progressivism? Is it “the pursuit of a good society that is much more equal, sustainable and democratic” and is there a role for political parties “beyond representative democracy to [have] real democracy every day in every workplace, community and public service”?

    My view is that progressives should consider their aim to be the building of a flexible democratic society upwards from the neighbourhood to the national that would obviate the need for political parties. As builders we would need to construct this edifice to the human scale with four cornerstones: justice, finance, administration and political will. These cornerstones would be the foundation of executive hierarchical bodies responding to societal need and comprised of people elected by their peers. The lower grades would unsalaried. There would be salaried civil administrative teams to support.

    “The answer is found in more than just parties”, it is found in the trust we have in each other to look after each other in a spirit of mutual dependency, worth and respect. Tribes and parties are divi

  21. A good article which gives some hope to those of us on the left who have been thoroughly disillusioned by Labour’s attitude to the other more progressive parties. Labour failed to offer an alternative to austerity but instead went along with the conservative and economist view that there was no alternative. I am very please to see that the SNP are prepared to stand up and make the anti-austerity argument. I only hope that they will do it on behalf of the British people rather than just making a Scottish argument. They will certainly score a lot of plus points by doing so,.

  22. Thanks for your helpful sentiments Neil, but have to raise caution about PR (or AV). As you say UKIP got 4 million votes, and PR will only amplify this influence. You may say that is the price we pay for democracy, but I hold to a principle that democracy must exclude those who wish to do away with democracy. Having close contact fighting UKIP and Farage here in S.Thanet, I have no doubt that this is a fascist party who use gangster methods to achieve their aims. After all Hitler was duly elected by the German people. Like chastity, Lord, not just yet.

  23. The Blairites have moved very fast with their instant explanations of why Labour lost, giving every appearance of having written their diagnosis long before the results came out. But Labour lost votes not only to the Tories but also, on the Left, to the SNP and Greens. Talk of “aspiration” for those on middle incomes is fine but this is starting to look a lot like code for leaving the non-doms and bankers alone. Talk of being “pro-business” is fine if by that we mean a stable financial system, a stable global climate, and a fair deal for small firms against tax-avoiding multinationals. So the Blairite language, whilst not wholly wrong, needs to be unpicked carefully. In the short run, the key thing to go for is, as the Compass statement says, an independent commission to examine the evidence and avoid a simplistic and rushed jumping to conclusions.

  24. Well, interesting article, and inspiring; however please be careful of your points…

    As one person spoke of yes, and obviously… ‘1’ word incorrect, but more importantly…

    You yourself have also fallen into the same “sensationalistic” trap as the media spoke of by polarising the arguments, and making the situation appear worse than this is, such as speaking of PR making the situation worse!

    This is not true, if the vote was truly representational, the seats of the various parties would have been more even spread. There is only a mere 10% approximate different between the number of Tory and Lab votes, but there are a difference of over a 100 seats as I understand this.

    ‘Any’ PR system is going to be more fairer and more proportional than this… so why use these evocative statements, based on the wrong facts, which helps no one, and certainly ‘yours’ or “our” cause

  25. Very surprised to see so little mention of the economy in this discussion of how/where we go on from Labour’s defeat. I think an inadequately articulated positive alternative to economic austerity lies at the heart of that defeat. We know that the nature of a society is underpinned by its method of creating and sharing resources and that to create a ‘good’ society, we need an economy that can credibly support it. But unless we can articulate a vision of the ‘good’ economy, of how wealth is created and distributed sustainably, without exploitation, fairly, creatively etc. etc, then we can have no claim to be genuinely progressive. Austerity reduces resources for the many (low pay, low productivity, low investment etc. etc.). It is economically and politically poisonous. We desperately need an alternative that embraces both fairness and aspiration but none of the progressive parties fully articulated one. We do need PR but it still won’t reflect the will of the people unless they are given very clear, credible economic choices too.

  26. Thank you very much for a very aptly timed pick-me-up. A small experience of optimism here in Norwich South, a constituency that is a fairly normal cross section of southern England. Labour clearly won after decent numbers of friendly, enthusiastic members went door knocking for at least 2 years. It was won with a left wing, openly green, energetic candidate who clearly enjoyed meeting people and having a chat. I only got caught up in it relatively recently but it inspired me and made me feel good about being in the Labour Party without seeing like minded opposition as the enemy.

  27. I feel the objective is simple – Get The Tories Out. To this end we need to build on Caroline Lucas’s idea of a Progressive Alliance where there is only one Progressive standing based on chance of success, and therefore no vote splitting. They could be Green/Libdem/Labour/whatever. Setting up such an Alliance will be tricky, – but we need to do this.

  28. Some immediate thoughts:

    – buildings progressive coalitions and moving beyond tribalism is very much needed. Labour’s chances of governing alone any time soon are remote and we need to be looking at how progressives can work together beyond traditional boundaries. Not sure how but think definitely needed

    – FPTP has to go. It is holding back emergence of multiparty politics at a time when the legitimacy of the big 2 parties is in decline. Hard to see proportional representation being introduced any time soon though

    – The coming battle for the soul of the Labour party will focus on narrative about aspiration and ambition and having broad appeal. How do you square the circle of chasing ‘middle England’ and reconnecting with the core vote and trying to win back Scotland?

    – There are millions who don’t vote, are not interested in, and feel completely remote from politics. None of the main parties seem to care about these voters or want to represent them yet they represent a potentially significant part of the electorate. How can progressive politics give them a voice?

  29. Disappointing but not surprising. As many reasons for the defeat as people that didn’t vote Labour, but my guess is the main one is the economy. Labour left office in the midst of a financial crisis, this election came just as many are starting to see signs of recovery and felt Labour would put that at risk. Secondly Labour’s manifesto was too timid. I always vote Labour but this time did so only as the lesser of two evils and without enthusiasm. Nationalising railways and building council homes would have won votes.

  30. My 2 penneth worth Neal:
    As I see it there are 4 areas that we need to concentrate on if the left is going to succeed in 5 yrs time.
    1) Economy
    We have to embark on a campaign to dispel the economic lie. Postive Money did an excellent job after the crash, explaining in 3 min films how money is created. There are very few people who don’t now understand this. Why has no-one done this on debt/defict and the austerity lie? Why did Labour not defend themselves? Paul Krugman did a wonderful article on austerity but this type of explanation needs to be simple, take down the pub stuff – so that the left is again trusted with the economy. We are leaving the `I’ll explain it to you’ stuff to UKIP

    2) Aspiration
    Richard Murphy has just written a brilliant short reply to Alan Johnson. We need an all out campaign to persuade that aspiration does not need to be materialistic. We need to be encouraging universal vales not materialistic values – playing to their tune will not help us.

    3) Immigration
    This is probably where we lost it. I have spoken to so many people who would have voted Green if not for immigration. We need for people to understand the causes of mass immigration, how we helped to make unstable and make poverty and what we can do to help make such places safe. We need to explain how a brain drain helps our NHS but deprives developing countries of doctors and nurses and we need to be asking people what they would do in the same circumstances. Most of the people who would vote for right of centre are not without values but they have `family’ (security and traditional) values – we can make these people understand that we must give more aid not less and we must help other countries to be places that their people want to stay in. We do not win by silence

    4) We need to make small business proud of their smallness and their localness. In criticising big business, big corporations, we have forgotten the aspirations of small businesses – many of whom have grown up on a story that only big is worthy. We need to drive a wedge, we need to beat the drum and drive home the point that big business puts small business out of business and confirm that the left is NOT anti business. We approve ethical businesses who pay their taxes and employ local people and pay living wages as they have done for donkeys years in what used to be a land of shopkeepers. We need to invoke some pride here. And we need to stop the elitist reward of title for big business leaders. We need a culture change

    And I apologise because I know it is controversial, but we need to advertise to tell a difference story. If advertising can make us want stuff we don’t need it can certainly give us pride in needing less. We can’t ban it so we must compete with it

  31. I could not agree more with what what you say, in particular the ” Values before party, we could learn a lot from the SNP about listening to the people

  32. The “sterilised and stale politics”, far from pissing people off, is obviously what lots of us want. Labour’s wasn’t the only crap campaign, they all were, but the tories won by, as usual, giving people the jitters, courtesy of their stranglehold on the press. When loads of people are saying, the day before an election “I’ll decide when I get in the voting booth who I’m going to vote for” that’s a sure sign they’re going to vote tory, and so it came to pass. Give us sterile and stale, they thought. Excitement is the last thing we need.
    By the way you really ought to know the difference between inculcate and insulate. They might look similar, but they mean completely different things.

  33. We need to hold the Tories to account for everything they promised in their manifesto and in public speeches etc. We need to confront them every time they break their promise or try to introduce legislation they didn’t raise first.

  34. With the advent of Blair and Mandelson the Labour Party simply lost its identity. Rather as did Marks and Spencer when it tried to compete with new companies, like Next, by importing cheap foreign goods. Public relations replaced honest policies that had benefited the whole country rather than the wealthy minority. Thus you lost your market as Daily Herald readers had become Murdoch Sun readers. Your intended market is, the aspirational something or other, is yet another PR policy which is divisive and will fail. The Scots were offered honest, clearly stated policies and accepted the SNP wholeheartedly as did the whole of Britain when accepting the Attlee government. Only in a divided nation can the policies of Conservatism and UKIP’s fascism become acceptable. When fear reigns and that privileged section of society with great wealth is permitted to control government, as it now so obviously does, will those with the security created by socialist policies scurry for their rabid protection. Blairites became the willing servants of capitalism when, with such dishonesty, we attacked Iraq, millions died and problems emanating from the Middle East sullied the whole world and what is your answer? Trident submarines and useless aircraft carriers, subservience to American multinationals and TTIP. It is way past time to replace PR and pride with truth and respect. If you require factual evidence of what has happened to the Labour Party examine the Sedgefield constituency. Tony Blair was the MP here and now we have Phil Wilson, son of a miner, ex shop assistant and parliamentary lobbyist with a PR business.

  35. Friday morning was like watching news that the country had been invaded. I felt anger, concern for us all, disbelief and wrong as it may seem the following small pockets of protest, I viewed as a glimpse of hope, these were the people that will save us from these intruders that come to exploit us, to murder the weak and plunder our wealth. When reality hit home I found it personally insulting that people had actually disregarded the plight of our worse off by voting directly for the Conservative Party or tactically, thus still giving them an indirect vote. Actually feeling anger towards these people, this party had already made the recipients of welfare benefit the scapegoat of the financial problem and sad, mindless sheep that much of the population is, bought in to it. As we all start to see the atrocities that this government inflict on us, it should be noted, that where inequality becomes so great then violence will erupt, it’s human, it’s historical and it’s a fact. We as a country have just joined the realms of others, where we are a divided country, and we are going to be on the world stage for all the wrong reasons. Austerity will diminish and rot the greatness in Britain and no future politics will be able to clean it up, we will stink forever.

  36. I agree with much of the statement. However, the prime issue for me is the corproately controlled media which at election time goes into battle for the party that its owners believe will best support its interests or views. The BBC is now so fearful of its position its journalism is weak and appointments are made from those known to be “acceptable”. So, knowing what needs to change in terms of government policy is only a start: getting a voice that will change the context for voters is the crux of the problem. The Mail, Sun, Express, the Telegraph will always present an anti-progressive view and they are widely read and seem often to set the agenda for commentators in other media. The new media are providing opportunities but that is a slow process. If trade unions and others on the left want to change peoples views they have to find a way to counter the background noise of neo-liberal nonsense. The factual weknesses are there they are seldom aired. This new government will be in trouble very soon as the economy falters and services fall apart: there is a real possibility of a new financial crisis. Before that happens we need to be saying why it is inevitable and what the ways of preventing it are even if that upsets the City or whoever. The Kinnock comment on a Labour Council sending… taixs could equally have been replaced by “the Labour party…taking money and advice on its economic policy from PWC!” Frighteningly one of the major recipients of that largesse may become the new leader of Labour.

  37. I suppose it was too much to hope that post election Labour would avoid doing what they always do and start pointing the finger and saying it was too left of not Blairite enough etc. a sterile and empty argument. it’s depressing and means nothing. But there is grounds for hope, Jon Cruddas resigning his role hearing up policy development to undertake an Independant inquiry, and Caroline Lucas saying that the progressive parties must work together. And Compass,, arguing for a new kind of progriive politics that is inclusive and open. This is why I joined you and not a party. This Saturday at Radical Hope, we begin this conversation.

  38. How can we create a united left??? We need to find some way of there being one vote for the left – we are sooo splintered at the moment.

  39. The Tories will not give you PR, it wasn’t in their manifesto and we rejected AV in a referendum. The only way it will be back on the table is if the Labour party adopts is as a manifesto commitment as part of a pre-defined programme of constitutional reform (abolish the Lords?). The problem is that the Labour Party has already decided that they weren’t ‘centre’ enough and the likelihood is that we will see a return to New Labour. This would be a disaster, Blair wasn’t a visionary, he was lucky, he had the Tories in disarray over Europe for 10 years, he had a booming city pumping money into Brown’s Treasury. Those days are done, Blairism is not the way forward, the party needs to shift to the left and have big ideas (council housing, devolution to local councils, smash the Whitehall bureaucracy) to recruit some of the 15 million voters who stayed at home. If the London elite and the Progress faction don’t like it, they can join the LibDems, which is where their hearts lie anyway.

  40. Oh, and by the way, PR would probably have produced a Conservative /UKIP coalition. Smoke that …. it’s the missing 15 million voters we need to be energising.

  41. I was going to give a detailed response, but the commentators below have covered it comprehensively. Things are going to get bad and, one day, even the super rich will realise they don’t want to spend their whole lives behind security gates staring out at a cultural and moral wasteland.

  42. A ‘Progressive Alliance’ is now the only way forward and needs to be in place for 2020 if the increasing plight of the poor and the inequities being cemented into our society are to be remedied

  43. I entirely agree the 2 party system is an anachronism. The need to move to a more proportional system is evident. The problem seems to be to convince the electorate of this change in the voting mechanism. The referendum held on this issue a few years ago bodes ill. Changes in attitudes often take generations to occur. It will be necessary to continue to press the point of the unfairness of the present system, but expect no damacsene conversion!

  44. Maybe we could also try talking to some Tories to understand why we lost. We must not become a noisy echo chamber. Besides, maybe we should just pretend to be one thing and then do another when we win. It seems to have done the Tories no harm. (And, no offense Sandra, calling the voters stupid isn’t a great start for us to listen and learn from others who hold different views.)

  45. While I agree with much of what Neil has to say, I think he fails to understand some of the reasons why Labour ended up with such a narrow ‘offer’. The electorate has fragmented as never before, and coming up with a vision and a set of policies that will pull together a winning coalition is a formidable task. What is the vision that is going to unite left leaning voters in multi-cultural London who are relaxed about immigration, with white working class voters in the North who want to talk about nothing else? How do you appeal to left leaning Scots who want an end to austerity, and ‘aspirational’ middle income voters in England who fear that any increase in public spending is going to wreck the economy?

    We’d all love the Labour Party to be an open movement that is more like Podemos, or Syriza, or indeed the SNP. But these parties are products of particular political and social circumstances and do not provide a model that can simply be replicated by a UK wide party.

    I’m not coming to Radical Hope, partly because I am exhausted after weeks of campaigning. But mostly because my heart sank when I realised that Compass was organising yet another London based event to discuss the future of the left in Britain.

    There’s lots of good radical campaigns going on in London that those of us based in the provinces can only admire. But frankly the people attending Radical Hope would have been better going off and spending a day talking to ordinary people in a marginal constituency like Nuneaton or Morley and Outwood before they sit down to dream up visions of the future. If John Harris is there, he’ll know exactly what I mean.

  46. Watched the VE Day concert last night and was struck by the difference between that generation, the immediate post-war one (mine) and today’s society. Firstly, we had a community spirit with everyone looking after everyone else instead of just themselves. We knew that some people were disadvantaged, poor or unemployed through no fault of their own instead of calling them spongers and shirkers. We cherished the NHS because we knew people who had died when they couldn’t afford treatment instead of privatising it. We worked hard and saved for a ‘rainy day’ and didn’t spend more than we earned. We respected the BBC as the best broadcaster in the world instead of trying to destroy it so Rupert Murdoch can profit from its demise. We respected the Scots as great engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs and soldiers instead of calling them pariahs who want to come down here to steal our Porshes. I know we had rich businessmen but they respected their workers and didn’t earn over 400 times their average salary. We looked after our old folk and didn’t just put them in homes and forget about them. Finally, we believed in the post-war consensus of a mixed economy for the benefit of society and not just a financial sector for making obscene amounts of money for the few at the top. I could have gone on but have I made my point?

  47. The Labour leadership election is already devolving into a pointless shouting match between those who want to bring back “Blairism” and those who want the Party to move “further to the Left”.

    Both these positions are sterile. Labour must offer solutions to major social problems which developed under the Conservative Governments of the 1980s and early 1990s, and were left largely unaddressed by the Labour Government after 1997. These include the worsening housing crisis, the still poorly regulated finance sector, the failure to rebalance the economy towards manufacturing and production, the consequent worsening of the balance of trade, and still rising levels of economic and social inequality. But Labour must also convince those who want and expect a future of relative prosperity that social cohesion is worth paying for. Neither the historic Left or Right of the Labour Party has much of interest to say about any of this.

    Labour must also address the constitutional crisis that now threatens to pull the United Kingdom apart. This requires a generous offer to Scotland, with further devolution to Wales and (assuming its political settlement can be made to work) Northern Ireland. It also requires a serious plan for devolution to the English regions, since England as a single force in the Union politically and economically dominates the other three parts.

    One obvious early policy step would be to announce that Labour will legislate for proportional representation in local government. This step would help revive local democracy, require Labour at a local level to engage constructively with other political forces including the Liberal Democrats and Greens, and ensure Labour representation in places where it is now largely or completely absent. Since local wards are generally multi-member the usual Westminster argument about breaking the connection between MPs and their constituents does not apply.

    “Left-wing populism” may have its place – although the rise of Syriza and Podemos has occurred in countries with shattered economies and strong communist traditions. But individual populist policy stances do not add up to a coherent political message, and crucially do not connect those who are relatively successful in our economy with those who are not. Labour’s current crisis is now nothing less than existential, and it is only a part of the crisis that now threatens social democracy across Europe.

  48. I’m hoping that a people’s organisation will emerge to approach the 2020 election in a positive manner. There is a lot that needs fixing in social care, health, education and housing. The Labour Party leadership hopefuls rattle on about “aspiration” which is code for the middle class vote. I think that ship sailed from 1997 to 2005. The Labour campaign in 2015 was grotesquely incompetent. While Ed was erecting a stone at a cost of £30,000 I was being assailed by emails from him, his wife and all sorts asking for money. They need someone untainted by this fiasco as well as Blair/Brown/Mandelson.

  49. Interesting article. Certainly agree with idea of a progressive alliance, and hope it will be discussed. Yes NJ the Green Party did quadruple its vote. Also many many far to many still ‘lend’ their vote to other parties, this needs to stop. The main cry of 2 candidates where I live was vote Labour get the Tories out. That worked very well in Hallam !!! So many Green supporters wasted their vote. Of course we need a PR system, no question.
    I’m wanting, but very wary of a progressive alliance with Labour supporters, find it hard to forgive and forget Labour actually targeted Caroline Lucas seat, poured thousands, activists and all the hate and bile they could raise into doing so. IF that money and activism had gone elsewhere maybe Labour could have saved a couple or more seats. It was also a waste of Green resources, instead of combating Labour bile they could have held elsewhere, maybe a couple if other seats could have been won by Greens. I know many in the LP didn’t realise what was being done in their name in Brighton, but nothing like that can ever happen again if people are to work together.

  50. The statement makes a lot of sense but then I clicked to find more about Saturday’s discussion event and was disappointed to find Jon Cruddas with his track record of patronising the futile reactionary romanticism of Blue Labour still headlining the event. The broad left in Britain needs to tangibly relate Britain’s radical tradition of collective action for a fairer country and world to today’s society, not seek comfort in the swaddling clothes of bygone religion and patriarchal community (or, indeed, be obsessed with locating a political centre steadily moving right). Labour’s most pressing need is to be able to tell a story that possesses a depth of understanding of what we face in a way that can resonate with the public. It is not to find another essentially rootless and opportunistic mediagenic leader like Tony Blair – we are all now paying the price of his success, the most vulnerable most of all. After having been an active member of the party in my 20s and 30s I’d love in my 50s to have a Labour Party that genuinely sought to speak to our situation today and was really able to make this country a better place for future generations.

  51. I share much of what you say about the outdated but still strong ‘Labour only’ tribal culture within the Labour party. That is one reason why I remain a Liberal Democrat.
    However, I also share your comment about an alliance of progressives and a large proportion of Lib-Dems are relieved that Nick Clegg’s resignation leaves space for us to return to our ideals without being just a protest party. For example, as a member of the committee of the Liberal Democrat Education Association I would like to see sharing of thoughts on that area of policy; most Lib-Dems are opposed to free schools, want more attention given to those for whom an academic education is inappropriate and want to see a new effective role for local authorities over all schools and colleges in their area so that young people can receive the help they need in order to advantage of opportunities. If we continue to forget the social dimension to education we shall continue to limit the life-chances of many of our young people. Research shows that the biggest factor in the difference between performance of schools is what goes on outside the school.
    As to the Labour election campaign, it failed due to the SNP factor, the lack of a credible overall economic policy and the weight of the link with previous New Labour administration. We need a new vision which plays out in practice as sound financial management, encouraging of aspirations for all people, sharing wealth more fairly, encouraging personal and cultural activities (life is more than just material things) and helping the disadvantaged to develop themselves. The latter I think means more power and resources to local government with a fresh look at how local government can improve the way it works. My recent look at foodbanks convinces me that the way to help poorer people is to give local authorities, charities and the third sector the means to work alongside people, which is far more than providing state hand-outs to individuals from a highly centralised state.

    Nigel Jones
    Newcastle under Lyme

  52. This is the approach I have been waiting years for. If only Ed Milliband had been part of that group hug how different the future would look.

  53. ‘Forging a progressive alliance’ sounds good in theory.

    Trouble is the Greens, for example, define themselves – or did in my constituency – by trashing Labour’s reputation/achievements. The NHS: ‘Labour began the privatisation’; benefits: ‘Labour support the Coalition clampdown’. I could go on.

    ‘So what?’, you might say. ‘That’s what elections are usually about.’ But then you look at the Green’s strategy for achieving change for the disadvantaged, young, sick etc – and they expect Labour to do the heavy lifting. To secure enough MPs across the country to do the business in Parliament. They know the (unfair but established) voting system will make it hard to make any meaningful breakthrough. Meanwhile the planet heats up.

    So, talking is fine – but what’s the Plan B (if Plan A is electing a Labour government in 2020, via a plethora of campaigning activities to win the progressive argument across a much wider group in the meantime)? If Plan B exists, lets articulate and develop it. If it doesn’t, lets concentrate on Plan A.

    A common cause needs to be changing the voting system, and crucially Labour’s support for that option.

  54. Agree with the sentiment Neal but unfortunately for every vote we win through a Progressive Alliance we lose two or many more in the leafy marginals where elections are decided. It was our association with the progressive Scot Nats that partly did for us this time round.
    With PR off the agenda for the foreseeable future the only way forward is to compromise on our ideals and try to produce a leader and progressive policies that might appeal to voters in the marginals ( e.g.by focusing on the wellbeing agenda which is beginning to filter through into the mainstream)..The other part of the equation is to try to raise consciousness of the new ideas through a mass movement so that people we be more inclined to vote for a party advocating them (the Greens have been pointing the way here).
    PS I liked your redefinition of aspiration on yesterday’s News-night which gels with what I have in mind when I refer to focusing on the wellbeing agenda

  55. Profits and sharing within ecological limits is the only viable way forward for politics. This article just elucidates an entrenched left-wing past which does not take into consideration the realities of a post-modern global ecological society. What we need is a politics that promotes individual, social and ecological responsibility in equal measure. This can only be achieved by creating a politics of fear around the dichotomy of what is truly sustainable and what isn’t. Both Labour and the Green Party failed dismally in this respect. We need to shift our political emphasis from the purely economic to the ecological dimensions of our collective survival and in turn promote social and economic justice within an overarching paradigm of ecological justice. This will require a cultural shift away from neoliberal capitalism and materialism to an economic framework of distributive capitalism (see distributism) or quaker-nomics and quality of life indicators such as the Human Development Indicators. Is Labour up to this transition or will it bury itself in class-based economics and anthropocentric social justice issues.

  56. Until something is done to combat the Murdoch media and the Daily Mail with their daily brainwashing of people I don’t see a lot of hope. There were plenty of Sun readers evident at our local on polling day. polling station

  57. Yes, yes, yes.
    This is the kind of hope, inspiration, and bottom-up leadership that we need – a progressive, collaborative, unifying movement that comes together around the big picture vision, whilst allowing the differences on details to exist quite comfortably at this stage.

  58. some fabulous comments – im trying to keep up with them all. Adam made me laugh and Danny – im doing a compass meeting In Edinburgh on Wed and Liverpool soon and more I hope. If people want stuff outside of London – and we do – can you help organising them thanks

  59. Our response to such a terrible result must be carefully considered. With a fixed term five year government there is no need for rushed decisions. Whilst it is easy to blame the electorate the fact remains we, as a movement, failed to present a strong and coherent argument to win. I remain amazed that the constant “red Ed” references in the the press resonated with anyone under the age of forty. However, sadly I accept that Ed’s public persona just gave the media and opponents too many opportunities to undermine him. I agree that there needs to be a broad-based campaign to introduce PR and that could unite the progressives. Whether that group could maintain that unity into the 2020 election is problematic. But I believe it is essential to counter the disaster that another five years of Toryism will wreak on our country.

  60. You are absolutely right to say we need to unite all progressives in a new alliance . The Labour Party cannot do anything alone, it is too remote now from the mood of the Country. The Mandelson experiment has merely sided the Party with all the reactionary elements that are bringing the Country into serious decline.

  61. I posted something yesterday but it seems to have vanished into cyberspace – so instead I’m pointing everyone to Liz Carlton’s comments below which make the same case better anyway. She hits the nail heads.

  62. A lot of sense in what you say. I let my membership of the Labour Party lapse in 2013 after fifty-three years. I am still working with the Party locally as a foot soldier. My national vote would have gone to the Greens had it not been for a slim chance of electing a decent Labour MP in my constiuency. Not again. Local Labour and national Labour are very different animals. I am full of admiration for the former and have no time for the national ‘leadership’. I now want the freedom to work cross party and believe that you cannot stand on the sidelines when it comes to elections – you have to contest – and the impact of UKIP and the Greens in England prove this. I doubt if they will get PR out of the new government. A lot is likely to happen in the next five years and Labour nationally is in a deep hole of its own making. Slagging off the Greens and SNP will only make the hole deeper. 33% of the electorate did not vote – many are cynical about the political class and system – and the left needs to listen to them. The future has to be built on localism and example.

  63. We the hopeful, joiners to a plethora of protest petitions, political parties, progressive movements since 2008, failed to set our sails to catch this new wind of change. We all knew that our voting system would kill our expectations but did nothing to badger the electorate from 2010 on with facts & predictive examples of how this undemocratic system would pan out. Now, we have charts aplenty showing what happened: We could have predicted such likely results. & been able to prove to the electorate that a change was necessary. With Lib Dems in harness & Tories then not confident of a majority, we might have shamed the coalition into admitting the referendum in 2011 was hasty & unwisely voted. We might’ve forced a free vote in favour of adopting the system already used in NI. So now we must study to educate voters & agitate in numbers enough to present a fait accomplit b4 2019: PR or martial law. Yes, that’s what will be at stake. Maybe the government already plans to dispense with our laughable democracy. They behave now, as if they have divine right. So deluge the nations with facts from history. Reasons to shame Tories with past gov’ts’ oppressive injustices. Also, be proud to cite British values espoused by great figures of all parties. Boast moral victories, reasons the welfare state was approved by all parties for over 30 years; heroes that risked all for the freedoms now being dismantled; demonstrate predictions for policies the populace will either mostly deplore or mostly welcome. We simply ask for real Democracy. … Enough for now.

  64. There are three sets of comments I would like to make here. I apologise if they overlap with other comments. People are having a great chance to get things off their chest. Thank you, Compass!
    (1) People would do very well to consider the piece by Shaun Lawson in openDemocracy posted 11 May 2015. “How to stop Boris?….” It is one of the basic elements of Game Theory that, in a multi-party game (eg British politics at the present time), those that combine to beat the others stand the best chance of winning.
    Labour seriously goofed in 1997 by not joining up with the LiberalDemocrats after the election and, then, not putting PR in place. Hubris!
    (2) The Scots have shown the way with regard to austerity. Scrap it! It is based on erroneous economic theory.
    Labour has been pussy-footed about this, partly because it was afraid to admit how seriously it was misled by the bankers in the 2000’s, partly because it didn’t realise how deeply dishonest the Tories would be about the deficit (and Labour was always fearful of media distortion of anything they might say), their intention to dismantle the NHS and the country’s social security system, partly because it didn’t have the brains or experience to dominate HM Treasury, rather than be dominated by it, and partly because it didn’t realise that the concept of PFI was seriously flawed. On the financial front there are other issues.
    (3) I would invite readers to study my piece for Compass, “Energy Companies and People Power”, dated 31 October 2013 and on the website as DISCUSSION. It is a revision of a piece Joe Cox helped me to write in April of that year (and put on the website, before its reorganisation) and which was seen during the Summer of that year by shadow cabinet ministers.
    The sad thing about its non-adoption (as opposed to the price-freeze proposal that was made) is that it could have blunted accusations that Labour was anti-business and could have given all categories of consumers the thought that Labour was on their side and that they could benefit from a climate of cooperation with business.

  65. In view of the right taking control of New Labour, clearly there would be little point in supporting it.

    The Trade Unions are only used by these right wingers to gain funds
    and again there would be little point in continuing the farce.

    For the Labour Party to survive it will need to return to it’s roots, Clause 4 and all.

    Should Labour move to the right, then support for a New Party would be inevitable, as happened in the past left wing parliamentary members should be encouraged to leave the Labour party and join Left Unity, thus giving an alternative voice in parliament.

    The Unions should cease funding New Labour and transfer to Left Unity.

    The first year should concentrate on policies for government, the following years be relentless campaigning.

  66. Yes, I agree with what you say. A lot of voices are saying similar. My husband has just waved George Monbiot’s article in today (13th May) Guardian at me, saying I must read this too.
    I canvassed for Labour and at our post-poll party on Saturday, despite the defeat, the tone was upbeat. We had worked together and found strength and warm friendship from that; we talked about the fight back over the next 5 years and discussed just the issues raised in your article – about the need to form a progressive left coalition, of recognising Greens and other progressives as our partners and allies and how we could begin to locally work together; about the example of Scotland and how we could generate similar enthusiasm in young people here.
    I am only worried that we will fragment again, that there will be 4 or 5 groups calling out for us to organise much as you are doing.

  67. I agree with many that Labour’s economic policies were a mish-mash – we need politicians who can clearly elaborate the failures of neo-liberal economics – as Varoufakis does.
    What I’ve not noticed in the comments above is any empathy with those who have been adversely affected by the massive immigration of recent years; nor of their perspective (in my view correct) that the EU is thoroughly undemocratic. (NB I do acknowledge that they’ve been sold a false message by a segment of the 1%.)
    I agree we would be better off talking to ordinary people in Nuneaton etc”.
    It’s unlikely that demanding PR will get anywhere – both the Tories and Labour benefit from first past the post.
    In my view we need a 4 part plan
    1) a sincere conversation with all those segments of the 99% who’ve been mislead.
    2) a massive programme to defeat the constant framing of issues against a false set of values – with social media we have the technology – we just need the will, the organsation and the content.
    3) a massive programme to rebuild grassroots democracy in all parts of our lives – there’s so much of this going on – we just need to scale it.
    4) an attractive, just and achievable vision of the good society.
    As well as a progressive alliance, we need FOCUS!

  68. I’d like to clarify “adversely affected by the massive immigration of recent years”, I meant “adversely affected by the massive immigration of recent years, and the failure of governments to provide the necessary housing, services and regulation of the minimum wage”

  69. Labour’s messages are broadly good, but lost because its campaign machine does not communicate them as effectively as the Tory machine does. Thus, the Sunday after the election, Tim Montgomerie, not even an MP but a Tory hack, on the Marr show, was right on Tory message: The Byrne note, “there was no money”, Labour “did overspend” and “will they acknowledge their economic incompetence?” So Labour’s machine must without a moment to lose using the considerable body of evidence available establish the counter narrative of Tory economic incompetence. Doing so would undermine the possibility that the erstwhile successful Tory economy narrative might be continued until 2020 and put Tories on the back foot. Labour’s temptation, though, is that as in 2010, it will neglect to do so for a protracted period of introspection and leadership election again leaving the field open for the likes of Montgomerie.

  70. First of all labour is not to the left it’s to the right and when Miliband went to the left, it did not take Progress or Blair long to state hold on your going the wrong way.

    We have a perfectly good modern and winning right wing Government it’s called the Tories, it had a period in which Thatcher had gone and the Tories were in a real mess voting in poor quality leaders who did not know what to do and which way to go, so Hague was no match for the right wing Blair, and then IDS and of course Howard all fell at the post and then Cameron got in and Blair left walked away to make his promised fortune .

    Today labour is not sure of whom it is where it’s going and whether it’s to the right or to the left or in the middle, and until it gets a leader which says something like the left is dead and labour is now the Progress party, or progress is dead and labour is the party of the left this argument and battles will carry on.

    Labour is not the party of welfare or benefits when most of those who vote labour will be getting some form of welfare or benefits.

    What a silly thing to say just before an election, but it worked well for the Tories.

    Labour hardly spoke about any one on welfare not even those on pensions it was just the swing voters and the middle class, well the Tories spoke the better and won, Scotland has now gone and labour has a choice break into factions either Scottish labour Welsh labour English labour then you can battle for your regions.

    Me I’m not even interested in voting being disabled.

  71. “The Tatler” doesn’t rank that high on required reading of the progressive left,I guess.In their educational material I came across a review of an privately owned prep school.The inspector’s report said, in effect, that there wasn’t much point in assessing the school’s performance using standard criteria because their attainment levels
    were stratospherically so high above them in all aspects.
    The fees are 3~5 £K per term.You can buy superb education,and health care.Neal/Compass have continually examined this issue.
    How many PLP stalwarts have,rather than taking advantage of it?!
    Vive the aspirational difference!

  72. How can a strong Left Alliance be built? The eternal fragmentation of the Left suits and perpetuates the Right. The often footling differences between and within Left groups seem infinitely more important to them than the bigger objective of social justice.
    And how wide this Alliance? Even Green and Labour together under PR would not beat the Con vote (see BBC website) without UKIP help. You mention the LibDems only in terms of (merciful) shackles, but until Clegg they were definitely on the Left. The welfare state belongs as much to Lloyd George, Winston Churchill (when Lib) and Beveridge as to Labour. The LibDems and New Labour are on the same hymn sheet, really.
    If a genuinely Centre-Left alliance was created that was not shy about its business friendliness and kept pointing out that a generally prosperous working and middle class would create a much more buoyant economy than the now discredited ‘trickle-down’ from the super rich, then that would attract the central core of aspirational voters with a social conscience whom that Alliance must win back to get into and keep power.
    There is some hope: The Right has a huge fissure over the EU which the promised referendum could even split the Tories, leaving the 2020 election a hopeful target for your said Alliance, if it can coalesce in time. Can the Fabians help again as they did in the last desperate crisis for the poor? Theirs was a wide-church, unsentimental, technocratic, gradualist approach, but given passion by G.B. Shaw and compassion by Beatrice Webb.

  73. ” If anything ‘first past the post’ exaggerated the party’s performance and protected it from utter meltdown.”

    Not really. Labour got 30.4% of the vote and 35.7% of the seats. On a proportional basis it would have had 197 seats instead of the 232 that it got. That’s a significant difference but hardly meltdown.

    However, I agree that FPTP has got to go. It is not only deeply unfair but also a block to the formation of new parties and therefore artificially props up the increasingly sclerotic major parties. We need a system that allows people to vote for what they believe in. This would stand a chance of breaking through the current sterile political discourse of the major parties.

  74. Dear Compass. I got involved with Labour’s campaign as Ed represented a decent set of values and policies. The electorate thought differently and although Labour increased its voters it lost many seats. What is clear is that a lot of Labour votes went to UKIP.
    There is a small continuing rise in Green votes but nothing like the UKIP emergence. SNP in Scotland content themselves that they are representing a left-of-centre resurgence they’re not, they are picking up UKIP style xenophobes, protest voters and anyone who wants more power devolved, plus all the would-be Labour & Lib Dems.
    What I found in my many weekends knocking doors is that the ‘townie’ upper-middle-class had taken over the national Labour party, this group also liked Green and some LibDems remain here too – we are all fighting the same ground and using language like ‘progressive’, ‘social democrat’….this sends many more people to UKIP than it engages.
    I hear the metropolitan naval-gazing is to continue through Compass and I think I should spend my time in working men’s clubs and pubs, outside bingo halls and discount supermarkets and on estates engaging with working class and non-working people rather than talking in a bubble with other better-off people – is this the way to change things? Do Compass want to talk to ordinary people, or just ‘clever’ one’s?
    Join us this Saturday in London for Radical Hope – an afternoon with politicians, academics and journalists – I don’t think so….

  75. Looks like we’re on course for the thin, thin gruel of New, New Labour but, instead, the party could surprise us and try the following:
    1. Outline a hopeful vision of a fairer, better UK based on collective aspiration not individual aspiration (see the postscript at the end of the Green Party manifesto for pointers…);
    2. Present a short, simple coherent economic narrative based on a call for a balanced economy where it is made crystal clear to people, up front (i.e. years before the next election), what Labour thinks should be in the private and public sectors respectively – and why (public ownership of public services is more popular than people think, see the evidence from the We Own It campaign);
    3. A bold retail offer of income tax cuts for the majority to be paid for by proper income and wealth taxes on the richest – so pose the inequality question brutally and directly and put the party unequivocally on the side of working people rather than rentiers;
    4. A renewed commitment to democracy including pristine internal party democracy (don’t throw stones from glass houses), PR, federalism, abolition or democratisation of the Lords, recall of MPs and an in/out EU referendum. Labour needs to start trusting people, not managing them.

    If Labour cannot achieve this on its own, then it should become part of a Progressive Alliance. To usher in the progressive century we all hoped for (and which seems like a sick joke at the moment) the various strands of the left need to submerge their differences in the way that small business, large business, finance capital and industrial capital successfully submerge their differences in favour of their overall preferred free-market vision.

  76. sorry Neal,when I wrote that “The Tatler” wasn’t required reading for the progressive left,I’d completely forgotten about Chuka Umuuna.

  77. You sound as if you were as surprised as all the rest of the besuited commentariat at the election results. Were that so, then you really had not noticed Scotland… Scotland’s rebirth right back in the Constitutional Convention before devolution which grew in quiet strength and finally came into full flower now, having been pruned so hard by the referendum last autumn. Only the blind were surprised.
    While I support virtually all you say here, how dare you not publish this manifesto a month ago or three months ago and simply go meekly into the pathetic, negative, tory-driven Miliband lobby! How dare you follow Labour backwards on proportional and fare representation over the past five years and call for it now as if there’s been some surprising sudden change!
    I watched the Scottish groundswell for “independence BUT NOT SNP” last year, and how since September it has been blowing Sturgeon’s party towards social democracy. Like millions of social democrats in England I have cheered their positive cries towards equality and dignity against xenophobia and class war; I am lucky and proud to have Lucas as Brighton MP and I have not had to join the cries from around England of “why have we no SNP candidate?” I listened to Lucas and to Sturgeon – and then to the negative, pathetic, no-where world of Balls and Miliband. No contest.

    Cameron did not win. Surely this is clear by now?

    – Labour and Lib-Dems were trashed in Scotland because of their patronising disdain and cynical desires to use a Scottish electorate for their own Westminster ends – as well as because:
    – Lib-Dems were trashed UK-wide for abandoning both parts of their name as they got into bed with the Tories, and:
    – Labour was trashed UK wide for their inability to have any positive life-affirming anti-Tory and even social democratic alternative
    while…
    – SNP and Greens (certainly here in Brighton) prospered because they had positive, radically different, encouraging, anti-austerity and pro-fairness messages for which millions were crying out.
    Oops, and now, after the “shock” of the rather obvious election result… here we go together.

    For one example among so many, “The case for PR is overwhelming” you say – today, when there’s no chance in hell of it being on a Tory agenda. But where was Labour saying even that two weeks ago, two years ago…?

  78. My heart sank at the thought of another 5 years of a Tory government unrestrained by the Liberals. I was angry that my vote didn’t count and I was concerned for the NHS, Education and the vulnerable in our society. AND THEN I THOUGHT

  79. My heart sank at the thought of 5 years of Tory government unrestrained by the Liberals. I was angry that my vote didn’t count. I was concerned for the NHS, Education and the vulnerable in our society. AND THEN I THOUGHT – this is how a conservative must have felt when Labour got into power!! What a way to run a country swinging one way and then another. You couldn’t run a business or and organization like this and expect ‘success’. We have got to look for shared values, what we can all agree on etc Any yes, I know that isn’t an easy option – not at all, but it is the only way to built something that is sustainable and fit for purpose, not to mention looking after this finite planet of ours. We need to stop seeing money as the only measure of value and to recognize what we all really know, that it is the relationships we have with people that give value and meaning to our lives and it is them we call on when the chips are down.

  80. Nothing can be mare depressing for someone who has spent over 35 years in the Labour Party, than reading the proposals coming forward from the candidates for the Leadership of the Labour Party. The actual election results show just how poor their powers of understanding are. Where the voters were offered a credible ant-austerity alternative, they voted for it (Scotland, Brighton etc.) and in parts of London, where there are an increasing number of well off electors (Hackney, Haringey, Islington etc. Labour did very well giving the lie to the Blairite mantra that Labour lost because it did not appeal to the centre ground. I am fully in favour of linking up with other political organisations who are trying to change and improve the system.

  81. Agree with much of the Compass statement. Particularly, though, on constitutional/electoral reform, the need is much wider than PR. Wales could be the next Scotland for Labour – we are largely ignored by the Labour Westminster cabal! So there are huge issues around devolution and regional autonomy, the House of Lords, the voting age, compulsory voting, etc., etc. And the Tories aren’t going to do anything about this – Osborne’s northern power house is a cynical ploy, with a catch 22 for local Labour, given the shredding of local government that has happened over the last five years, and will continue for the next five as well.

  82. Just a short comment about a “progressive alliance.” There is one already: the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. Lots of organisations, trade unions and progressive individuals are active in it. There is a demonstration taking place in London on the 20th June. Already over 45,000 people have committed to it through social media. Also demonstrations have already taken place in towns and cities across Britain against austerity. That there should be such a reaction so soon after a general election is, in my experience, unprecedented.. The 20th June should receive the support of all progressives.

  83. The leaders of five political parties, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrats and UKIP, were present in Downing Street to hand over a petition calling for voting reform for elections to the House of Commons. These five parties are now signed up for electoral reform, it is on record.

    Pressure now needs to be put on the contenders for Labour’s leadership. They are in a vulnerable position at the moment. They all claim to be the candidate representing ‘change’. Well, our voting system urgently needs changing. They should be challenged at all these open forums that they are going to attend. If one of them breaks ranks and commits themselves to a change in our voting system, they will have an advantage over the others. The others might be quick to follow suit?

  84. How true – and it overlaps a lot with what Frances O’Grady (TUC Sec) said yesterday at the Ken Coates Memorial Lecture.

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