Compass, as our name suggests, is always on a journey. We started by just wanting to influence the direction of the Labour party, but we have grown into something much more ambitious. Today, we want to influence and build alliances across all the progressive parties, and to create a democracy in which all voices are heard so that we can negotiate a future together. Nothing less will do.
Progressive Alliances (PA), an idea long championed by Compass, are the strategic, values and purpose based coming together of civil society organisations, social movements and progressive political parties to – in the first instance – break the logjam of our electoral system. Following the Brexit referendum, the idea of a Progressive Alliance has taken root in the public consciousness, offering unprecedented glimmers of hope for new movements and new ideas. The Guardian, the New Statesman, openDemocracy and many others have recently featured articles on progressive alliance building. A recent YouGov poll on the Labour leadership election showed that the majorities of both Smith and Corbyn supporters would be happy to be in coalition with the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru. ‘The Alternative’ – a collection of essays compiled jointly by a leading Labour MP (Lisa Nandy), a Liberal Democrat (Chris Bowers), and a Green (Caroline Lucas) and supported by Compass has launched this month, covering the policies and values that could unite the progressives and the possible mechanisms for cooperation.
Over the last few years, Compass has been at the forefront of the efforts to prefigure this new politics. Amidst the wilderness of post-Brexit Britain, we decided it was time to start organising. On the 5th July we brought together over a 1000 people to begin the conversation, including representatives from Greens, Labour, Lib Dems and SNP. You can watch the highlights on the Compass website. Following on from the event, we organised or were involved in a string of similar well-attended meetings in Brighton, Frome, Liverpool, and Wealdon with upcoming PA events confirmed in Birmingham, Lancaster and Surrey – see our website for full details of the events and how you can get involved in local organising.. Our first crowdfund for Progressive Alliance brought us over £4000, which we used to run our first major event and the local meetings that followed. This was invaluable in beginning the overwhelmingly task of building the political, institutional and cultural infrastructure to replace our outdated party political system.
After the July event, we asked attendees what they wanted to see from the project in the coming months, and the consensus was that there is a need for an online hub where people can engage with each other and with the ideas, share content and information on upcoming events and actions.
We are fundraising for £5000 to build this platform. Can you help?
From now until 2020, Compass will be throwing all of its weight behind building Progressive Alliances as a long term strategy to change British politics, and the engagement hub will create a crucial space for building the relationships and alignment required to make a new progressive politics possible. Please donate to our crowdfund and help us bring the hub to life.
This long-term campaign for Progressive Alliances will include the development of an extensive strategy document and crowd-sourced manifesto, more regional participatory meetings, engagement with civil society groups and sustained media campaigning. The work will encompass an inclusive, systemic and democratic approach in order to create the conditions necessary for a progressive alliance to flourish. Compass, of course, cannot carry the weight of this project on our own, nor should we try. We will work with all initiatives, parties, organisations and individuals who share our values to achieve change. Crucially, we can act as a convener to bring people, organisations and ideas together. But we can’t do it alone. We will need your support and guidance throughout the journey, and here’s where you can start…
Naming the campaign – does the term Progressive Alliance accurately represent our aims? And if not, what should we use instead?
Local meetings – where should we hold PA events, who should be in the room, and how should they be run?
Contributions from women for the blog – we want to run a series of blogs and think pieces by women that look at how Progressive Alliances could amplify the voices of women in politics. If you’re a self-defining woman, please email Ayeisha with your thoughts and help us make sure the progressive alliance is a feminist alliance.
If you have ideas or suggestions, let us know by commenting on this blog post on the Compass website.
And really importantly –can you donate to support our efforts?
Progressive Alliances cannot just be the rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic and a ‘coalition of losers’. It must feel, look and be fresh; something people want to identify with, especially young people and people who sense something new is needed, but have not found a place for their engagement. Because we are a unique organisation that wants to be political rather than a charity, it’s really tough to get external money. So the answer comes from within. We need you to give now to help us make the most of this moment.
The job of Compass is to ensure the new is born. Help us do that.
Other interesting reads on Progressive Alliance: