What’s Left? The state of global social democracy and lessons for UK Labour

Lisa Nandy, Neal Lawson and others

Cover page of What's Left

Across much of the world the centre-left is in crisis. In Britain, where the Labour Party has fared better than most, the left still grapples with how to respond to future challenges and is struggling to understand its place in a world where class politics has been turned on its head. In the 2017 and 2018 elections affluent voters turned left, while those hardest hit by years of austerity were increasingly willing to turn right.


This fascinating new pamphlet shows how, across the world, decades of neoliberalism have left their mark. It tells a story of a movement that more often than not has lost its way, searching for answers to the new challenges of automation, climate change and identity politics, but lacking a wider sense of purpose. The near total control of corporations, extending beyond business to the economy, politics and society, has left social democrats who traditionally looked to the state for answers searching for new ways to restore power to people who increasingly feel its absence.


Whichever lessons are drawn from this pamphlet, this is a debate we must have. The collapse of neo-liberalism, the rise of angry, polarised politics and a growing public discontent has made it clear that ‘the institutions and dogmas of a quiet past’, as Abraham Lincoln put it, ‘are unfit for the stormy present’.


The future is up for grabs but only to those who are willing to question, listen, think and pioneer. In recent years, as global crises have left us buffeted, politics has felt increasingly small and parochial. This pamphlet seeks to reach out across national boundaries, drawing on our international traditions in order to seek the inspiration for change, from wherever it is best learnt.

Read the report

Compass started
for a better society
Join us today