The Guardian article about Compass agitation is a fabrication – talking of leadership changes now only aids the Tories
By Ben Folley
This article was also published on LabourHome.
Patrick Wintour and Allegra Stratton’s article on Compass published on the Guardian website last night is certainly one of those. It fits in well with the line of Toby Helm’s article in the Observer two days before, which stated the left of the party was actively working with the Blairites to elect a new PLP Chair in the coming days on an anti-Brown ticket. Whoever has briefed Patrick Wintour, Allegra Stratton and Toby Helm may be disappointed not to have it their own way, but that does not excuse their actions, which can only damage Labour.
Whilst we are behind in the polls, there are some signs we are clawing our way back. There is much that Brown needs to say and do if we are going to claw our way back enough to save this government at the next general election, but what is very clear is that another bout of internal arguments over who leads the party can only drag us back down and ensure a Conservative victory.
The most recent Compass Management Committee was held less than ten days ago and the suggestion by Wintour that Compass believes ‘if Brown stays, an election defeat could be so heavy that there would be little left of the party to inherit’ is simply a fabrication. Neither is it true that Compass is waiting for the pre-budget report ‘before deciding whether to move against him.’
In fact, it has been noted within Compass that the Brown government is showing some positive fresh thinking – which is also positive with the electorate – with the introduction of a 50% income tax rate for the rich and that a Tobin Tax would be a welcome tool in helping to control some of the wilder money flows encouraged by neo-liberal economics. Opinion polls show investment in new council housing and the cancellation of Trident replacement are popular with voters. Alan Johnson and David Miliband, both mentioned in the Wintour article, show no sign of changing tack and offering an alternative to the economic agenda of New Labour.
What Labour does not need are those within the party playing games for their personal advantage. What was evident in June when the hardcore Blairites attempted their most recent coup against Brown was that they were not seeking to secure the more progressive policy framework necessary for Labour to rebuild its support.
As with Wintour’s, Toby Helm’s article on a left-right alliance amongst MPs challenging for the Chair of the PLP – as a mechanism to change the leader – is not borne out by reality. Every media report on Sheerman’s posturing gnaws away at the party’s credibility whilst the left is well aware it has the best representative it could hope for in Tony Lloyd – a principled man who represents the mainstream of the grassroots membership.
Talking about a leadership challenge now simply aids David Cameron. What Labour now needs is for Brown to deliver some new and positive messages, which connect with people on the ground and take the fight to the Conservatives.
Ben Folley is a Compass Management Committee member. He writes here in a personal capacity.