By Joy Johnson
This is a defining moment for Labour. We blew the opportunity that the economic crisis presented to redefine ourselves. Gordon Brown deserves credit for his decisive use of state intervention to prevent a global banking collapse, but he allowed the social democratic moment to slip away, paralysed as he seemed to be by the scars of past arguments in the party. Instead of boldly proclaiming the power of the state, and pursuing a more philosophical course before the last election, we once again faced the electorate confined in the straight-jacket of New Labour.
Even without a mandate the Tories never make the mistake of letting a crisis go to waste. The only difference this time is that they have the active connivance of their junior coalition partners in pursuing a right-wing ideological course.
Now is not the time for Compass to switch from being a Labour Party organisation and open its internal voting to the party led by Clegg, Alexander and Laws. We should be under no illusions they are as equally hell bent on reckless cuts that will increase unemployment and wreck growth. Progressive politics needs many things no doubt, but their input is not one of them.
Once the Liberal Democratic leadership was on the right side of the argument in their opposition to the Iraq war but in reality their small state, anti trade union, free market position never made them left of centre. That illusion, seductive to some at the time of the election, cannot be repeated.
We should instead seek to win over the thousands of Liberal Democrats who despair of a leadership which meekly follows Thatcherite policies. That is quite different from abandoning clarity of purpose. With a new party leader, and a year ahead that presents an opportunity for change it is perverse that Compass is contemplating changing its internal structure. This is the time to oppose the take-over by the markets in our education and health service; this is the time to oppose once again the privatisation of the Royal Mail, and this is the time to concentrate on re-crafting policy within the Labour Party.
Compass was at the forefront in campaigning for a windfall tax on the utilities, against privatisation of the Royal Mail, for a living wage and a high pay commission. It was democratic in its policy goals and was right to follow the vote of its members when they supported Ed Miliband. Changing this will weaken its central purpose of bringing about left of centre change within the Labour Party.