In the wake of the decision by Compass to “open out” as an organisation and admit members of other political partys, the organisation has been hit by a spate of resignations. Today nine prominent members of Compass Youth committee (including the chair, and a member of the national management committee) have resigned from the organisation. In a statement released to LabourList this afternoon, they argue that the new rules “diminish the role that Compass is able to play in shaping Labour’s future, estranging itself from many Labour supporters.”
You can read the resignation statement below:
We joined Compass as an organisation seeking to give a coherent voice to mainstream members of the Labour Party when the party leadership was becoming dangerously divisive. Not only was it disconnected from the membership, but it was increasingly oblivious to public opinion.
For many of us, it was Robin Cook’s opposition to the catastrophic invasion of Iraq that initially drew us to Compass. But it was the way in which the organisation challenged thinking in the party, on the role of the market and the need for an active state, which galvanised new activists. The divisions over tuition fees and foundation hospitals helped bring Compass to life, but it established itself when tackling those in the party advocating public service reform in the shape of Post Office privatisation and trust schools.
With Ed Miliband as leader, we have a greater opportunity than ever to re-shape the direction of the party, but that debate still needs to be had. Unfortunately, Compass has recently chosen to allow members and elected representatives of parties that stand against Labour to become members of Compass and help set its direction. This will necessarily diminish the role that Compass is able to play in shaping Labour’s future, estranging itself from many Labour supporters.
We feel it necessary to organise in support of the politics initially espoused by Compass as members of the party, within the party, rather than through a broader structure so that we can credibly have this debate. It is for this reason we have resigned from Compass. We would welcome all those who share our view of a changed Labour Party to continue this discussion on how we move forward.
Ben Folley, Compass Management Committee
Cat Smith, Chair, Compass Youth Organising Committee
Caroline Alabi, CYOC
Arthur Baker, CYOC
Heather Elliot, CYOC
Ben Furber, CYOC
Lucille Harvey, CYOC
Axel Landin, CYOC
Ben Soffa, CYOC
In response to the mass resignation (which leaves only three members on the Compass Youth committee), Vice-Chair Luke Pearce told LabourList:
“I’d like to thank all of the people who have resigned for their work on Compass Youth. They obviously felt unable to work with the organisation, which is their choice. I disagree with them on the issue, but respect their right to act on their views.”
“We’ve obviously taken a bit of a hemorrhaging on the committee but we’ll do our best to keep the organisation going over the coming months until we get get a fuller committee together.”
“Personally, I want to continue working with people of like-minded, social democratic views – even if these people might have made a different pragmatic decision when it comes to party affiliation. I’m happy to work with willing people across the centre left in striving for the better world that we all want to see.”