Tuesday 17 November 2009

The Compass plot

This looks to me like some very bad news tonight for John Rentoul's AJ4PM campaign.

The Guardian reports that the left-wing pressure group
Compass is thinking of bringing down the Prime Minister, though
there may still be some details to work out in the Compass coup strategy:

A source at Compass confirmed that the organisation's most recent management committee meeting saw a majority who believed Brown should go before the general election, but without any consensus on when or how he should be replaced.

The cabinet remains crucial to Brown's security ...



Criticism of Brown's leadership will anger No 10 as it seeks to build on small progress in the opinion polls and a strong byelection performance in Glasgow North East. It insists that the 4,000-strong Compass has little traction in the parliamentary party.

Senior figures in Compass, however, point to a database of 30,000 supporters.

Yep, they've definitely got my email address. Have they got yours too?

Remember the anonymous hotmail plot in Parliament? But perhaps an e-campaign spam plot across the grassoots will do better.


Still, one of the untold stories of the events of last May appears to be the crucial role played by Compass in saving the Prime Minister.

The group held out against the previous coup attempt in June, but now fears that if Brown stays, an election defeat could be so heavy that there would be little left of the party to inherit.

Exactly how this influenced David Miliband or Alan Johnson or other Cabinet members is left slightly unclear.

{UPDATE: And Compass chair Neal Lawson did publicly call for a change of leadership in May 2008, though the piece argued both that it was not really a change of leader that mattered, and that Gordon Brown should go back to being Chancellor and let somebody else take over].


Meanwhile, in Parliament ...

After much speculation about somehow changing the leader through a proxy challenge for the chairmanship of the PLP.

Rebel MPs intend to meet the chair of the parliamentary Labour party, Tony Lloyd, in the next few days to declare that no one would stand against him on an anti-Brown ticket, on the proviso that certain changes are made to strengthen the hand of parliamentary Labour party members.


Compass have issued a statement on Wednesday, which distances the organisation from the story without denying it, and

The Compass Management Committee recently had a routine meeting and had a conversation about the political situation and the uphill struggle facing Labour and its leadership. Sadly some of the conversation was given to the press. Compass is increasingly concerned by the threat of a Tory victory at the next election.


The Committee will continue to discuss political matters and it would be absurd if we didn't. But speaking out of turn to the media will be strongly discouraged.

According to the Compass website the Management Committee involves the following people for 2009/10:

The current members elected for the year 2009/2010 are: Neal Lawson (Chair); Sue Goss (Vice Chair); Mark Cooke (Treasurer); Meg Russell; Chuka Umunna; Sam Tarry; Jenna Khalfan; Willie Sullivan (Scottish Rep); Ben Folley; Gemma Tumelty (co-opted); Joy Johnson (co-opted); Jon Cruddas MP (Parliamentary Rep); Andy Howell (co-opted); Noel Hatch (Compass Youth); Matthew Hall (Welsh Rep); David Ritter (co-opted). Gavin Hayes, the General Secretary of Compass, also serves the committee as its Secretary but as a full-time member of staff does not have voting rights.


Unknown said...

Given that I left before the end of the Compass AGM (had stupid shit to sort out), I'm not best-placed to offer a definitive report.

But I stayed for the policy vote, though not for the final group brainstorming on direction and future policy possibilities etc.

Nothing was said about making it a campaign aim to get rid of Brown. Lots of talk of making sure Tory victory is kept to a minimum, remarks that Brown is not ideal, but that's it.

My guess is that this is media something-out-of-nothingness.

p.s. next year can you please put the Fabian AGM on a different day to the Compass one...

Sunder Katwala said...

Thanks. Yes, we weren't aware of the clash until quite recently, and i imagine the same vice versa; we set ours at the previous year's AGM and then run it in our party conference magazine.

So I did swap emails with Gavin today to say we had gone for Sat 13th November 2010, and we will both try to avoid significant clashes.