Compass votes to let Liberal Democrats join as full members

We’ve covered in various forms the moves by the traditionally Labour pressure group Compass to reach out across party lines (such as in this guest post from its chair Neal Lawson and in this review by Paul Walter of one of his articles). Compass this week took a further step by opening up its membership:

68% of our members have voted in favour of constitutional amendments which end the rulings that restrict membership to those already in Labour or entitled to be so.

The vote represents a clear sign as to the future direction of progressive politics, a resounding rejection of narrow party tribalism and the embracement of centre-left pluralism.

Neal Lawson, Chair of Compass said of the result: “From today anyone who shares our vision of the good society can join Compass. Labour, Greens, Liberal Democrats and people of no party.

“The vote signals a big step toward a new politics. What matters is what people believe and what they will do about their beliefs – not what party card they hold or if they have one at all. Tens of thousands of people want a world that is more equal, sustainable and democratic. Now Compass can play an even bigger role in the creation of that world.

“Of course Labour remains the biggest and most important party in this progressive movement for change. Compass will maintain a special relationship with Labour and Ed Miliband who we gave overwhelming backing to. But Compass will exert more influence on Labour and be more capable of building and sustaining a wider alliance if we get everyone involved in the process of making the economy the servant of society.

Turnout in the Compass ballot was 13%.

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Martin Veart 26th Feb '11 - 4:16pm

    68 percent – that is an okay margin. But of only 13 percent of the membership? Nine percent of Compass voted to extend membership. It seems that very little of the Labour membership is actively engaging with the group. Which is sad because if the percentage is so low in such a major constitutional ballot, what is it like on the bread and butter issues?

  • I think the turnout is so low because Compass think they have more members than they really have. On their website they claim to have 40,000 members and that seems improbable.

  • Cllr Nick Cotter 26th Feb '11 - 7:52pm

    This can only be welcomed !!

    Good News.

  • I am doubtful that this tells us anything about the opinions of a ‘significant part of the Labour Party’ – but it is undoubtedly good news. I think that collaboration of this kind within think tanks should be encouraged. I think it’s a much better context for a rapprochement (and there is no doubt that such a rapprochement is needed) than LibDems ‘helping out’ with Labour’s policy review.

  • A Popular Front! Will the Communist Party join in?

  • Dave Warren 27th Feb '11 - 9:47am

    This group is not that influential in the Labour party in my expirience.

    I welcome the fact that they are moving in a less tribal direction but
    i won’t be joining Compass thanks very much.

  • David Wright 27th Feb '11 - 11:10am

    “As a faction within the Labour party, Compass were opposed to “New Labour” and do not deserve to be tainted by it.”

    As members of the Liberal Democrats, we opposed the increase in tuition fees (as indeed did more than half our MPs) and we do not deserve to be tainted by it. Doesn’t work like that though does it.

  • If Compass still believe that Labour is the most important party in the “progressive movement for change” then this pressure group is definitely not for me.

    Labour aligned themselves with Bush’s Republicans and wrecked civil liberties, widened the rich/poor gap, lied and lied and lied again about the war, expenses, opposition candidates etc…

    There’s simply no justification for that statement whatsoever, and even though membership has been derestricted, a bias towards such a rotten party keeps me away.

  • I think people should try to be less tribal – groups and individuals within parties who support some of the things we support should be welcomed, not slammed for belonging to another party. I would imagine a fair number of broadly Compass aligned Labour supporters / members would have voted for the Lib Dems tactically with some enthusiasm as we espoused some ofthe same goals. Some of them will be desperately disappointed in aspects of our direction post election.

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