The Labour Party left Compass group has just held a conference, No Turning Back, which aimed to bring together left and progressive currents to explore the scope for “a new model of pluralist politics”.  The Guardian account of the conference was also very positive.  Particularly in the degree of common ground between labour’s Compass left and the Green Party in agreeing on a core set of policies.

However, my immediate reaction is to raise a couple of queries over this as a way forward:

1. It seems to me that after 12 years of the New Labour Project, the left (inside and outside the party) is at its weakest. I suspect that most members of the party who would have worked for the kind of policies and approaches outlined here have, like myself, left long ago. Not only in reaction to what the Blair/Brown governments have done, but because the evisceration of party democracy meant that our views did not count.

2. I do not yet see much sign of a strategy emerging rather than another wish list of policies. What is the Labour Party for? Is it simply about attempting to capture the State, as it is, in order to ameliorate the worst aspects of globalised capitalism? (wouldn’t this just be to repeat the mistakes/defeats of the seventies?). If the aim is, rather, to bring about a serious shift in power away from the state and big business and towards civil society, surely this requires a coherent strategy for democracy, civil liberties and greater equality that most people (not just most party members) will actively support? The Labour Party, even before its Blairite makeover, was constituted mainly as an electoral machine to increase labour representation locally and centrally, and takes support for granted.