Brown Loses Compass, Neal Lawson Calls for Him to Go

Neal Lawson runs Compass which is the liveliest of Labour’s soft-left factional campaigning organisations. He is a prickly character, some will attribute his knifing of Gordon today (Indy) to a mixture of disappointment and perhaps irritation that post-Blair he has neither been listened to, nor given any preferment by Gordon. He might not have taken up a position in Gordon’s big tent, but it would have been nice to have been asked…

Compass was a strategic part of the “coalition of the willing” to unseat Blair, so Lawson should accept some of the responsibility for saddling Labour with Brown. The month after Brown took office Lawson wrote a piece for the Guardian gushing like a school girl:

The skilfully engineered bounce witnessed in the first days of Gordon Brown’s premiership could be turned into something more: a political earthquake. The time is ripe not just for a better Labour government but for a shift in the centre of gravity of politics decisively to the left. Brown could be the first Labour leader since Clement Attlee to recast British society – not by taking small steps but giant leaps. This is why. Once in every generation a political revolution takes place in which thinking and behaviour shifts not just by degrees but qualitatively. It happened in 1945 under Labour, as the experience of the war and the economic depression before it heralded the centralised welfare state.

He concluded his paean with a quote from the left-wing theorist Gramsci: “The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions, without becoming disillusioned.” Well today he has himself failed Gramsci’s challenge, his disillusionment is total. He complains that since Gordon funked calling an election in October he has been an “unmitigated disaster”. Gordon’s “responses have been both wrong and weak” or merely “dog whistle policies”. How hard it must be for Lawson and his Compass followers, who connived with the Brownies so long to make life difficult for Blair, to see left-wing hopes crushed as Labour now campaigns on an authoritarian agenda, promising British jobs for British workers, attacking the Tories for being soft on foreigners and ID cards so soon after publicly taking tea with Mrs Thatcher. Gordon is now reviled both by the vindicated Blairites and the disillusioned left. The worry for the Tories must be that the factions might just unite to dispatch Brown early…



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