Sunday, February 15, 2009

Jumping into the Compass-Progress Wars

I generally prefer a more consensual and comradely approach to inter party squabbles, I tend to prefer just letting them be, but I'm still a little annoyed with Luke Akehurst (who has still not offered any kind of response to me). However, I came across the blogging debut of some chap called Matthew Cain and his attack on Compass I note Tom Miller has stuck his oar in here.

I'm going to be a bit less delicate, because I've had quite enough of the vacuous James Purnell soundbites doing the rounds and to be honest I've got serious concerns that many of the policy suggestions coming out of Progress are not pragmatic, but defined more by some kind of supine middle ground ideology with a craven fear of sounding left wing.

James Purnell likes to claim "pragmatic means, progressive ends" but to me this is vacuous nonsense, there is a word for policies that aren't pragmatic, it's "crap". Any policy, left, right or centre should be designed with a view to accomplishing certain aims, that's just common sense. Progress policies seem defined less by pragmatism and more by a need to avoid anything associated with old Labour. You'll find little mention of such terms as redistribution, centralisation or state ownership in a Progress pamphlet, you'll find lots of use of words such as radical, decentralised, private sector and choice.

The thing is that often, sprinkling a little right wing ideology on a policy doesn't make it any more pragmatic. Giving certain sections of work to private sector contractors often has the difficulties with managing the new arms length relationship. The banking crisis is another example of this kind of thinking (not really specific to Progress), the government dropped the ball on regulation because of a desire to appear business friendly. A lot of those who expressed concern over what was going on in the banks did so for pragmatic reasons not just due to ideological predjudice against the moneyed classes, we're more than a little annoyed our views were not deemed "politics for grown ups".

The ultimate point I think is that Progress is nowhere near as pragmatic as it thinks it is, it does not hold the intellectual high ground and it should bloody well stop pretending that it holds the monopoly on sensible practical policies.


Matthew Cain said...

Thanks for the link.

Does Progress actually do policies? I thought it was just a forum for government ministers to connect to the party. But I haven't seen their online stuff for a while, just remember the magazine.

noel said...

The "Compass-Progress" wars are just another way for Luke to attract the attention - the real challenge Compass and many other similar groups have got is getting the Westminster village out of its bunkered, in-denial mentality and lack of forward thinking about the recession. Ironically - even for those who have always positioned themselves against "old Labour" - they have embraced 1970s statism like the nationalisation of the banks that leaves their essential structures unchanged, or they have called time on sustainability like going ahead for Heathrow expansion, like extending the claws of the database state and big brother business, or stigmatising the working class as if they were lazy, self-centred or racist. There are many of us within and outside the party who feel there can be no turning back, we need to reach out even more than we have done before to movements already campaigning for radical change, beyond tribal party lines and we need to organise together to make that change happen.

Miller 2.0 said...

Noel, not sure if any of those accurately represent Compass' position.

Watch this space on hte banks. The rest is simply the wrong way round.