Monday, September 21, 2009

Losing their compass

I don't always agree with him, but Luke is quite right to be annoyed that Compass are getting the leader of the Green Party to speak at a major event they are organising in Brighton, where the Greens are trying to beat the (very good) Labour candidate, Nancy Platts.

I've got no problem with holding events where other political parties speak and discuss ideas, but it is a bit much when a supposedly Labour group starts helping other politicians against Labour, particularly when the most likely result is to let the Tories win.


At 7:24 am , Blogger James said...

The "let the Tories in" thing is spurious. We were told the same before the most recent Brighton and Hove local byelection in Goldsmid.

Result? Greens beat the Tories, with Labour in third. That's partly because even former Labour councillors backed the Green candidate.

That wasn't even in Pavilion, the best bit for the Greens, and I think the General Election will see a similar result.

At 8:01 am , Blogger Dave Semple said...

Have to say Don, I agree with James.

Also, having looked at Nancy Platts, the Labour PPC for Brighton Pavilion, I'm pretty sure that Caroline Lucas would be more left-wing and a better parliamentary representative. Platts seems a tad vacuous.

I hope that the Tories won't claim the seat - but we can't hold the Greens responsible for Tory victories forever. We surely have to recognize (especially since a considerable number of former Labour members have joined them) that the fault belongs to New Labour.

Better to direct our common ire that way.

At 8:23 am , Blogger Sunder Katwala said...

I am sceptical about this argument. The party conference fringe seems to me to exist in a political bubble/parallel universe from the local area in which it takes place, and I am not sure that I see how a Compass event would impact on the constituency election. If the objection is to speakers from different parties being invited at all, that is one thing (with which I disagree) but I don't see anything dangerous and disloyal about this.

Full disclosure: Lucas is also speaking at a Fabian event. This is a Fabian/Observer Question Time, involving Gaby Hinsliff, Ed Balls, me, Caroline Flint, Iain Dale, so perhaps that is a tiny bit different from a "rally" is that is thought to imply endorsement, but I am sceptical about the idea that either event could be worth five votes to the Green Party at the General Election.

At 8:43 am , Blogger donpaskini said...

I think there is a difference between a Question Time style event with panellists from all parties, and a rally which is effectively an endorsement by a Labour soft left pressure group of the Green candidate.

I appreciate it is not huge numbers of people who would be influenced, but it fits the Green Party's narrative (as James points out) to be able to point to a local example of Labour people backing the Green candidate.

Compass aspires to have a major say about the future of the Labour Party - it doesn't help when they seem more interested in what's best for Compass than what is best for Labour.

At 8:54 am , Blogger James said...

Don, as a Green who voted Labour in 1992, my genuine view is that it's in Labour's best interests to worry about the Greens coming up on the rails.

Comres earlier this month showed that more ex-Labour voters now plan to vote Green than Tory. (shameless link to my blog)

Sunder's right, though, these events are rarely attended by swing voters.

At 10:08 am , Blogger Nick said...

"Comres earlier this month showed that more ex-Labour voters now plan to vote Green than Tory"

No it doesn't - of the sub-sample of 2005 Labour voters, 55% are sticking with Labour, 11% are planning to voting Lib Dem, 10% Tory and only 6% Green.

And even then, the individual sub-samples won't be demographically weighted and are so small that the margin of error would be huge. You need to look across several polls to draw even tentative conclusions based on sub-samples of that size.

Still, I'm not aware of any poll showing more 2005 Labour voters voting Green than Tory. Most recent poll from ICM this week shows 2% of 2005 Labour voters going to the Greens vs 13% Tory and 8% LD.

Ironically, Nancy Platts has pretty much Compass-ite politics within the Labour party, I think she's even a Compass member...

At 1:17 pm , Anonymous tim f said...

I don't agree with what they've done here, but Compass can rectify this by directing members to go out canvassing for the Labour candidate during conference - or perhaps holding a short 15-minute telephone canvass session for her in the middle of their rally. They could easily pass out phones & call-lists and restart in quarter of an hour. That'd almost certainly have a greater positive effect than the negative effect of implied endorsement.

I think the Fabian event is less bad than the Compass one, but I think it's wrong too. Groups affiliated to Labour should have more sense than to give an opposition candidate a platform in the seat where she's standing. I'm sure you could've gotten another Green, Sunder. The effect might be minimal but any effect, however small, was avoidable.


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