THE GAPING HOLE IN BROWN'S ARGUMENT AND NEW LABOUR PHILOSOPHY

As Christine Shawcroft reported in Labour Briefing Gordon Brown assured the NEC in June 'that recent setbacks are due to terrible global economic conditions not of the Government's making'. Of course there is truth in this, when citizens standard of living deteriorates they blame the government.

The New Labour philosophy which was built around neo-liberal economic policy and market mechanisms survived for ten years as property owners grew steadily richer and others towards the bottom survived on cheap credit and cheap imports. What is startling when looking back on all this was that nobody dared ask, what happens when the long boom comes to an end?

The dreadful coverage of Gordon Brown's one year anniversary in the media focuses on the election that never was and Brown's so called inability to communicate with ordinary voters. After the by election defeat the media has now shifted to turning the political coverage into a superficial debate about the vulnerability of Brown's position. This analysis vacuous at best and wholly ignores the philosophical underpinnings of the New Labour movement and the important issues we should be debating in the party, in the think tanks and the Trade Unions.

What is needed for Labour is not a 'new narrative' or a change of leader or even a cabinet reshuffle, although all this may improve Labour's rating in the polls in the short term. What is needed is for Labour to answer the fundamental question, what is the role of government?

The lesson to be learnt from Glasgow East is that people fundamentally do not accept that their standards of living, the cost to warm their homes and buy food should be determined by world economic forces, by investment decisions on Wall Street or by the cold, uncontrollable, realities of supply and demand. The post-war settlement and in particular the aim of full employment which survived until 1979 was founded upon this principle; that people are not mere commodities and the role of the government was to protect citizens from the harsh realities of the market.

So when Gordon Brown states that Labour's popularity is declining because of Britain's economic fortunes he is only part right. People do not blame the Prime Minister for high oil prices, what they cannot accept is the laissez faire attitude towards these problems. What people want, not just the lowest in society but increasingly the middle classes is protection from the market's more destructive tendencies; whether this is the vulnerability of pensions, the price of food or its disregard for environmental standards. Luckily for us on the centre left this concurs with Social Democratic thinking. This is why despite the unpopularity of the party in recent times there is a ray of hope for those on the centre left. The voters for the first time since 1979 are far to the left of the government on social and economic issues. There are also some practical measures which could be taken in the short term such as those that Jon Cruddas outlined at the Compass conference. If Labour re-aligns itself it will not just gain votes and seats but will be performing the role it was created to do, to protect the majority from the negative inevitabilities of capitalism, of boom and bust and downward pressure on wages.

Joe Cox
Compass Youth Activist

WE ARE ZCTU!

We Are ZCTU: Defend unionists on trial in Zimbabwe

As mentioned here, Compass Youth have been taking part in a youth & student leader delegation to Southern Africa organised by ACTSA. After campaigning to free Zimbabweans in the UK and celebrating Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday, we would love it if you could help us show solidarity to the Zimbabwean trade unionists Lovemore and Wellington who are currently on trial.

During our trip to Southern Africa, organised by ACTSA, we met youth leaders from Zimbabwe. At first sight, it was like being at a students conference talking about free education and student governance - wanting to be the vanguard of society, never again wanting to be in the same situation as now.

But when this was overshadowed by the arrests and torture that young activists face on an almost daily basis, I felt humbled by seeing their world through their eyes and gaining a much deeper insight into the issues surrounding Zimbabwe, such as when one comrade explained that after its independence, Zimbabwe failed to put any checks and balances on the power over its people.

It may look like we're playing on different football fields in the struggle for freedom, democracy and equality, but what links us all together is that wherever we are, history is repeated, from the oppression in South Africa in the apartheid years to that of Zimbabwe and Swaziland today. So in our 24/7 lifestyle, it may seem like a struggle to think for a moment, let alone take action in solidarity with our friends in this region - but that struggle is nothing compared to the struggle that they endure on a daily basis.

If you would like to find out more about out European and International activities click here, fill in our survey to join the network or contact compassyouth7@gmail.com.

CHILD POVERTY: KEEP THE GOVERNMENT TO THEIR PROMISE!


This is a vital moment for children in poverty. Without your support now, one of the boldest political promises, affecting the lives of millions of children will not be met.

In 1999 the Government promised to halve child poverty by 2010 and eradicate it by 2020. This was a historic pledge, aimed at tackling the UK’s appalling record on child poverty where despite being the fifth richest country in the world 3.9m children, that’s 1-in-3, live in poverty - one of the worst rates in Europe.

Initially there was good progress and 600,000 children were lifted out of poverty. However, in recent years these efforts have stalled. Now, without a £3bn investment in tax credits and benefits the target of halving child poverty by 2010 is in tremendous risk.

That’s why over 120 organisations, including children’s charities, trade unions, and faith groups, have come together as the ‘Keep the Promise’ campaign to ask you to attend the largest ever event to end child poverty in Trafalgar Square on the 4th October.

The organisations backing Keep the Promise know the daily, grinding, struggle that many families face trying to bring up their children. Children from poor homes aren’t able to participate fully at school, and take advantage of the educational opportunities available to them.

The consequences of childhood poverty aren’t something you grow out of. Children from poor backgrounds are more likely to have health problems throughout their adult life. You are 50% more likely to report having a limiting illness if you are from a deprived background. Without qualifications children can struggle to get quality jobs making them more likely to face poverty throughout their lives.

We know the damaging impact that poverty has on children’s education, health and opportunities in life. We have the opportunity to end Britain’s child poverty shame, but it means making the Government keep poor children a top priority.

This is a once in a generation chance to make a positive change to the lives of millions of children. It’s vital that you bring your friends, colleagues, and children along on the 4th October to demand that the Government’s promise is kept and that we end child poverty. The event will begin at 1pm with a short march from Millbank to Trafalgar Square where there will be children’s activities, family fun, film and speeches. This will be followed by a mass moment where everyone will be asked to make as much noise as possible so that everyone present can show their support.

Gemma Tumelty
London Child Poverty Campaigner
& Member of Compass Youth Organising Committee

Details of the campaign and of the rally on the 4th October can be found here http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/promise

COMPASS IS GOING TO THE BEACH, COME AND JOIN US IN BRIGHTON!


After a successful joint event held in London in March, we have announced a series of debates about the future of the Left in other cities including Brighton this Saturday 19 July

11-12.30 @ Brightelm Centre, North Road, Brighton (see map)

Speakers include:
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy QC
  • Neal Lawson, Chair, Compass
  • Margaret Hodge MP
  • Chris Leslie
  • Polly Toynbee, The Guardian (chair)
  • With introductory remarks by Nancy Platts, Labour PPC for Brighton Pavillion. Kindly supported by Unite
Check the Facebook event. All Compass events, unless stated, are free to attend and open to anyone, simply register by sending an email.

If you would like to find out more about out our other regional activities fill in our survey or contact compassyouth7@gmail.com.

TAKE A CAMERA, RECORD YOUR STORY, TELL THE WORLD

What are you doing this summer…?

Would you like to make a T.V show about you and your mates?

How do you and your friends support each other in dealing with your relationships?

You tell your own stories.

Take a camera. Record your story. Tell the world.

We need young people to talk about their life experiences and how they manage those tricky relationship issues.

We are working with Channel 4 to work on a TV programme called Life Proof which they want to film over the summer holidays to go on air in the autumn. We are looking for specific groups of young people and one of these is 16-19 year olds interested in politics and so I thought of you. Compass Youth is working to develop this anyway with other organisations, but this could be a good stepping stone for you to get more involved in politics.


Please see the brief outline and if you were interested, you would have the opportunity of being filmed yourself with in return recruiting other 16-19 year olds interested in politics for this project. As this is being filmed shortly, we would need to know if you wanted to do this and if other young people you knew could do this too.

CONTACT US ON 07790202469 or compassyouth7@gmail.com

If you would like to find out more about out Video & Film activities click here or Social Media click here, fill in our survey to join the network or contact compassyouth7@gmail.com.

BIRTH OF SKA

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MANDELA!

As Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday this Friday 18th July approaches, we would like to remind you of a number of ways in which you can show your support and get involved in this special day.

For those of you who are in London, we would like to invite you to give just an hour of your time for Nelson Mandela and join ACTSA at Parliament Square, to make your pledge to the "greatest and most courageous leader of our generation". The celebration will involve creating a giant South African flag, consisting of your Mandela at 90 greetings and pledges for development and in southern Africa – the event is going to be marked prestigiously throughout the country, so would be great if you could make it.

We will be convening with ACTSA at Parliament Square, London at exactly 12.30pm, this Friday, 18th July and the event will be finished by 1.30pm.

If you can join it is really important that you let us know, so please email campaigns@actsa.org

If you haven’t managed to do so yet, there’s still time to sign Mr. Mandela’s birthday card and pledge for democracy, justice and rights for southern Africa here.

Please do encourage your friends and family to sign the card too.

In addition to the above event, at 1pm on Friday 18th July we want people to stop what they are doing and spare a few moments to mark Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday. We want you, and your friends, family and colleagues to take a photo of people holding up their own personal birthday pledges for justice, rights and development for southern Africa. You can email your pictures to campaigns@actsa.org. For more information go here.

For larger groups of at least 100 people, you could take part in our giant South African flag of pledges activity, joining those in Parliament Square . Download the activity pack and the accompanying excel sheet to create labels for your participants here.

ACTSA wants to celebrate Mandela the man, the movement that he represents and some of the other great leaders that led the fight against apartheid in South Africa and really hope that you will support us in our goal. Thanks so much for your time!

If you want to find out more about our trip to South Africa, we will be running a diary, starting with the first few days here.

If you would like to find out more about out European and International activities click here, fill in our survey to join the network or contact compassyouth7@gmail.com.

It's your show!

We have just launched our personalised homepage for Compass Youth and guess what we would like you to contribute to it.

Tell us which online sites you would like us to add, in fact we want to hear from you if you've got a blog. All you need to do is send us the link and why you think we should add it and if we like your blog, we'll add it! If you think the homepage should be radically changed, if you have any modules you want us to add, we'd like to know too.


Why did we create this in the first place?

The excellent Blog Nation event that Sunny organised, the suggestion that Unity made, the pledge that Robert made, the provocations that Ali and Lee made:
  • "to get more of an unfiltered exchange of news going, simply so more people are aware of developing issues and in a position to comment on them...people are naturally inclined, in following their interests, to pick up on stories that the rest of us might well miss...generally indulging in a little shameless, and shame-free, self promotion, simply because good writing and strong issue will always find an audience...give the rest of us the material to link to and debate." (Unity)
  • "introduce one relative, friend or colleague to blogging each month. This need not mean forcing them to set up their own blog. Instead, just a gentle explanation of the power of RSS" (Robert)
  • "Dare I suggest that a future session should instead be asking “Where are all the young bloggers?”. The “MySpace Generation” should surely be like fish in water with political blogging - not able to vote, so engaging in politics online. Why, then, are there so few young bloggers? Or, if they exist, why are they ignored?" (Ali)
  • "All the cool young bloggers exist outside of London obviously" (Lee)
I would suggest a fantastic tool - the streets - can we mix up the face to face and the online? here's a suggestion.

See here for how this works!



Sunny argues "I’m sure there can be more tools to similarly take blogs forward". We've experimented with some of these, what others are out there? Apologies to Iain and Guido for not adding their blogs, but if you can convince us why we should add them, you never know...

FREE ZIMBABWEANS IN THE UK

Thousands of Zimbabweans in the UK find themselves in the dehumanising limbo of our broken asylum system. They are unable to work, unable to gain skills or use the ones they have, unable to return home and often left without any state support. They are even prevented from working as volunteers.

The future leaders of that country are being left idle, frustrated and sometimes destitute on the streets of Britain. This seems ironic given the supposed fury in the voices of our politicians condemning the current situation in Zimbabwe.

This is obviously unacceptable, the best thing our leaders could do for Zimbabwe is to allow those Zimbabweans still here to acquire the experience and the skills that will eventually be necessary to rebuild their country. We need to hold our leaders accountable for the situation they have created.



As such is organised this Friday 11th July

11:30am Meet at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey

12pm Service led by Archbishop of York, John Sentamu

1.30pm: Rally and walk to Home Office; Parliament Sq. and South Bank

Click here to find out more and here for our story on the trip we made to visit Zimbabwean youth leaders.