Come and campaign with us across Europe!

We gave you the opportunity to genuinely shape together the PES Manifesto bringing together think tanks, trade unions, community groups, MPs and MEPs and of course yourselves to submit and debate your ideas. We led delegations to the PES Council in Madrid to celebrate the launch of the Manifesto itself and then to Brussels to meet a range of social democratic and youth campaigners.

We took part in the "We're all Londoners" coalition to ensure that as many EU citizens as possible voted in the London elections. We facilitated workshops at the ECOSY Summer Camp and participated in youth leader delegations to Southern Africa and Greece.

Book your place now!

If we can surprise and inspire people to help shape our manifesto, we can surprise and inspire them again to come and campaign and vote in the European elections. Which is why we organised campaign exchanges in France and Spain and we now want to invite you to come and campaign with us in Belgium, Denmark and France.

We had an amazing response from our email inviting you to the Belgian campaign exchange, with places going in just a few days and now we want to invite you to help campaign in Denmark betwen 12-17th May. Because of high demand, we only have five places available, so if you'd like to come to help campaign, just email me in under 100 words or by video, why you want to campaign to put people first in the European elections.

Noel Hatch


Do you want to turn strangers into citizens?

Did you know that there around half a million undocumented migrants in the UK? Did you know they face anxiety, distress and exploitation on a daily basis? Did you know they want to work, integrate and play their full part in our society as ordinary citizens?

Strangers into Citizens is a campaign bringing together groups to call for the Government to put into practice now an "earned amnesty". This would mean those who have been here for four or more years would be allowed to work legally in return for leave to remain. They would be given two years to demonstrate their knowledge of English and contribute to the economy & society - and if successful would be granted full legal rights.

Come and join us at the rally next Bank Holiday!

Campaigns in Greece, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands have brought about similar "earned amnesty" for undocumented migrant
s and Obama himself is now calling for this too. They've pledged their support for this, what will you pledge?

Come and join us at 11.30 on Bank Holiday Monday 4th May at Tothill Street to march towards Trafalgar Square for the rally starting at midday, featuring live acts like Asian Dub Foundation and many more! Text
pledge bankholidayrally’ to 60022 to let us know you're coming!

Forward this email to five of your friends to invite them to the rally too!


No turning back to housing boom and bust!

Do you want campaign with us for "homes for people"?

Come and join us this Tuesday 21st April between 6-7.30pm in Committee Room 16 in the House of Commons.

Take part in the debate with Adam Sampson (Shelter); Frances O'Grady (TUC); Toby Lloyd; Nicky Gavron AM; Heather Wakefield (Unison), Jon Cruddas MP and Neal Lawson (chair).

Over half of places have already gone for this event so if you'd like to attend register now.

To register email 'housing' to

Follow the debate on #homesforpeople on twitter


We are living in uncertain times. The global economic crisis that has come to fruition over the past year has created a long overdue debate on politics and economics in Britain. For decades, we have relied on a political narrative driven by reliance and trust on markets; and a belief that markets will self regulate to create a more equitable society. Up until recently there was a general acceptance in the mainstream media, amongst politicians and from the general public that the City looks after the markets and we get on with our daily lives.

The current situation we face however means we can no longer continue to operate in such a way- the “elephant in the room” has fixed itself so firmly in front of the television that we can no longer resist asking it to get out the way.

However, amidst the gloomy headlines and alarming unemployment figures, we are presented with a new space in which to open debates about a better future for our society.

‘Socialism has failed. Now capitalism is bankrupt. So what comes next?’ This was the headline of a recent comment article from the Guardian. This question is central to the debate that has dominated the columns of articles and blogs over the past weeks and months. What is the guiding idea from which to unite for a better Britain? The crisis we face is so great, the challenge so difficult, the opportunity for the youth of Britain to do nothing is however, inevitably, so easy.

In his article (referred to above) author Eric Hobsbawm argues of the need for a progressive policy for action for Britain; one that addresses the needs of people and not the markets. He identifies a central hypothesis, that is, we do not know what the solution is for a better future for Britain. The problem is clear- we live in a society that negates the need of people and that favours consumerism, dumbed down versions of reality- delivered in overdoses of fly-on-the-wall documentaries- and a desire for aesthetically reassuring behaviours.

Access to health care, education, employment and social prosperity are issues at the fringes of everyday discussions at a time when they must be placed at the centre.

‘The test of a progressive policy’, writes Hobsbawm, ‘is not private but public, not just rising income and consumption for individuals, but widening the opportunities and what Amartya Sen calls the “capabilities” of all through collective action’.

If we are to develop ideas for a progressive guiding vision from Britain, we must ask the questions that will enable us to realise our capabilities. We must ask the questions that government “can’t” with a general election looming on tax, on reforming global governance and on regulating an out of control global financial sector. There are signs that a narrative is developing on an international stage following the principles agreed upon at the G20 summit. But principles are little else without the leadership and guidance from which realise that a more equitable society is a destination to which we can arrive, should we choose to demand it.

Compass Youth- A space in which to create a vision for a new future for Britain?

Over the past few years, Compass has demonstrated examples of visionary leadership in calling for a renewed debate on a mixed economy- an economy that is inherently political. Compass Youth offers a space for progressively minded individuals, the next generation of political leadership, to explore ideas about a future Britain that puts people and their capabilities at the heart of government. At this time, the risk for the youth of Britain of doing nothing, comes at a high price, yet the hardest thing we can do, is to do something. But what is that something?

British society is increasingly shaped by a culture of consumerism and a focus on the individual over that of society. Society blames central government for the negative interferences in our lives- whether this be youths causing anti-social behaviour or the poor interest accumulating on our savings. And rightly so in some respects. However, the ease at which we point the blame, sometimes sits uncomfortably in a vacuum of leadership and a better vision.

That one man can bring so much hope, inspiration and generate individual leadership in the United States demonstrates clearly that we all have our role to play in shaping positive change within our societies. Compass Youth offers us a forum in which to challenge ourselves and our ideas and to overcome the most difficult challenge of all- to do something.

There is no guiding idea- no one big idea- from which to advocate but upon the foundations of a socially progressive movement of democratic socialism; we must now begin to ask the big questions:

  • Why are we not talking about higher levels of taxation for those earning obscene amounts? This is not as much a political question as it is a question on moral obligations;
  • Why does Britain not galvanise its sense society and with this increased levels of responsibility for neighbours and fellow citizens?;
  • How can the ideas of a more equitable progressive policy agenda be transferred to an election winning manifesto?
Compass Youth does not hold all the answers. However, perhaps it does offer an arena and a platform from which to springboard ideas and leadership credentials, for those willing to stand up and speak out?

Adam McNicholas, check out my blog at

Thanks to TobanBlank for the photo published under Creative Commons Licence


Although much of the media and politics saw the recent "No Turning Back" initiative as liblabbery, most of the people that took part in the event of the same name actually interpreted it in a much more vivid sense, so we can work together to attack the recession.

Coping with the crisis

People were calling for campaigners to make the link between policy and how people are experiencing the crisis. We recently launched an initiative for young activists to tell us their stories of how they got involved in campaign and what being "born free and equal" meant to them. How about using a similar approach to encourage young people to share their stories of how they're coping through the crisis? These could be stories people submit directly to us, or it could be stories that people have put up on their own blogs. In fact why not do it face to face in the form of a listening campaign? By geo-locating the stories, we could then target what people could do together in their local areas?

Ann Pettifor, executive director of Advocacy International and inspiration behind the Jubilee 2000 Debt campaign (the successful equivalent of Make Poverty History), kicked us off by arguing that getting people to work together wasn't the only challenge of building coalitions, it was to keep them working together. This rings bells as after the Put People First rally, as I was walking down Park Lane to find refuge from the pouring rain, I wondered why there was no next steps for us activists to take. Invading the Channel Islands to close down tax havens here may have split the "Stop the War" coalition but at least asking to do something would have been better than nothing.

Neal Lawson pointed out that we've been running up the downwards escalator of equality for 10 years, no wonder people are so exhausted and stressed out...and what a waste of electricity...

He followed up with the more serious need to talk about the economics behind all of this into simple language as most people think that "quantitative easing" is what the hubby of the home sec gets up to when she's out of the house.

John Harris looked back through the rear view mirror of conventions (I guess something only journalists have the magic skills to do) and dreamed of making McDonalds a co-op and mutualising Tescos. I wondered whether staff with their new found powers would still want to serve unhealthy super size me food? Continuing down the route of analogies, John then wondered what kind of choice voters have got on the electoral menu between the "political one arm bandits" Mandelson, Clegg or Osbourne?

We can't just keep trying to get people to join Labour and the best they get after a session of procedures is getting a motion passed that will be ignored, like the "4th option on council housing" has been four times in a row at party conference. When you look at the No Turning Back statement, out of the 10 Compass ideas, six are from the Lib Dem manifesto, nine from the Green Party and zilch from the Labour Manifesto. People may then start to ask, so now who do we vote for?

Instead we need to broad-based and hard-edged to win our demands. Someone pointed out that even though New Labour was created by five people and they changed the world, Compass needs to keep building up its troops? I wonder whether Compass operates more as a mix between "Dad's Army", the "Foreign Legion" and "MI5"?

If you want to continue the conversation, just follow #noturningback on twitter or the blogs.
Thanks to nolnet for the Lego photo published under Creative Commons license.


Today your European party – the European Liberal Democrats – will launch its European election campaign. One of its priorities for the elections worries us. It says “The single market should be reinforced and extended in energy, postal services, railways and health care”.

We are writing to ask you a question, and give you a challenge. Our question is: how do you propose to use the single market to ensure these services remain high-quality, affordable and accessible to all? We warn you: tread carefully, much more carefully than you have in the past. Our challenge to you is to make an unambiguous commitment to protect public services.

Heath care is a public service. Our priority must be to ensure that everyone has access to good quality health care where they live, regardless of ability to pay. This is a fundamental principle: market forces must never be the master of health services. The European Parliament has recently been discussing ‘cross-border health care’: plans to give citizens a right to medical treatment in other EU countries, paid for by their government. While Liberal MEPs have been arguing for an open market for health care without regard for the implications, we Socialists have been working hard to make sure that a privilege for a few – less than 1 per cent of patients – does not undermine health care for the many. It sounds nice for a patient from Belgium to travel, let’s say, to Austria for treatment, but how much will it cost and where does the money come from ultimately - from local health services or is it the patient who will pay the difference? As so often it may be the richer patient who has the so-called free choice and the poorer patient who will not.

We ask similar questions when it comes to the European Liberals desire to extend the single market in railways and postal services. It is fine to extend the single market, but where is future investment going to come from? Rail infrastructure is not cheap and all major European rail projects are at least partly state-funded. We Socialists say that ultimately the function of railways is not to generate profits for private companies: good, affordable transport is a social and economic necessity. Look at the disastrous railway privatisation in the UK (under the Conservatives).

Postal services have already been exposed to the single market, involving substantial job losses, but no evident benefit for the consumer. With more and more local Post Office closures, perhaps the longer walk to the Post Office is good for our health! What is the advantage of another extension of the single market in postal services?

The EU is about to conclude its third energy liberalisation package. We supported that because the market has a role to play in energy supplies. But greater challenges than more liberalization lie ahead. Has the single market improved security of energy supplies, helped the transition to renewable energy or improved energy efficiency? First and foremost we need a better functioning single market before anything else.

In 2006 socialists in the European Parliament secured an important victory in excluding health and social services from the infamous Services Directive. We did not have the support of most Liberal MEPs. With this stain on your voting record, can the Liberals be trusted to take care of essential public services?

The manifesto of the Party of European Socialists leaves no room for doubt, making our commitment to maintaining the integrity of public services clear “so that European competition and business rules do not run counter to citizens’ rights.” The Liberal manifesto for the European elections makes no such commitment. That’s why we are worried.

Yours faithfully,

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen

G20 OR WE20?

As I crossed the road from Euston Station - leaving the masses of commuters and travellers to join the policy wonks and campaign wizards at the aptly titled Friends Meeting House, I wondered if the people jumping on the trains really thought there was "no turning back" from the business as usual mix of work till you drop, earn till you burn society we live in.

As Neal Lawson said welcoming us to the day, "the crisis was the consequence of someone's utopia, it just wasnt ours". But do the people on the dole queue still believe in this utopia, do they even remember the ideals they once had before they got sucked into the rat race? This is why it's not just about adhoc solutions, we need to understand what went wrong. The apparent aims of the day were to focus on joint demands for the G20 and coordinate what happens next.

It's well fair...initt?

And there was enough intellectual magic to make this happen - with everyone from the trade unions ASLEF, CWU, Unite, TULO & TUC to the thinktanks Fabian Society, Global Policy Institute, IPPR via the campaigning groups Jubilee Debt, Public Interest Foundation, Compass and even international comrades Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Although there were more people praising Vince Cable than chanting "burn the bankers", everyone pretty much agreed that markets need to work for people, not people work for markets. Larry Eliott argued that if Labour was to have any chance of winning the elections, it needed a policy programme that was punchy, ambitious and well fair...initt?

If all it takes is a journo and a libdem and riding the horse of the apocalypse...

Is all it takes is a journalist and a liberal democrat to get us out of the crisis? Apparently, that's pretty much what the SDP was. In the real world, I guess we also need a blue peter style guide to (re)building the green economy, something like the "think and do" tank - the new economics foundation.

Andrew Simms, the research director for nef, warned the room that not only will we be going into ecological debt in September - probably the same time freshers start getting into debt - in 92 months we'll lose the climatic conditions under which civilisation emerged. At least Labour won't have to worry about what happens after this, as it's unlikely to be in power. Always amazing with analogies, Andrew then compared consumerist capitalism "like trying to warm your house by burning it down".

Will Hutton, chief exec of the work foundation (do we have an out of work foundation, or will that be most of the left-wing thank tanks if the Tories get into power, minus Demos who've been given the "progressive tory" marketing account) kicked off his session by flagging up "popular protests this week have never been targeted at a better time".

I can't say I could ever imagine Will riding the horse of the apocalypse with the anarchists, but maybe he was thinking of the amazing organic bread being handed out at Climate Camp. He quickly dispelled any notional solidarity with anarchism by arguing that we can't do capitalism without institutions holding people to account.

Anna Coote, head of public sector policy at nef, went even futher and asked that was most important wasn't even whether we do capitalism differently but ask ourselves what is it that we cant do without? It's building relationships rather than owning stuff, it's having our say not getting pushed around. It makes us happier and it makes us healthier.

The tragedy of the welfare state

She then went all controversial and provoked that we can't afford the NHS financially or environmentally, that the "tragedy of welfare state is not relying on human capabilities". Although I didn't quite phrase it in that sense, this is something I agree with, we focus too much on hitting our targets and cutting costs and not enough on using people's skills and wisdom.

After we went into different workshops to work out proposals on everything from the "core economy" to "counter cyclical measures", from the "reform of multilateral organisations" to the "role of the state", from "climate change" to "debt and development" via "equality". After that orgy of jargon spouted out, I wandered into the "core economy" session - which is actually far easier to understand when it basically means all those activities like raising children, caring for the sick, feeding families, building relationships and getting involved in community action.

If the right created a Patriot Act, what does the left need to create?

Following a special video message from Jayati Ghosh, we returned to share this with the crowd. Apparently what we need to ask ourselves when developing legislation is "if the right created the Patriot Act in the US to embed their stronghold, what does the left need?". Admittely, New Labour has taken that question to its natural logic and tried to get as close as possible to copying the Patriot Act, but I guess it was meant to be a provocation not a suggestion.

Anyway, it was interesting how the "tobin tax" and the "maximum working week" came back again and again.

Playing away from home

Other policies started off at the local, like empowering people to make demands to their councils (like London Citizens do), enabling councils to raise funds to respond to the green stimulus (like in Sheffield) and accounting for the core economy (like SROI), then went national, like introducing land value tax and then just went global, calling for a debt wipeout for the developing countries, double majority voting in global institutions.

Then it was all about how to use the evidence to campaign using Compass' secret ingredient - "insider/outsider" (and I don't mean in a RedRag/LabourList way). Up next was Kate Pickett, co-author of the Spirit Level, which I would recommend anyone who thinks campaigning for equality is still all motherhood and apple pie. She sees statistics like a social microscope and in her research what she and Richard Wilkinson found is that a more equal society is happier, healthier, more trusting and...they recycle more...

Burst the Westminster bubble

Then "our man on the inside" Jon Cruddas gave a few hints about what the atmosphere in Westminster was like, with all the internal divisions within the parties, between the third way or the highway New Labour and the social democratic left, between the Orange Book liberals and the social liberals and between the "red Tories" and the Tories. If there was a 3 a side competition, would we have Purnell, Clegg and Osbourne (with Hannan as super sub) versus Cruddas, Featherstone and Lucas (with Philip Blond as sweeper?).

In a way, this just shows how we really need to burst the Westminster bubble so it can come up for fresh thinking and learn from the most innovative cross party campaigns like "hope not hate", "living wage" and the "people's bank". Compass Youth are involved in all of these!

Surf the waves of social change, don't try and recreate them

Paul Hilder, campaign director for Avaaz suggested that what this all means is that we need intermediary institutions to broker relationships betwen insiders and outsides and we need to meet more regularly where people are, more than just organising big conferences. Build a campaign from the bottom up always sounds paradoxical, because if you're building it for other people then surely that's top down? We need to go and do more outreach, look at what local organisation is going on and then work with them.

What Paul suggested was that we surf the waves of social change rather than think we have to create new waves. I guess Avaaz' way of surfing the "green new deal" "people's protest" waves was to get green hard hats down to the protesters at the Put People First rally. It's less about coalition building and more about swarming together on key issues.

Apart from surfing Avaaz' own waves and mixing up the green hard hats and our blazing red banner at the G20 rallies, what moments can Compass Youth identify and then how can we swarm, swarm, swarm?

Noel Hatch

If you want to continue the conversation, just follow #noturningback or #we20 on twitter or the blogs.

Thanks to Lutastic and RachelBlue for the photos published here under Creative Commons Licence


The choice won’t be a difficult one when it comes to electing the National Chair of Young Labour at the conference on 18 April. Sam Tarry has captured the enthusiasm of a broad swathe of young people in the Labour Party clamouring for change. It is this ability to build a popular coalition of supporters which is the surest proof of his suitability to lead our movement: Sam ‘gets it’ when it comes to youth politics and we should have every faith in him as a leader.

The reasons for Sam’s success to date are not just his policies, but his character. Sam understands the frustrations felt by many young people within and outside the Labour Party: that they don’t seem to have an organisation that will mobilise them for more than door-knocking and use its influence to campaign for real social change, whether on student debt, the climate crisis or fair wages for young workers.

Labour’s youth movement has to be about more than reducing VAT on condoms. Nobody joined the party for that, noble a goal though it is. Sam has political intelligence: he understands the dynamics at play and recognises that what encourages young people to get involved in left-of-centre politics is a belief in something bigger than themselves and a desire to change society for the better.

They therefore want a party and a youth organisation that will take on the controversial issues of our time and not pander to defeatists who think the UK is just too right-wing. This could be our last chance for years to influence the government in a progressive direction; our last chance to build national campaigns around issues such as the living wage while still having real potential to impact on policy.

By now it is clear that Sam has both the popular support and necessary abilities to transform Young Labour into a campaigning organisation that really stands up for young members and makes more than just a token gesture to youth representation.

Look at the endorsements on his website. People across the country, men and women, both within and outside the Labour Party, are expressing their enthusiasm for Sam with similar descriptions: that he is an energetic leader with genuine principles; someone who is independent minded and can inspire others around him.

Of course, we should expect endorsements to be full of platitudes by friends wheeled out for public flattery. But Sam’s often high profile supporters could have chosen other words. They give us a good picture of what he is not: a policy wonk who’s studied all the focus groups and who will ultimately do whatever the central party tells him.

Sam is comfortable being left-wing and actually has principles: something that can be found in abundance in young single-issue campaigners, but is all too obviously lacking in many of those who today go down the route of party power politics (there are of course notable exceptions).
He also has a personal story which grounds these principles: his background in Dagenham where he’s seen at first hand the effects of racists trying to tear communities apart. Sam’s work fighting the BNP in East London is important, not just because it shows he has the experience necessary to lead campaigns for Young Labour, but because of what it tells us about his character: that he’s a compassionate and inspirational leader.

One of the most misinformed and damaging explanations of New Labour’s initial electoral success was that it was achieved by simply taking a ‘middle-of-the-road’ position on ‘the issues’. This does not win elections, as evidenced by the US Democrats’ losses through the first half of this decade despite being on the ‘right’ side of public opinion as far as their polls, focus groups and dispassionate strategists were concerned.

As elucidated by Drew Westen in his excellent book ‘The Political Brain’, campaigns are won and lost through appeals to people’s emotions, activating ‘gut feelings’ in ways that get voters thinking “this person understands me and my concerns; I trust him/her to lead”, even when they may not see eye-to-eye in terms of detailed policy. Sam ‘gets’ this in a way that too many in the Labour hierarchy have been blind to see.

I hope Sam has an opportunity to project his political intelligence with a speech this Saturday in Gillingham. Should he win the support of the conference, this will undoubtedly reflect a desire in Labour’s youth movement for a Young Labour that punches above its weight and jumps into the policy and campaigning field. It will also present a new opportunity to rejuvenate the Labour Party.

By Luke Pearce – Battersea CLP Youth & Student Officer, London Young Labour Executive


Did you know that over 15 times as much money is lost through tax avoidance at the top than is lost to benefit fraud at the bottom? That's £15BN of public money lost to a powerful elite who can afford to pay tax advisers!

Compass, The Fabian Society, The Other Tax Payers Alliance and the Tax Justice Network UK have organised a major rally to call for greater tax justice in the 2009 Budget.

So come and join us next Wednesday 15 April between 6-7.30pm at the
TUC Council Chamber (Great Russell Street). Come and hold to account the Treasury Minister, Angela Eagle MP and debate with Richard Murphy of Tax Justice Network UK and G20 Voice blogger, Kate Green of Child Poverty Action Group; Adam Lent of the TUC; Tim Horton, The Fabian Society and Jon Cruddas MP. To register email ‘tax’ to:

What will you pledge?

1. Register for the rally


Compass Points to the future!

We have just launched our newsletter Compass Points. With a welcome from the Chair, an article on letting us be the change, a call to do something about it, an exclusive guide to irresponsible and ignorant environmental policy making as well as cartoons and quotes. Want to know more, just see below!

Compass Points


Please enter your email address below to receive our emails and newsletters:


After the amazing success of our workshop with Progressive London where you told us what you wanted to improve young people's lives in London, we know want to tell you about an exciting activity where you can put together creative campaigns for London, as we always listen out to the pulse of the Compass Youth membership. As Laurie Penny says

"We may not have the kind of arts you want us to have, but this generation is creating more art, more music, writing, performance and brilliant new ideas than ever before, most of it cooked up with pirated equipment in the privacy of our own bedrooms and disseminated over the internet....We are creating. What most of us want now is a chance to combine creativity with real social progress, a chance to turn our imaginative brilliance to dreaming up a new world for ourselves, where our arts and our ideals have real relevance."

This is why we are working with Toynbee Hall in their "Creative Campaigns Day" taking place on Monday 6th April.

Aged 16-25? Your chance to get vocal about issues that you care about!

Create a campaign in either film, music, theatre, photography or spoken word with the help of industry professionals.

Explore future campaigning opportunities with organisations. Perform your campaigns in an evening showcase.

To find out more or register send an email to or call Ffiona on 07828 696 759.

Compass Youth will be exhibiting its campaigns so come and join us and Toynbee Hall's Active Citizenship programme!

"It is projects like “Pin The Pits” and projects which Compass Youth seek to actively support and promote that can bring people like us together, each with their own political voice, to listen and to be heard, like with the “Pin The Pits” campaign which united people under one roof, in the very place where to be heard, there is every hope of real change, where politics, expression and opinion have so much power in this country, where dreams can become real and change can become possible."
What will you pledge?

I will take part in the Creative Campaigns Day (contact

I will showcase my campaign with Compass Youth (contact

I will sign up to Compass Youth e-updates to get involved in more of these activities