Monday, December 14, 2009

Do You Need A Compass When You Cover Two Regions?

Dronfield falls within the East Midlands Region, but it is situated immediately to the south of the boundary of the Yorkshire and Humberside Region. It is not, therefore, surprising that the Dronfield Labour Party Discussion Group should attract both its speakers and its audience from both of these Regions.

But who should we get to addresses us about the role of Compass the Democratic Left pressure group? For Compass have convenors for both of these Regions.

Easy really, yesterday evening (at their own suggestion) we were addressed by both Steve Yemm their convenor for the East Midlands Region and Alex Sobel their convenor for Yorkshire and Humberside.

It was a fine occasion, aided by the fact that we had a room full of 20 people who were keen to participate in the discussions. We were also grateful to Christine, Caroline and Rosie Smith for providing us with a Xmas spread, which we finished off in the lounge bar after the meeting - where the discussions continued.

Steve and Alex stressed that the position of Compass was centred around its belief in the need for social equality, democratic participation and sustainable communal provisions, including environmental sustainability. It was felt that the failure of global capital had placed us at a cross roads in history. This had followed a period in which neo-liberal advances had dominated the political agenda and labour movements had mainly be forced into re-active stances. There was now a chance to adopt more positive and creative platforms in building a new economic and cultural paradigm.

Scope was seen for measures which included co-operative ownership, a high pay commission, tackling consumer values with measures such as a ban on advertising directed at children under 11 , the Tobin Tax and the return of powers to Local Government. Whilst Compass campaigned with other groups on the key issue of climate change, where so many young people recognised the great need for an environmental push.

Models were seen as arising from decades of social democratic achievements in Sweden and more recent developments in Venezuela.

As you would expect from the regulars at our discussions, this was all sound material for the dialectics of our debates. Numbers of us are also members of Compass or are aware of its activities. As a group we also made submissions to Compass on Political Education and Integrated Transport - for details of these see here and follow the links and labels they provide.

Our discussion group has also shown that it is possible to have serious political debates on a Sunday evening in a pleasant social setting. It is a recommended approach, especially if you are seeking to fashion your own compass.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This is class war – carried out by Cameron against the poor

Here is brief extract from an article by Polly Toynbee in today's Guardian that caught my eye. I know how much the Blatherers enjoy a bit of class analysis!

So far every single one of Cameron and Osborne's tax plans promote the wealth of the exceedingly wealthy. Not the middle or upper middle but the top 2%. It is astonishing that they have been so overt about it. No previous Conservative party ever sought power on the basis of promises to divert so much revenue from so many to so few. It is not class war or engaging in scare tactics to point out that Cameron and Osborne's only known tax plans gift £1.2bn to the top 2% of wealthiest estates in inheritance tax. Their marriage tax relief gifts 13 times more cash to the top than the bottom. Giving back extra tax relief on pensions of the richest gives £3.2bn to the top 1.5% of earners. Reversing Labour's 50p income rate gives £2.4bn back to the top 1%. The total sum taken from 98% of voters to donate to the top 2% is £11. 7bn. That really is class war – the rich looting everyone else.

The full article can be found here: