Compass Conference

by Harry on October 6, 2004

Compass is a new organisation that has emerged out of what could perhaps best be termed the thoughtful ex-Blairite left. It’s closely connected with the magazine Renewal. Its first national conference is coming up, with speakers like Polly Toynbee, Ruth Lister, Stuart White, Michael Meacher and Gordon Brown. Looks well worth going to, for those of you who don’t live thousands of miles from London.



Peter Briffa 10.06.04 at 1:59 pm

Damn! I’m busy that weekend.


Dan Hardie 10.06.04 at 7:05 pm

‘thoughtful ex-Blairite left….Michael Meacher…’

No, I don’t think so. Not unless ‘thoughtful’ means ‘dementedly spouting US-Govt-staged-9/11-theories cribbed from tinfoil-hat websites’.


harry 10.06.04 at 7:41 pm

Dan – come on, re-read it (my post, not Meacher’s collection of speeches).


Dan Hardie 10.06.04 at 8:02 pm

Harry, I have re-read it and I don’t see that there’s anything I’m missing. I would be interested in any conference of the thoughtful non-Blairite left, but Meacher is merely ‘non-Blairite’ and ‘left’. Frankly, he is barking, so if Compass think that he’s a good speaker for their inaugural get-together, that is not the best sign.


harry 10.06.04 at 9:07 pm

I called them thoughful, not the platform of speakers. Some are excellent, between them they’ll be very interesting. I have never attended a conference without some completely nutty speakers. Have you? :)
(including, emphatically, academic conferences). Actually, this could be a really good party game. Well… maybe for some people…

BTW, if a conference of the left contained only speakers with whom I had no major disagreements it would be a) tiny and b) not worth going to. But that’s just me.


John Quiggin 10.06.04 at 9:15 pm

Thanks for this info Harry. Compass looks to be well worth reading.


Dan Hardie 10.06.04 at 9:30 pm

No, any conference (or discussion, or seminar)which ‘contained only speakers with whom I had no major disagreements’ would indeed be worthless. It’s just that Meacher is so utterly bonkers that I wonder what they’re doing inviting him. Sample Meacher phrase re 9/11: ‘ Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority?’ From this article:,12956,1036687,00.html

This isn’t a Melanie Phillips style ‘moral decay of the left’ rant on my part; just a feeling that an organisation which thinks Meacher is anything other than a clown without facepaint is not a very serious outfit.


harry 10.08.04 at 2:10 am

Well, I’m not going to get into a long defence of Meacher. I had vaguely heard of the column you pointed to at the time, but didn’t look at it, and agree that the particular part you refer to is loopy, and dramatcially overgenerous (as conspiracy theories tend to be) regarding the competence of the authorities. But I don’t think that disqualifies him from being interesting and worth hearing on his actual areas of expertise (any more than Chomsky’s and Hitchens’ complete wierdness about international politics would stop me wanting to read their work on linguistics and literature respectively). And Meacher continues to speak, regularly, at conferences across the gamut of center-left and left(ish) organisations in the UK. Compass just is a thoughtful and interesting organisation, and if you don’t like Meacher you should try Crouch, or White, or Kelly, or Toynbee.

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