The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009


10:30 am - December 30th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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2009 was the year that left-wing campaign groups independent of the Labour party found their voice and found the Internet.

There have been notable successes for the left blogosphere but in this I want to highlight and point to the top left campaign groups that have made a mark and will continue to grab the limelight in 2010.

Compass
2009 was the year that Compass threw off its shackles as an exclusively Labour-left group and embraced the idea of positioning itself as a broader, more plural left-wing pressure group. As Gordon Brown failed to live up to their expectations, Neal Lawson realised that trying to work just within the party and push from the left was useless when most people on the left were abandoning New Labour in droves.

The Left is much bigger than Labour and that is where Compass want & need to be. They got some stick for inviting Caroline Lucas to the conference rally but I think it was an important watershed.

Compass did well to tap into the anger over bankers bonuses and I hope they continue to develop left wing populism in 2010. They were the most high-profile left-wing campaign group of 2009.
(disclosure: I’m a member but didn’t part in any of the re-positioning discussions)

Stop Climate Chaos Coalition
The SCC Coalition organised the biggest rally ever for the environment recently with The Wave. The coalition includes charities from Christian Aid, Oxfam, Greenpeace and WWF to CAFOD and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

The Wave was a tremendous achievement and has made environmental politics a serious force in the UK. It is likely SCCC will continue to make high-profile interventions in 2010.

Hope Not Hate
Searchlight Magazine’s Nick Lowles has done an admirable job to re-fashion the magazine for an internet generation.

Using techniques and technology that powered the Obama campaign – HNH have used anger against the far-right’s rise to build up a formidable email list and online campaigning tool / information repository to tackle the far-right in the UK.

Their website is full of useful information, news of the BNP’s internal wranglings, and info on other extremist groups. More importantly, the email list is being built up by responding to BNP related events, but with the aim of involving those people into local community organising and politics.

Their ultimate aim is to use the email list to help people get involved in local politics and defeat extremism through engaging people on street level. Around election time there’s a good chance local union organisations will want to tap into that list. Though not high-profile, they have done an excellent job in quietly building a formidable email list.

38 Degrees
Launching in May this year, 38 Degrees have worked hard to jump on every campaign possible and quickly build a big campaigning email list. Their initial campaign to push for a law to recall MPs looks to be successful and they’ve pushed hard to make noise and raise their profile.

Part of that has meant jumping on perhaps too many campaigns simply so people could be encouraged to sign a petition. My advice would be to focus on a few high-profile campaigns and figure out how to make an impact other than simply offer an internet petition.

The webchat with Ed Miliband marked a high point, and now they need to put their thinking caps on so people feel they’re doing more than just presenting a petition. Their email list is looking formidable so there is plenty of scope to make some noise in 2010.

Climate Rush
These eco-campaigners have done well in positioning themselves as modern suffragettes and have managed a few high-profile stunts this year to raise awareness of green issues. They are media savvy and gaining lots of name recognition, fast. Expect a lot more high-profile stunts in 2010 as they fight for environmental justice.

Scrutinising Police Powers
The G20 riots spawned a number of small web-based groups looking at challenging growing police powers. Defend Peaceful Protest is self-explanatory and its founder has kept up a diligent scrutiny of whether the Met Police learnt anything from the G20 debacle.

There is also FIT Watch, Police State UK, blogs like OurKingdom, voices at Indymedia and heavyweights such as Liberty and BIHR – all interested curbing excessive powers bestowed to the police.

The pushback after G20 forced the police and the generally sympathetic media on the defensive. With the Tories coming in this issue will become even more relevant.

My suggestion is that some of the smaller groups should get together to launch a formal NGO dedicated to scrutinising excessive police powers, encourage people to help by submitting FOIs and collating information. We need a more concerted effort on this front from the Left.

Anyone missing?
I think the Other TaxPayers Alliance deserves an honourable mention. It has certainly made an impact on the blogosphere, but now needs to think more about impacting the media directly.

If you think I got it wrong or missed some org that deserves a mention, do let me know below.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Crime ,Environment ,Think-tanks

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Reader comments


Interesting thoughts Sunny. I think Climate Camp and London Citizens (which I wrote about here http://bit.ly/7l95Uh ) two of the most creative and effective campaigns on the left, deserve to be on the list. I know it’s a cliche but 2009 has also been the year in which Twitter has made waves with short spontaneous campaigns like Trafigura and Jan Moir, and I’ve seen Facebook used effectively to harness anger and co-ordinate action around certain issues like the G20 or the DigiConBill. Hopefully 2010 will be the year established campaigns become more imaginative in linking to these short term mobilisations and that campaigners on the left stop competing with each other,and actively seeking to undermine each other, and start recognising their shared interest (one can always hope!).

2. Alisdair Cameron

Hmm. Not sure Compass ought really to be in there.They now openly champion Jon Cruddas it seems as the next Labour leader but examine his voting record on the important issues of the last ten years. I doubt he genuinely represents a figure for progressive renewal, and is more (like others in Compass) trying to distance himself from the (justifiably) tainted New Labour brand. That distancing is not the same as moving to the left.

You forgot the BBC

I agree with Guy: Climate Camp have to be on there. Also maybe Biofuelwatch.
I also agree with Alisdair: Compass won’t deserve to be included on this list until they allow members of Parties other than Labour to join them. This is a crucial point, non-negotiable. Until they let the likes of me sign up, they are nothing but a better-than-average Labour faction.
Finally, you have missed off the most important runner of all, Sunny: LibCon itself…
;-)

Compass holds promise, but the left is bigger than the Labour party and Rupert and Alisdair both make important points.

2009 has also seen some good non-aligned campaigning reaching across the usual divides – ORG campaign against Phrom and new copyright laws, for example.

6. Alisdair Cameron

Spot on, Guy. This left/right axis doesn’t hold sway when a Labour government erodes civil liberties appallingly. Civil liberties camapigners tend to sit on the lefter end of that old-style spectrum, but sure as hell wouldn’t happily align with (New)Labour

7. Witless pseudo- libertarian piss-streak

“You forgot the BBC”

LOL!!!! I am LOVING that!!!! LOL!!!!!!

And keep an eye and ear out for the Morris Minor containing the middle class sound system.

Compass? This talks to something I mentioned yesterday on another thread.

The mindboggling stupidity of much of the economic populism of the left.

Last year with Compass it was a windfall tax on the oil companies. Because, y’know, at a time when oil was in short supply and thus prices high we’d like to stop people investing money in trying to find more oil.

This year it was a windfall tax on the banks. When actually we’d rather like them to be making pots and pots of profits so that they can rebuild their capital bases: firstly so that they can get lending again and secondly so that they simply have stronger capital bases. Maybe, even, horrors, to repay the taxpayer support.

It’s not that I object to the principle of a fairer, more caring and sharing world: it’s that groups like Compass seem entirely incapable of suggesting anything which would bring their desired world into being.

Thanks for the honourable mention, Sunny.

It’s up there with appearing (one place below you) on Tim Worstall’s List of Idiots – http://bit.ly/2SqctJ – for gladdening my heart this year.

11. Green Greenie

HOPI

Well, y’all will think this is a bit of a cringe, but Liberal Conspiracy ought to be there or thereabouts…..

I have enormously enjoyed posts by people like Sunny Hundal, Conor Foley and Unity. And dozens of others too.

Tim says ‘It’s not that I object to the principle of a fairer, more caring and sharing world’

You learn something every day.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    :: The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2

  2. red_eck

    SWP fails to join the Left wing Campaign Organisations of the year 2009 http://tinyurl.com/ydjdwee – no mention of UAF or STW

  3. GuyAitchison

    interesting RT @libcon: :: The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2

  4. David NP Ludlam

    interesting RT @libcon: :: The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2 (via @GuyAitchison)free of Labour at last!

  5. sunny hundal

    The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2

  6. Labour List

    RT @pickledpolitics: The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2

  7. Tweets that mention Liberal Conspiracy » The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liberal Conspiracy, red_eck. red_eck said: SWP fails to join the Left wing Campaign Organisations of the year 2009 http://tinyurl.com/ydjdwee – no mention of UAF or STW [...]

  8. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by libcon: :: The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2

  9. Compass

    RT @libcon: :: The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2

  10. Hannah McFaull

    RT @libcon The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2 Quite clearly missed @thehowardleague from the list

  11. Other TaxPayers Alli

    The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2 (Thanks for the honourable mention @libcon)

  12. Compass

    RT @libcon – The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2 – shameless i know

  13. Samuel Tarry

    RT @libcon: :: The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2

  14. Dave Lewis

    One comment suggests SWP. Haha. RT @SamTarry: RT @libcon: :: The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2

  15. Christian Aid Tweets

    Liberal Conspiracy cites #thewave as one of the 2009 campaigns that made a difference. Yay! http://bit.ly/8kHRzL

  16. Tom Allen

    RT @carbonmarch: @libcon cites #TheWave as one of the top campaigns of 2009. Yay! http://bit.ly/8kHRzL #climate

  17. Larry Oliver

    RT @carbonmarch: Liberal Conspiracy cites #thewave as one of the 2009 campaigns that made a difference. Yay! http://bit.ly/8kHRzL

  18. Stop Climate Chaos

    RT @libcon The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2

  19. TheWave

    RT @libcon The top left-wing campaign organisations of 2009 http://bit.ly/6ITbO2

  20. Stop Climate Chaos

    RT @carbonmarch: @libcon cites #TheWave as one of the top campaigns of 2009. Yay! http://bit.ly/8kHRzL #climate





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