Neal Lawson

Neal Lawson (born 1963) is a British political commentator and organiser.


Lawson was born in and brought up in the 1960s and '70s in Bexleyheath, South East London. He became interested in politics through his father, who was a printer in Fleet Street, and joined the Labour Party at 16. After attending BETHS Secondary School and Bexley College, he graduated from Nottingham Polytechnic (now Nottingham Trent University), before working for the Transport and General Workers Union in Bristol and, in the mid-late 1980s, with Gordon Brown helping to write speeches.[1]

He then went to work for the late Lord Bell at Lowe Bell Political before helping found LLM Communications in 1997. He helped set up Compass in 2003, and left LLM in 2004 to focus full time on this work. He now serves as executive director.[2]

Compass is a platform for a good society; one that is much more equal, green and democratic.[3] It has campaigned on issues such as high pay (helping form the High Pay Centre),[4] and against loan sharking.[5] It now runs a major campaign for a Universal Basic Income.[6] At the 2017 general election Compass helped form the Progressive Alliance[7] and continues to work across all progressive parties and movements. Compass adopts a theory of transition to a good society called 45° Change, based on a report Lawson wrote in 2019.[8]

He writes for The Guardian,[9] the New Statesman[10] and OpenDemocracy[11] about equality, democracy and the future of the left, and appears on TV and radio as a political commentator. He was the author of All Consuming (Penguin, 2009),[12] which analysed the social cost of consumerism. Lawson's writing has been heavily influenced by the late Polish Marxist sociologist Zygmunt Bauman.

Lawson is also managing editor of the quarterly progressive policy journal Renewal.[13] Renewal was previously the journal of the Labour Coordinating Committee, which was wound up in 1998 and briefly replaced by the Labour Renewal Network. He co-edited The Progressive Century (Palgrave, 2001).[14] He is on the Board of the Citizens Basic Income Trust[15] and is a Commissioner on the WBG Commission on a Gender Equal Economy.[16]

Lawson has been described by Zygmunt Bauman as “one of the most insightful and inventive minds on the British political stage”,[17] in the Guardian as “the most optimistic commentator in western Europe”[18] and as the “Eeyore of the left” in the Sunday Times.[19]

Lawson is part-time consultant at progressive communicators Jericho Chambers where he works on a global responsible tax project.[20]


  1. ^ Kimble, Jolyon. "Profile: Reclaiming the Moral Compass". Public Affairs news. Retrieved 2007-11-29.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "People". Compass. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  3. ^ "About". Compass. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  4. ^ "Never Again! Why Britain needs a High Pay Commission". Compass. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  5. ^ "End Legal Loan Sharking Mini-Toolkit". Compass. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  6. ^ "Basic Income Conversation". Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  7. ^ "All Together Now". Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  8. ^ "45º Change: Transforming Society from Below and Above". Compass. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  9. ^ "Neal Lawson | The Guardian". the Guardian. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  10. ^ "Writers". Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  11. ^ "Author Page". openDemocracy. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  12. ^ Lawson, Neal. "All Consuming". Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  13. ^ "Renewal | Neal Lawson". Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  14. ^ Lawson, N.; Sherlock, N., eds. (2001). The Progressive Century: The Future of the Centre-Left in Britain. Palgrave Macmillan UK. ISBN 978-0-333-94961-0.
  15. ^ "About the Citizen's Basic Income Trust". Citizen's Income. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  16. ^ "Neal Lawson". Womens Budget Group. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  17. ^ "Z. Baumann: The European Elections, Politics And Inequality". Social Europe. 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  18. ^ Boyle, David (2016-09-17). "Cross-party cooperation on the left? It's not as mad as it sounds | David Boyle". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  19. ^ Ivens, Martin. "We're fools, not knaves, is a hollow defence, Mr Bean". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  20. ^ "Neal Lawson". Jericho Chambers. Retrieved 2020-05-22.

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