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I finally got around to reading Simon Titley‘s article in the latest Liberator about Lib Dem “Maoists” and “Trotskyists” (his argument is that there are two mindsets within the Lib Dems that are roughly analagous to two Marxist factions: Maoists for whom campaigning has become an end in itself and Trotskyists who seek to cause a purifying revolution by engineering splits and adopting a fundamentalist approach to liberalism). It is absolutely spot on; Liberator and/or Simon should do us all a favour and make the article more widely available.

I was particularly tickled by the idea of (the now departed?) Liberal Future being the Trotskyists. I’ve been saying that for years. Simon misses a point here though: a common tactic of Trotskyists is to jump on every passing bandwagon and claim it for their own (hence: student politics, the Anti-Nazi League, Stop the War, all strikes, all asylum extradition case, etc.).

So it is that Mark Oaten, formally one of the most stringent supporters of the Lib Dems forming a permanent coalition with our “social democrat” partners in Labour, suddenly reemerged in 1999 as the defender of the liberalism flame when he founded LF. And at the same time he felt comfortable being the President of the Peel Group, which ostensibly exists to convince people that the Liberal Democrats are the true inheritors of One Nation Conservativism.

It isn’t just Mark; compare the personel of LF, the Peel Group, the Pro-Euro Conservatives and the Yes Campaign and you’ll find a remarkable number of the same names crop up.

I shouldn’t be too churlish about the Trots though; at least I know where they stand. It is the Maoist tendency that is the real problem the Lib Dems need to sort out now. The party needs to rediscover the ideological roots behind community politics (on which note, every Lib Dem should read this); as of 2005 we are about as far from them as we ever have been.

4 thoughts on “Revolutionaries

  1. Completely agree about the need to reinvigorate our community campaigning. In too many areas, Focus has stopped having any sense of dialogue or doing much to help people have more say other their lives.

    We also need to think more deeply about new non-geographically-based communities that are emerging especially via the internet since most of the ‘Theory and Practice of Community Politics’ assumes a geographically-based community. It is now hugely easier to create functioning non-geographic communities of interest than ever before – and we haven’t done enough to reflect this.


  2. Martin – agreed on the non-geographically-based communities. Constituency parties will often put off as many people as they pull in (even if they manage to do that in the first place) becasue people seek groups of people “like them”. Consequently if a local party is dominated by a particular viewpoint, age range, etc, only the most hardy will not think “this is not for me” and will be lost to the party.

    Part of the solution is to set up geographical networks based on localitities but not constituencies; a “cluster” perhaps round a city or part of a county so that like-minded types can meet in the real world as well as the virtual world.

  3. Thanks for the plug for my article.

    Liberator issue 305 (in which the article appears) will be available on the Liberator website from 28th October. Which is about the same time that Liberator issue 306 will be landing on subscribers’ doormats.

    If you want to read Liberator when it’s hot off the press, you should subscribe!

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