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.
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.