I don’t have much time for what Liberal Left seeks to do. It goes completely in the face of the pluralistic principles of Liberal Democrats. It’s almost as if they don’t want to see Liberal Democrat policies being written onto the statue book. For that reason, I didn’t attend their launch – plus I needed food. From what I heard, they were quite a few people trolling them and Lembit just sat there reading his new book, The Alternative View. I was half tempted to sit there and reading the Orange Book.
Liberal Reform, however, has been construed as the rising of the ‘right wing’ Orange Booker wing of the party. A lot of untruths have been going round about their reception, like it being funded by BUPA or some such nonsense. As one MP said to me, he was glad something like this had been set up.
But it begs the question: are factions a good thing? They certainly help generate policy from different areas rather than just FPC, but also make conferences a bit more interesting with showdowns on the Conference floor. However, do we want to have a party in the same state as Thatcherite vs. Wets or Blairites vs. Brownites. I don’t think, from the feeling at Conference, it will happen that way anyway. For example, most people are members of Social Liberal Forum (because it was free) and I’m also a member of Liberal Reform.
The true test of whether the party is going to split into differing factions will be at Autumn Conference in Brighton. There we shall see what happens in that sunny seaside town in September…