The news that a new pressure group has been formed within the Liberal Democrats has been 'welcomed' with a surprising level of hostility from a number of my colleagues. Obviously, there will be those who might expect me to be equally dismissive. After all, I'm generally loyal to the Party, and at least tolerant of its leadership.
And yet, I find myself wondering what the fuss is all about. It is, when all is said and done, the right of any group of Liberal Democrats to organise as they please, within the confines of the Constitution and the Membership Rules.
But what puzzles me more is that, as I recall, we talk a good game about pluralism. And, in a pluralist society, one accepts that individuals and groups have a right to take a contrarian view. It can be argued that the Coalition has been bad for the Party - indeed, polls by Liberal Democrat Voice indicate a consistent stance that the Coalition will be bad for the Party in at least the medium term.
So, for those who have been so negative about Liberal Left, a question. If, after the next General Election, we are offered a choice between Labour and the Conservatives as dancing partners, are you ruling out Labour now? And if so, why?
* Apparently, Mao never said this. The Chinese Communist Party did use the slogan "Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.". But it's still a good line...