Following on from my blog last Friday this week I have heard the word Trotskyite all over the news and social media. Supposedly educated people have been using it as shorthand for the worst bogeyman of rampant left wing supporters of Corbyn determined to take the party and country in to oblivion. On last night’s Channel 4 news Michael Crick and Cathy Newman were goading Corbyn supporters to say on air that they were real life “trots”, which to be honest was somewhat reminiscent of McCarthyite era witch hunts. All this is part of the overall poor quality of debate that there is around the Labour party leadership hustings. People on both sides are lazily entrenching themselves in over simplistic caricatures of those they disagree with and what should be lively and enriching political debate is descending in to smears and personal attacks.
Let us look at this term Trotskyite. What does it mean? Surely you don’t need a Ph.D in philosophy to understand that the word denotes someone who follows the ideas of Leon Trotsky (1879 – 1940). Now I won’t bore you here with an online treatise as to the ideas of this important and influential political philosopher (who just for the record I don’t agree with but I am interested in what he had to say). However, at their most basic Trotsky believed in a one party state and the need for the global spread of communism. Now putting it as simply as that is that what all these people who are being called “Trots” believe in? Are all those people who are attending public rallies which Owen Smith sought to characterise as “Momentum” rallies, do you think that is what they want to see in this country?
To return to the rally I attended in Swansea last week, which was the subject of my last blog. Now I have been active in community and grass roots political organising in the South Wales area since the early 1970s. During that time I have worked alongside anarchists, evangelical Christians, socialists, Labour party members, Catholics, Jews, Communists, Liberal Democrats and many many others of various other political and philosophical persuasions (Can’t honestly think of many Tories though, but there have been a few) I might not have agreed with their religious or political persuasion but they were good people who wanted to see an improvement in society and to be honest that is good enough for me. When I attended the rally last Friday I knew many in the room and had known them for many years. They were teachers, social workers, nurses, the unemployed, community development workers, the sick, office workers, steel workers, miners and business people. Over the years some of them might have been in various political or religious groupings as by the very fact they were at this rally they were proclaiming the were people who believed in something, whatever that might be. I’ll tell you what they weren’t though, and that is “Trotskyite” and to characterise them as such is quite simply wrong.