When an activist in the local Labour Party where I was at university, I formally tabled [a motion] rejecting the membership application of someone who now writes a well-regarded blog on economics, on grounds of my certainty of his membership of the Militant organisation.
I was that man. And what's more, this is one of the few of my youthful dalliances I'm not embarrassed about.
On this point, Oliver contrives to be 100% wrong. He claims that Militant had/has "an ideology alien to Labour's democratic values."
But this is not true. Yes, Militant was democratically centrist. But that only meant that, once the group had taken a decision, its members should stick to it - it's the same principle as cabinet collective responsibility.
I was attracted to Militant largely because it was (is?) more democratic than old Labour. It aimed to empower ordinary people by increasing democratic control over the economy. And its slogan "a workers MP on a workers wage" was a rejection of the notion that politicians should be a separate elite causing a "potentially dangerous gap between politicians and the public."
And what are these democratic values that "mainstream" Labour holds? In what respects has New Labour increased democracy within the UK? How has it empowered ordinary people?
A few elected mayors seems about the limit. Blair's instincts are in some ways, as Tony McWalter has pointed out, anti-democratic. And in creating around 3000 new criminal offences, New Labour's attitude seems to be that people are to be controlled an corralled, not empowered.
Of course, there's much about Militant that I now dislike - the notion of a centrally planned economy is daft. But for Oliver to call it and me alien to democratic values is plain wrong.
Another thing: One of the more attractive features of Militant when I was a member is that we called ourselves not "Militant" but the "Tendency". I always liked this implication that political view were to be lightly held. We were all extremists, but we weren't all fanatics.