Voices: This is why I was expelled from the Labour Party

The letter came in from Labour’s legal department mere days ago: “Your membership has been terminated with immediate effect.”

I read it. Then re-read it. I’m ashamed to say, my next reaction was to cry. At the injustice of it, the goddamned Kafkaesque insanity of it, and the dashed hopes I’d had of making a difference in my community – possibly even in government itself.

My “crime”? To have written a couple of replies to tweets which were positive about the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Jenny Jones – six months ago.

I’m not a politician. I’m a writer of lifestyle features, website content and sustainability reports. I’m a mum of two school-age kids. I’m a rock climber and adventurer of sorts. And yet there I was, applying to be the parliamentary candidate for my local constituency in the far west of Cornwall – Hayle, Camborne and Redruth – a collection of towns and villages that consistently register as the most economically depressed in the UK.

I have been fluttering around on the sidelines of politics for much of my adult life – I’ve been on marches: anti-Brexit, anti-Iraq War, anti-Trump and climate ones. I’ve been a keen tweeter. I was a member of the Labour Party for a few years prior to Jeremy Corbyn’s abject failure to make a stand against Brexit.

Politically untethered and an environmentalist by nature, I joined the Green Party and somehow found myself drawn to represent them in the council elections. As a non-campaigning “paper candidate”, I managed to get 18 per cent of the vote – with the result of splitting the progressive votes, and losing to yet another Tory candidate.

The Green Party selected me as their prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC), and then reminded me that the Greens would never win in this constituency. I wavered. With Sir Keir Starmer in charge, I wondered if my energy would be put to better use representing the Labour Party. It turned out that Labour is now polling ahead of the Tories in our constituency for the first time since Blair was in power – and at the time, the local party had no potential candidate.

I like the idea of the progressive parties joining forces. I’m a progressive, and I believe in working with people whose views best represent me – which can fluctuate. And here, I think is the problem. It’s all red team and blue team and loyalty to the flag, no matter the policies. It seems to crush the idea that you can address individual policies with critical thinking, while still pushing for a liberal, progressive, tolerant agenda.

In January, I did what Labour is hoping people will do in their droves in the next general election – made a decision to support the progressive, left-of-centre party most likely to win. I voted tactically, if you like, joining Labour with an intent to help drive forward the sort of environmentally and socially focused agenda that I have always espoused.

I was elected vice chair of my local Constituency Labour Party (CLP), began tentatively and shyly canvassing and quickly realised that my constituents are indeed “my people”. I’ve been here for 11 years, raised my kids here from toddler to teen, and been deeply involved in the community as we struggled with debt and trying to make ends meet.

Almost everyone I spoke to said that they were sick of politicians, no matter the colour of their rosette – the resounding view being: “I can’t be bothered to vote, because politicians are all the same.” Surprisingly often, though, people also said something along the lines of, “I would vote for someone like you – you’re not like all that lot.”

I was selected to be the local party’s delegate to attend the Labour Party conference in Liverpool. I found out that Camborne, Redruth and Hayle had become a target seat, with prospective parliamentary candidates from outside the constituency deciding to apply – after all, if you want a career in politics, it’s better to apply for a seat where you actually have a chance of winning, rather than in your home constituency.

The competition was intimidating, and I submitted my application with trepidation. Labour Party rules state that membership has to be continuous for at least 12 months for PPC applicants. Mine was only 9 months. My CLP secretary had suggested that those rules may be waived in some circumstances, so I went for it anyway.

Receiving a letter from the Labour Party legal department, I assumed that I was going to be informed that I was ineligible for the application. Fair enough, I thought – it was always going to be a long shot. But the letter simply stated that I had broken party rules by supporting another party.

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Evidence cited: one reply to a tweet in which I responded to a rousing speech by Jenny Jones, saying, “Imagine if Jenny Jones was our PM”, and another where I responded to the question: “If the royal family was abolished, who would you choose to be executive president?” with “Caroline Lucas”. My response could just as easily have been “George Monbiot” or any number of people whose views I support.

I deleted the tweets, pulled out of the PPC application process and appealed against the investigation. The result? I had my membership terminated. Immediately. No more canvassing, no more attending CLP meetings, no chance to support our PPC, no paying fees to help support Labour and no campaigning in the run-up to the general election.

My passion, energy and enthusiasm to galvanise local people to vote, to represent and support my community – gone.

Perhaps that’s all a bit dramatic. My 12-year-old son, seeing me with tears in my eyes when he got home from school, put his arm round me and said: “You’re just not ruthless enough for all that.” I’ve had all the supportive messages of: “You’re too good for them” and “their loss” and “you can make positive changes somewhere else’”. And you know what? I probably will.

The Labour Party has been approached for comment