Critical Tory faces expulsion

A LIFELONG Conservative who denounced the Government as 'disgraceful and disreputable' is facing expulsion by her local association.

Christina Speight's contribution to a BBC Newsnight discussion in January was lauded by one columnist as 'biting, on-the-ball criticism' which 'almost removed the perma-smirk from Michael Portillo's face'. It proved less popular with Ealing Acton Conservative Association, west London.

A rare motion calling for Mrs Speight, who is in her sixties, to be expelled has been tabled for a meeting of the executive. Yesterday Mrs Speight, who joined the party in her teens, claimed she was being persecuted for shouting what a disillusioned rank and file whispers.

Mrs Speight has stood in the car park of her local supermarket canvassing the views of 2,000 shoppers, knocked on 5,000 doors during the Newbury by-election and personally polled 350 constituency chairmen. She claims most grassroots Tories and many senior activists share her disappointment with the Government.

Yesterday, as she prepared her defence for Tuesday's meeting, she was on her usual form. 'It is totally unforgivable that ministers were prepared to allow innocent men from Matrix Churchill to go to jail when they had done nothing that wasn't agreed with government.'

She dismissed Back to Basics as a 'nonsensical propaganda exercise' and claimed ministers were now so out-of- touch that a period in opposition would do them good.

Mrs Speight believes the party is facing disaster. 'I believe the Government to be the problem, not Conservative councillors or most MEPs, but they will all be unjustly tarred with the same brush.'

Expulsions are allowed under the association's constitution when members' opinions are at odds with general aims. Philip Richardson, chairman of the association, said: 'Mrs Speight may or may not be right in her criticisms. But members of the association have problems with her telling people not to vote Conservative. That is a bit of an anomaly for a Conservative association.'

(Photograph omitted)