On Wednesday evening, my application to register my support for the Labour party was rejected. They kept my three quid though. And if I want to appeal the decision to ban me from voting in the leadership election, I'll have to pay another £46.56 to become a full member to do so.
In my own Dear John e-mail I was told there was reason to believe that I do not support the “aims and values of the Labour Party”, or that I was “a supporter of an organisation opposed to the Labour Party.” Now to borrow a phrase, let me be absolutely clear. That last bit is sort of true. But only sort of.
I joined the Green Party earlier this year. And it's the second political party I had been a member of. The other one wasn't Labour either.
Back in the heady, left-leaning days of Charlie Kennedy I had joined the Liberal Democrats. This was post-Iraq, post-university and, in my defence, it seemed like a good left-wing alternative to Labour.
But my year as a signed up Lib Dem did not ignite my passion for politics. I was mainly asked me for money, money I did not have. I was glad to let my membership lapse. And back in the wilderness I gravitated briefly towards Labour.
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I had always admired Gordon Brown. He’s obviously flawed, but when I hear him speak I can’t help but be moved. We campaign in poetry and govern in prose, and Brown is a far better poet than he is prose writer.
I had intended to vote Labour, for Brown, in 2010. But when it down to it, I couldn't get past Iraq. And then there was Gillian Duffy. So I voted Green in Norwich South, and felt excited to see Adrian Ramsay only a few thousand votes off the eventual (Lib Dem) winner.
After that I took more of an interest in Green politics. I felt buoyed by Caroline Lucas’ success in Brighton (from 2% of the vote in 1997 to election in 2010) and put a few leaflets through doors on behalf of the local candidates. But, even though I was now a member of the Greens, I couldn’t decide who to vote for in May. I live in a Labour marginal now and I, like many on the left, was keen to keep the Conservatives out. In the end, I crossed the box for the Green candidate.
Yet I feel that Labour should be my natural home. The right wingers have a home in the Conservative Party. The left needs Labour to be a party they can believe in. With the arrival of Jeremy Corbyn, here was someone I could get behind.
Technically, I am still a member of the Green party, but to be honest, in much the same way as I was of the Lib Dems, just waiting for the year to be up. I know this will enrage loyalists on all sides, but I’m just not a great joiner. I want to be invested in something, but so far belonging to a party clearly hasn't inspired me.
Offering the chance to be a registered supporter is a great idea, perfect for these changeable times. I’d be a registered supporter of the Greens, too, if they offered it. Loosely affiliated, that suits me. I am still a potential Labour voter; why shouldn’t I have my say on the next leader?
I’ve been called a “Trotskyist entryist“ on Twitter, which felt archaic, but those 1980s entrusts were motivated guys. A bloke who lets his memberships to political parties lapse because he gets too many emails just isn’t in the same boat.
I’m not a member of the Conservative party or Ukip, or even the Liberal Democrats. I do not hold views that are incompatible with Labour membership. If the numbers added up, would Labour hesitate over forming a coalition with the Greens? Of course not.
I won’t appeal Labour’s decision, I’m just disappointed by it. But here’s the sinister thing - my wife, who has always voted Labour and who joined the Labour Party as a full member before the leadership candidates had announced - has also been rejected.
She hasn’t got a Twitter account in which he might have once said something critical about Labour, and she doesn’t have a public profile. But she does live with me. Perhaps they’re just not taking any chances. But with that attitude towards its supporters, it's hard to see Labour winning again.
Labour leadership: The Contenders
Labour leadership: The Contenders
1/2 Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn started off as the rank outsider in the race to replace Ed Miliband and admitted he was only standing to ensure the left of the party was given a voice in the contest. But the Islington North MP, who first entered Parliament in 1983, is now the firm favourite to be elected Labour leader on September 12 after a surge in left-wing supporters signing up for a vote.
2/2 Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham started out as the front-runner in the leadership election, seen as the candidate of the left until Jeremy Corbyn entered the race. The former Cabinet minister has found himself squeezed between the growing populism of Corbyn’s radical agenda and the moderate, centre-left Yvette Cooper, not knowing which way to turn. It has attracted damaging labels such as ‘flip-flop Andy’, most notably over his response to the Government’s Welfare Bill. He remains hopeful he can win enough second preference votes to take him over the 50 per cent threshold ahead of Corbyn.