Labour purge: Why shouldn't I have green values and red politics?

My vote has been slung out of the leadership contest because I'm a member of the Green party. Labour is on a losing path if it ignores the views of floating voters like me

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The Independent Online


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.