If you are a reader of the excellent Birdwatch magazine and have glanced at my column in the July issue then you will have noticed that I have cancelled my membership of the Labour Party after almost a decade of membership. I have voted Labour in most elections where I have had the chance to vote since 1976 but have voted Green in all the EU elections I can remember and I’m pretty sure I have voted Lib Dem at times where it looked the best way to prevent a Conservative being elected.
And I am very likely to continue to vote Labour in the future – but I don’t need to be a paid up Labour Party member to give them my vote and I’ve simply run out of patience with the Labour Party. Actually, I think I have been very patient, but Labour now seems pretty shambolic at a time when we need it to be strong. It’s a shame. I hope that Labour regains its direction and sense of purpose and if it does, they may see my money again.
I could give you a long list of my irritations with Labour but that wouldn’t be very interesting for you and not at all cathartic for me. However, as is often the case, it was a relatively minor thing that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I can understand the expulsion of Alastair Campbell from Labour for voting Lib Dem in the EU elections but I can’t agree with it. Like him or loathe him, there is very little doubt that Campbell is a more solidly Labour person than I am (although my politics are probably to the left of Campbell’s) and if the Party doesn’t think he belongs in Labour then if it gave it a moment’s thought it would probably not think that I belong there either. Nor, it seems, tens of thousands of others. So, I can take a hint.
And just to round this off, I’ll point out that I am not very tribal (IMHO). Although I have never voted Conservative in my life I can imagine circumstances under which I might. If I had ever lived in the constituencies of the following current or former Conservative MPs then I would probably have voted for them: John Randall, Kenneth Clarke, Alistair Burt, Dominic Grieve, Zac Goldsmith, Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen (and that isn’t a complete list but it is getting there!). And I would certainly vote for Caroline Lucas against all comers if I lived in the right part of Brighton and there are plenty of other Green Party candidates for whom I would vote; I’d certainly vote for Natalie Bennett and I’d have voted for Tony Juniper when he stood for the Greens in Cambridge years ago. And if we turn to the Lib Dems then if I were lucky enough to live in North Norfolk then I’d vote for Norman Lamb on his personal merits and not just to keep the Tories out.