Well done to Bob Shaw (though goodness knows what his blog is called this week) for nailing down the reason for the Gavin Webb suspension to the issue of hand guns where Gavin was advocating the opposite of party policy in his local press.
In one sense, I am utterly amazed that someone has been suspended for letting slip that they disagree with one element of party policy. I would be staggered if any movement to expel Gavin succeeded on this basis. In another sense, I am not surprised. It is frighteningly easy to suspend someone. You can do so under an emergency procedure - so you could do it with a green light from just three (overly nervous?) officers.
However, I am also rather amazed as to how Gavin has got into a local press scenario where they have cleared the pages to present him sounding off on a myriad of policy areas, none within his power to change as a local councillor. When I was a councillor I kept my head down and concentrated my comments on litter and planning applications etc. I kept schtum, for example, on my Republicanism, because it is not party policy, had nothing to do with my role as a councillor and would have frightened the horses. But I still discussed the subject in party circles and indeed in public forums other than the local press.
So, a LibDem councillor should not entirely open the kimono of their views on all subjects to the local press (certainly not without heavy caveats and disclaimers). Some discretion ought to be shown. But having said that, suspension for voicing one element of disagreement with party policy is just ridiculous.
But, as I say, it is frighteningly easy to suspend someone. There might just be a tactic here - suspend for the elections then everything is smoothed over and the man is reinstated quietly afterwards. If so, that is rather cynical and silly.