Friday, May 30, 2008

Expelling someone from the party - a very big step

I received this anonymous comment below my recent post on Councillor Gavin Webb and his suspension from the party:

As you say, only one side is presented on the site. There are some parts that gives a clue as to what the other side of the case could be - like "It has also been said by some inside and outside of the Party that someone in elected office should be more 'careful' about what they say. Should that elected person be forced to hold back on his true opinions?"

Reading between the lines that does not sound like a team player but like someone who thinks all disagreements with fellow party councillors should be played out in full in public.

As I previously said, I am not endorsing the "Save the Stoke One" campaign because I know that there are always two sides to every story and I have great faith in the processes of the party on these matters. However, I do sympathise with Cllr Webb in respect to his espousal of radical "libertarian" policies.

I have no idea whether the intimation of the commenter above is true. However, I would just point out that expelling someone from the party is a very big step.

There are other steps, short of that, which can be considered. For example, bringing someone to book locally by inviting them to explain their actions to the Executive. I presume that avenue has already been exhausted or discounted here.

In a hypothetical situation it is potentially possible to review someone's approval to be a Liberal Democrat candidate or councillor. It is possible to be a member of the party but not be an approved candidate/councillor. There are thousands of people in that situation - me included at the moment. But membership is a separate issue and revocation has to be backed with pretty convincing evidence. It is intriguing that, so far, apart from the odd whisper, nothing too substantial has become apparent in the case of Cllr Webb.

It is also possible for a member to be moved from their geographically local party and be a member of a non-geographic party. I seem to remember, from my days as a membership secretary, that there is a small but distinguish band of people, for example, who come directly under the wing of Cowley Street. Or a member can be moved to the list of another local party in another part of the country.

If expulsion is proceeded with in this case, some people will have some explaining to do.

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