Yes, you read that right. The Liberal Democrats are now so right wing and desperate to stay in power that a few months ago, they suspended me from the party because I dared to criticise Nick Clegg.
I had been busy preparing artwork (for all the other wards) when i received a frantic phone call from someone telling me to read my emails and not to panic. When i opened my email, I found the following:
The so called offending blog was this one. I was utterly livid, like many other members who had written similar posts, at the way the party had acted over the welfare reform bill. It is because of the welfare reform bill that I directly have been affected and lost my job. No one else in the Liberal Democrat blogosphere got suspended for having an opinion as far as I am aware.
So there I was, preparing a stuffing party for that weekend and preparing artwork for the other wards when I found myself suspended and unable to do anything about my campaign. Since when was it the policy of any political party to suspend someone for having an opinion?
As you can imagine, I was deeply upset by the notice of suspension. I had said nothing that brought the party in disrepute and other members had posted far worse on their blogs yet here I was being told that the party were seeking:
The region seeks the membership revocation of Lisa Harding if it is subsequently found that there has been conduct which falls under the scope of Articles 2.6a & 2.6b of the Constitution of the Liberal Democrats in England.
In short, they wanted me out. This blog has never been popular with the right wing orange book section of the party and they have, for a long time, tried to get it shut down for making comments that they do not agree with. There are many others however who DO agree with what I say and I speak, and have spoken, in many ways, for people within the party who feel that they currently have no voice. I e-mailed a few close friends about the matter and they were very supportive of my position.
Just some of the messages of support i received were as follows:
I really understand how you feel and I don’t blame you. I think XXXXXX is close to quitting too. This is a royal fuck-up entirely of the local party’s making although they are unlikely to see it that way.
I’m sorry that you have decided this is the only way forward. The officers of the local party have let you down. Their desire to keep everybody happy means they do not lead and are thus incapable of getting everyone to work as a team and stopping all the in-fighting.
The only negative comment I received was this one:
Lisa, you have done this before and it looks bad on you and the party.
The person who sent this has been texting me furiously about this blog since the day before yesterday. Their motive? To stop me damaging the local party. Not concerned about me and how I feel about all this other than a cursory “I am sorry you lost’ comment, but instead desperate to preserve a party that they one day want to lead locally and to stand for MP as a candidate. Yet another act of self preservation and a total disregard for the facts as they stand and an unwillingness to actually see what is going on under their noses. It hurts. This is also the same person who on a number of occasions has borderline breached the members code by releasing confidential part 2 information into the public realm. That person is not alone. Another member who’s only desire is to sit on the green benches, and who will sell their own mother to do so, encouraged another member to pretty much libel someone over section 106 monies and how they were used in a piece of literature. Thankfully the person who was doing the literature had more than enough sense to not use the information and backed away from it. The person with the information had it completely and utterly wrong. It could have been disastrous but shows the level of incompetence of some when it comes to basic fact checking.
As a result of the suspension, which was until then a private matter between myself, the chair and agent, I was then informed that it had been brought up at an officers meeting. During the meeting someone stated that I had to go through the re-election process again to find out if I was a fit and proper candidate. It was laughable. The first candidate that this party has in ages that actually does any work for residents and puts the effort in, and here was the local party, determined to try and force me out. You couldn’t make it up. They were still offended by my exercising my democratic right at an executive meeting some weeks before where I and one other voted against something that we did not agree with. It caused mayhem.
So i went through an ‘investigation’. This transpired to be one phone call with a regional officer. At the end of it i had to remove the offending blog post. I was told that someone locally had complained about it. I know who that is but won’t say here because frankly, that person is such a small minded ignorant being that they don’t deserve the attention. But, in short, I was cleared of all charges and able once again to run my campaign.
What was strange though was that even though the suspension was supposed to be private and I only talked about it to 2 close friends, some people on Twitter who have connections to Liberal Democrat HQ started talking about it online and crowing that they had finally gotten rid of me. I was stunned that this was the case and that they had breached confidentiality in this way. Was any action taken against them for doing so? No, of course not. They are party loyalists who would not dare disagree with something so they are immune from the usual rules that apply to the rest of us.
The final word on the matter to prove that the whole thing was just yet another nonsense is here:
Your comments on your blog last Monday was noticed by Region and due to a misunderstanding this led to you receiving a notice of your suspension last Thursday. Darren Briddock informed about this and I immediately let XXXXXXXX know as I was out of the country at the time on business. XXXX was able to contact Darren and yourself to explain the situation and after a very rapid investigation by XXXXXXX your suspension was reversed on Friday. To make it clear, I was very happy that the situation was resolved quickly and that you would be continue to be a member of the party.
So, as you can see, the whole thing was a misunderstanding and there was nothing in the blogs of any note that could have warranted the behaviour meted out me, however it did not stop them trying to force me out of the party.
Was any action taken against the others who had started it for wasting time? Don’t be daft. Did it damage my reputation within the party? Yes it did, fundamentally and I have been carrying it around my neck ever since. You want to know why I feel so badly let down? Well this post, the ones yesterday, I think, explain perfectly.
I’m not doing this for revenge as has been levelled against me. I am doing this to show people what the Liberal Democrats do to people who disagree with them, nationally and locally. I gave my all for this party and the people in it and I gave my all for residents who I had spent so much time doing things for in the face of total adversity from within. They deserve to know the truth. Even now people are trying to silence me and using emotional blackmail. People that I have stood up for in the past are now turning their backs on me when I need them the most. They too have fallen into the self preservation trap and are protecting their own interests.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much that cuts me to the bone.