Two VIPs apparently voted Liberal Democrat last week. Both could have taken advantage of the centuries-old and essential democratic protection called the secret ballot, by voting and leaving nobody the wiser as to how they had done so. But both felt the need to share, however.
The greater of the two is Lord Heseltine, perhaps the most important living Conservative politician. Once he had made his position plain, his party removed the whip from him in the House of Lords. No fuss, no media circus.
The other, of course, was Alastair Campbell. He had publicly admitted before that if he did not vote Labour, he would be expelled for the party.
So he knew what he was doing when he said two days after the election that he had indeed backed the Liberal Democrats. He has since become a martyr for everyone hostile to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of our party.
The effect of his vote, and those who did likewise in London, was to keep the excellent former MP Katy Clark, third on Labour’s list in the capital, out of the European parliament.
The rule is pretty clear. “A member of the party who… supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate… shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member.”
He has a right to appeal. Good luck to him – if he spends the next few days working to get the Labour vote out in the Peterborough by-election, I am sure that will help. But let’s have no crocodile tears or special pleading. Sauce for his lordship is sauce for the spin doctor.