Alison Teal – https://twitter.com/alisonclareteal
- Former councillor and cabinet member Sheffield City Council
- General Election Candidate, Sheffield Central 2019
- Co-Chair Rights & Responsibilities Policy Working Group
- Current General Election Candidate, Sheffield Central
- Currently suspended from GPEW, since Oct 2022
Transcript from webinar of 04/12/23
Alison Teal – Testimonial
The Process is the Punishment
I was notified that I was selected by my local party to be the Green Party candidate for Sheffield Central at the next GE on Monday 26th September 2022.
Prior to this, I was asked to keep the morning of Wednesday 28th September free for the planned press launch if I was chosen.
The local campaign manager told me on the 27th Sept that there was disquiet in the central Green Party office about my selection.
She said the press release had to be delayed and that Natalie Bennett, who had previously agreed to attend the press launch and introduce the candidate had refused to attend because it was me.
So it would be fair to say the campaign for Sheffield Central was not off to a flying start!
I felt unsure of how to proceed and I spoke to people I thought I could trust at the time.
There was no plan for the campaign, or any publicity about my selection locally or by the national party. I did not feel comfortable launching the campaign independently and I was unsure of what resources I could call upon.
On the 10th of October, I was shocked to learn that five Sheffield Green Party Cllrs tweeted “I am a member of Sheffield Green Party and I support trans rights. I will not campaign for any candidate who discriminates against trans people”
My first instinct was to write a quote tweet stating “Neither would I” but I held off and observed the impact of their actions.
I had previously had what I thought were good relationships with the five Cllr and I was shocked that they had chosen to be so publicly hostile towards me. Given that I have never discriminated against trans people and of course I support trans rights I was struggling to understand what they were trying to achieve.
The consequence of them tweeting this hostile meme is that the first publicity of my selection success came in the form of a Bright Green article titled: “Green Party members publicly refuse to campaign for Sheffield Parliamentary Candidate” –
Wow, what a launch!
I offered to meet with the Councillors to talk about what they were feeling but sadly this still hasn’t happened. I did meet with the Sheffield Executive to discuss possible resolutions on the 17th of October.
Afterwards, one Exec member emailed me, asking me to please “Stand down for the good of the Party”
I replied saying, “Okay, so I was the first choice of the 56% of Sheffield members who voted, and you want me to stand down for the good of the party? Do you not think I have a democratic mandate?”
He replied: “… it’s not about democracy, it’s about what is best for the party.”
He thought he knew better than the 56% of members who voted.
On 20th October 2022, I received an email from the Green Party complaints manager telling me that a Sheffield Cllr had submitted a complaint about me based on Tweets I’d made which he alleged were transphobic. He also complained that I had failed to disclose that I disagreed with the trans-inclusive policy on my nomination form, so on the one hand, he claimed I was publicly transphobic and on the other hand, he claimed I was not being open about my views on transgender policy on an internal party document.
Despite these contradictions, the complainant expressed the view that I should be expelled from the Party.
His complaint was referred to GPRC and on the 25th of October, I received an email telling me that I was deemed to be a risk to the reputation of the Party and therefore placed on an NFS pending a disciplinary investigation into my alleged transphobic tweets and my failure to disclose my alleged disagreement with trans-inclusive policy.
On the 22nd of November, 2022 I submitted my response to the complaint I received on the 20th of October 2022. In my response I included the fact that I had previously received, in March 2021, two separate complaints which were very similar to the October 2022 complaint, in fact, many of the same allegedly transphobic tweets were included as evidence in all three. I queried, why the two complaints from March 2021, despite being so similar to the October 2022 complaint had not been investigated and had not led to an no-fault suspension.
Rather than note there was an inconsistency in the way complaints against me had been managed, the Investigator decided to roll all three complaints together!
There I was thinking I had made a valid point about how in March 2021 the complaints were ignored but then all of a sudden in October 2022 I found myself put on a NFS for essentially the same complaint, as proven by the fact that the investigator saw fit to roll them together!
In March this year, I took the opportunity to have legal representation. My lawyer set to work and responded to the Party regarding how the process did appear to be the punishment and explained that the Party was discriminating against me.
The Party pushed back and said it was following the Party process.
My lawyer replied saying:
It is correct that this may be an internal matter between the Green Party and Alison Teal, who is a member. However, even with the Green Party being an unincorporated organisation, the disputes and complaints process needs (i) to be fair and consistent, (ii) to be applied fairly and consistently, and (iii) to operate lawfully.
On the 3rd of November following pressure from my solicitor, the Party communicated to say that the complaints against me would be investigated during November this year, however, I’ve heard nothing so far.
My lawyer has advised me that now is the time for us to issue proceedings in the High Court and to pursue the Green Party for discrimination.
The Party’s governance bodies have failed to ensure a neutral and fair disciplinary system to protect me and all women from harm. Even if my NFS is lifted I have still suffered considerable stress as a result of the discrimination in the system as it stands.
GPRC have renewed my suspension three times already and I am yet to hear of the outcome of their consideration of my suspension at their meeting on the weekend. The reasons for my suspension have changed over time. The alleged transphobia is no longer listed as the reason that I present a threat to the reputation of the party. I think this is because the Party obtained legal guidance which clarified that my Tweets are not transphobic and therefore they opened themselves up to the potential of being discriminatory towards me for my protected belief that sex and gender are not the same.
GPRC now claim that I am a danger to the party because I attacked a Labour candidate, Eddie Izzard, on Twitter, which is untrue. I retweeted an article which mentioned both me, and Eddie Izzard and I wrote that the article raised concerns that I thought we ought to discuss in Sheffield Green Party.
Today a former GPRC member has stated publicly, and I quote, that “… for the brief time I was on GPRC I observed abuse of position, abuse of process, abuse of power and #discrimination.”
I can have no reasonable expectation of a process being fair that is targeting women who hold gender-critical beliefs like I do.
To give you an idea of the opportunity that has been squandered as a result of my 13 months on suspension I’d like to read an extract from correspondence that was shared with me today by a supporter who told me she has resigned because she is outraged about how I’m being treated. She wrote to the Sheffield Green Party and said:
“I was thrilled when Alison came forward as a possible candidate for MP. I have seen her work in many different ways.
I believed that she had a good chance of beating Labour as the Central Labour MP, Paul Blomfield was stepping down.
He had a good majority for the last two elections but in his first election in 2010 he only got in by a recount of 163 votes. The reason was that he was standing against the then city council leader, Liberal Democrat, Paul Scrivens.
This shows that a Liberal Democrat nearly got in on a personal vote and was a strong contender to a traditional Labour candidate.
Alison, as a Green would have got that personal vote similarly to Paul Scrivens. In the constituency, she is well known and hugely respected for the many campaigns she is involved in.
Also, boundary changes would have been in her favour as she would have got votes from areas where there are a majority of green councillors and Labour has lost much power.
She is so well known and respected for her tree protest actions and her challenges to the Labour-controlled Council. So I truly believe that the Greens have lost a chance of an MP here.”