An Open Letter to Rosie Duffield, Keir Starmer and David Evans

By Julie Wassmer

Sent by e-mail and post 12th October 2021


Dear Rosie Duffield, 

I am writing to you, while copying in Labour Party leader, Keir Starmer, and the General Secretary of Labour, David Evans, to ensure I receive a response on three very important constituency issues:-  

1. Potential interference in the selection of a replacement Labour candidate for local council

You will be aware that a by-election is due to be held in our Canterbury constituency following the recent resignation of George Caffery as a Whitstable Labour city councillor for Gorrell ward.  

I live in Gorrell ward and George Caffery is an old friend of mine; a local man; a former firefighter and someone who has always had the best interests of Whitstable at heart. He therefore garnered many votes from our community to become councillor – including my own and those of my friends and family.  

You must also now be aware that many local Labour party members are currently voicing concerns that interference may have taken place in the selection process of a replacement candidate following a meeting that is said to have taken place between yourself, Keir Starmer and David Evans, at which fears were raised that your position on trans issues would clash with that of a popular replacement council candidate, Dan Allen, who happens to be a strong supporter of trans rights.  

If this is true, such interference would not simply be an internal Labour Party matter because it impacts the democratic process for all constituents in this ward.  

I am therefore compelled to ask you if it is true that you did, in fact, meet with Keir Starmer and David Evans – after which it was decided to compel the prospective candidates to give added information about themselves which has since resulted in the suspension of Dan Allen from the Labour Party and the withdrawal of the other two candidates, Simon Warley and Craig Potter, as they did not wish to win this candidacy by default.  

I am unable to ask Dan Allen directly for a response as I believe he is unable to speak about his suspension. By doing so, he would no doubt put himself in a vulnerable position regarding his party membership and therefore any future candidacy as councillor but I can certainly tell you that other members are talking about this matter – in fact, it has fast become common knowledge within the local party – and community. 

Therefore, in the interests of transparency, I ask now for a clear, honest and irrefutable response from you as to whether, following a meeting you had with Keir Starmer and David Evans, it was decided to place hurdles in the way of candidates for the purpose of eliminating Dan Allen from the selection process as candidate for Gorrell ward?  

2. SOS Whitstable Protest against Southern Water’s sewage dumping  

Secondly, you will know that an extremely significant protest event took place on 9th October organised by the hardworking local campaign group, SOS Whitstable, which almost a thousand people attended to show commitment to fight sewage dumping in our sea by Southern Water.  

You were too busy to attend although you did post footage of yourself on your Facebook page that weekend, in which you opined to residents: “I can’t take my dog to certain parts of the constituency because I don’t know what he’s going to be sniffing” and that you hoped:  “something is done as soon as possible.” 

This is to let you know that, as MP, you can actually “do something” yourself, for constituents, by supporting the Duke of Wellington’s Amendment 60 of the Environment Bill which Baroness Natalie Bennett, a fellow speaker at the SOS Whitstable protest event, and the former leader for the Green Party, has informed us will be debated in the Commons on 20th October.  

Can I have your assurance, as my MP, that you support Amendment 60?  

3. Questions from local Labour Party members 

Knowing I was writing to you, Labour Party members have asked me to send the following questions to you:-  

  • “Why, when she’s said to live in Whitstable, does she never support branch meetings?” 
  • “Why does she never attend All Members meetings in Canterbury which should bring together the members within the constituency party, and where MPs are expected to report back to the party on their parliamentary involvement and other important current aspects of their work? Meeting dates have been changed to facilitate her attendance without success. Many excuses are supplied by her.”   
  • “Why does she fail to make herself accessible generally? If she dislikes questions or comments on social media she immediately blocks the constituent from further contact. Even the slightest criticism she takes as a major move against her and then claims victim status.” 

Apropos that last question, I am one of the many constituents who have been blocked from your social media accounts but I was informed that you had responded to a potentially libellous comment about me from one of your Twitter supporters as follows:- 

You are well aware that I am a professional TV drama writer and author, and that your comments in that tweet were liable to cause “reputational damage” for me and yet you went on to make them, having first blocked me from your Twitter page, while putting them in full view of your ‘followers’. You should know that I am taking legal advice on how to proceed on this. 

Finally, I have to say it is a tragedy that, in 2017, I and many other Canterbury constituents campaigned very strongly for a Labour parliamentary victory – principally to end Julian Brazier’s 30-year career here as Conservative MP only to suffer the double misfortune of having you imposed upon us as parliamentary candidate – without a single vote made by any Labour member –  and latterly as an MP who appears to many constituents to do little work beyond using controversial issues to sew division among various sections of the community – while over-engaging in the kind of self-promotion that resulted in bad publicity for both the Labour Party and its new leader when you broke lockdown guidelines to meet your married lover while continuing to clumsily offer unhelpful views in the complex and sensitive issue of trans rights.     

After constituents complained to me that they were failing to receive any replies from you to their correspondence, you admitted in an email to me that you actually had 18,000 unanswered constituents’ emails in your inbox. If that was meant to be an excuse, it was hardly a good one, and I told you at that time that I would never again encourage any constituent to write to you.  

I have not written to you since then, apart from on behalf of Thanet Labour councillor, Aram Rawf, when I invited you to speak at a public event in Canterbury to show support for Syrian Kurds. Characteristically, I received no response, but I now look forward to a full reply from you, and a speedy one, due to the upcoming Commons debate on Amendment 60 of the Environment Bill which over 90,000 people have endorsed with petition signatures.  

I sincerely hope you are one of them.

Yours sincerely,  

Julie Wassmer  

www.juliewassmer.com


Julie Wassmer. Photo by Jon Eldude.

Julie Wassmer is a TV drama writer and author. She has lived in Whitstable for over 20 years and  campaigns on environmental and community issues.


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