(one that lives in the constituency)
A Kent Labour Party Member
This piece has been written by a long-standing Kent Labour Party member who has actively campaigned for the Labour Party in numerous local and national elections over many years. The writer has chosen anonymity in order to escape suspension or expulsion from the party. Whitstable Views respects that choice.
Last week I was informed by reliable and trusted sources that on Thursday, January 27th 2022, Labour members in Canterbury & Whitstable received the shock news that their MP, Rosie Duffield, no longer lives in the constituency. At the All-Members Constituency Labour Party (“CLP”) meeting that evening, the CLP Officers admitted to members that they understood Ms Duffield had in fact moved to North Wales. Ms Duffield’s partner, the TV director James Routh, is apparently pursuing his media career in Wrexham and it would seem Ms Duffield had joined him there. She appears to have been living there since late summer or early autumn last year.
This follows Labour members and residents having become increasingly concerned in recent months that the Canterbury MP seldom appeared to visit her constituency. She certainly shows poor attendance at local Party meetings, street stalls and campaign events. In addition, constituents have reported numerous instances of her failure to respond to their letters and e-mails and she has a history of blocking from her social media platforms the constituents who dare to hold her to account.
Failure to notify local members
CLP officers and members alike are bewildered as to how Ms Duffield could properly perform her duties as a local MP while choosing to live more than 200 miles away. The principle behind parliamentary democracy in the UK is that MPs represent a local area and all those who live in that area. Nearly all MPs have a residence in the constituency which they represent with only a very small number living in a neighbouring one.
It seems Ms Duffield did not inform the local Party where she had moved to and it is understood the Westminster Whips office only discovered this by chance with CLP Officers becoming aware of the move due to a tip-off via the Whips office.
Many Party members as well as local residents have harboured serious concerns about Rosie Duffield’s commitment to the area since the Labour electoral victory in June 2017 by which Ms Duffield became MP. In addition to her failure to respond in writing to her constituents her attendance at meetings with constituents, local groups and local Labour Councillors has been very poor. Some members joke about her often used excuse “the trains from London have been cancelled”!
Lack of commitment
It is fair to say that Ms Duffield has also demonstrated a distinct lack of commitment to the Westminster part of her role. She is rarely seen on the floor of the house. The House of Commons website records that she has only tabled two Early Day motions in more than 4.5 years and that her attendance at the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Select Committee is only 51%. This is despite the significant local environmental issue of pollution of the sea in her constituency and that significant parts of her constituency are rural ones and part of the agricultural economy.
Obviously both Westminster and Canterbury & Whitstable are a long way from North Wales, even if the trains are running!
Ms Duffield does not drive.
Second highest MPs expenses in Kent
At £232,539.44, Ms Duffield’s expenses are the second highest of any Kent MP.
Those shockingly high expenses surely cannot be argued to be the result of frequent travel between her constituency and Westminster as she is so seldom in Canterbury & Whitstable?
Members do not even seem to know if she has an office in the constituency or who she employs.
Certainly, it appears Ms Duffield has failed to respond to enquiries from the local press about her expenses:-
“On April 23, Canterbury’s Ms Duffield made a single claim of £4,220.84, with the expense described as for “computer, laptop, PC, tablet & accessories”. Ms Duffield’s team also did not respond when asked if this was for home working and how many employees the equipment was for.”
What do all these expenses relate to? Are taxpayers now having to finance Ms Duffield’s move to North Wales and any subsequent travel and hotel expenses?
Who am I?
As a long-standing Kent Labour Party member who has actively campaigned for the Party in numerous local and national elections over many years, I choose to make these points while remaining anonymous in order to avoid the fate of other Party members who have spoken out. Indeed, it was widely discussed and disseminated among Party members that Ms Duffield had made a very clumsy intervention into the recent Gorrell ward by-election in Whitstable after opposition to the candidacy of a long-standing and popular local Whitstable member. The candidate was suspended from the party while two other Labour members who had also put themselves forward withdrew in response to his removal – not least because he was believed to be the most likely and appropriate candidate as he lived in the ward.
The result of that internal fiasco was that very few Labour Party members from Whitstable campaigned for the new Labour candidate in the Gorrell ward by-election and many actually abstained from voting. Some even voted for The Green Party, as a result of which the Green candidate, Clare Turnbull, was duly elected as the first ever Green Party city councillor.
It is widely believed that Ms Duffield had been instrumental in her own Party losing one of its only 10 councillors on the city council.
The next General Election
In spite of all this, and in what appears to be an incredible act of hubris Rosie Duffield has indicated that she again wants to be the Labour parliamentary candidate for Canterbury & Whitstable at the next election. Presumably, considering her apparent move to North Wales, Ms Duffield has forgotten that she posted the following comment about a previous parliamentary candidate’s tenuous link to the constituency:-
The residents of Canterbury, Whitstable & the Villages and the local Party members deserve so much better. They need an MP who will fight for their rights on important local issues such as social and affordable housing, the environment, better public transport and proper workplace rights and wages. Ms Duffield has seldom shown an interest in such issues.
Importantly, they also need an MP who lives in the area and who therefore remains connected to local people and issues.
This is crucial considering the fact that Canterbury & Whitstable is the only constituency in Kent with a Labour MP.
A chance to decide
Labour members in Canterbury & Whitstable will shortly have the chance to decide if Ms Duffield will be their candidate at the next General Election. A trigger ballot will take place by which members and other affiliated bodies such as local trade unions can have their say. Members will have the opportunity to replace Ms Duffield with someone who will work hard in this important role and who is prepared to give proper care and attention to local constituents and the area. Can Rosie Duffield do this if she is living more than 200 miles away?
I, and many others, do not believe she can. We need another parliamentary candidate; one who Party members and supporters can support with confidence.
One thing is sure – we must not let such an important opportunity slip away.
A Kent Labour Party Member
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