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Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield criticised by local party chairman over election 'campaign conduct'

Despite bucking the national trend to increase her majority, MP Rosie Duffield has already faced strong criticism from her constituency association chairman.

In an email to local Labour members in Canterbury, seen by KentOnline, Ben Hickman blasts the victorious candidate’s conduct during the election campaign.

Rosie Duffield increased her majority in Canterbury - but has faced criticism from local party chairman Ben Hickman
Rosie Duffield increased her majority in Canterbury - but has faced criticism from local party chairman Ben Hickman

He references comments made by Ms Duffield on ITV’s Peston programme on the eve of the election which labelled the election campaign a “disgraceful race to the bottom” and predicted a Tory majority.

He adds: “How this was supposed to help secure a Labour government, let alone stop a hard Brexit, is hard to imagine - as is how it must have made Labour activists feel up and down the country.”

Mr Hickman identifies “areas for reflection”, including “showing unity with the national campaign”.

In apparent criticism of Ms Duffield advocating tactical voting, he adds: “Our candidate repeatedly called for votes against Labour candidates. In one instance, a week before polling day, we heard from Rosie that Jeremy Corbyn was ‘unfit to be Prime Minister’ and that Labour candidates should only be supported ‘in exceptional circumstances’.”

He says the association refrained from making any public statements at the time “to allow us the best chance of winning locally...but clearly they need to be addressed”.

The email, co-signed by secretary Clare Connerton, thanks local activists for their “heroic efforts”. He also thanks Owen Jones and Momentum activists who helped launch the campaign “and everyone else who helped from outside the constituency”.

Mr Hickman then adds: “And, of course, congratulations to Rosie Duffield, our re-elected MP and the campaign team behind her.”

The chairman invites all members to attend a meeting on January 8 to “debate how we go forward as a movement”.

“Despite winning locally, we are not the People’s Republic of Canterbury (yet),” he adds.

People’s Republic is used in the official title of several present and former communist and left-wing states.

Rosie Duffield shakes hands with Conservative rival Anna Firth after winning the seat for Labour for the second time in two years (Picture: Andy Jones)
Rosie Duffield shakes hands with Conservative rival Anna Firth after winning the seat for Labour for the second time in two years (Picture: Andy Jones)

It is not the first time Mr Hickman has been at odds with the MP.

In July, he described her claim that Labour was “probably” institutionally anti-Semitic as “incredibly reckless”.

Ms Duffield - who overturned long-serving Tory MP Julian Brazier's 9,798 in 2017 - declined to comment on Mr Hickman’s email.

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