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Canterbury City Council's Labour members Phil Cartwright and John Wratten quit party over ‘hypocrisy and back stabbing’ by Whitstable supporters

Two city councillors have quit the Labour Party branding Whitstable supporters “back stabbers” after they were deselected to contest next year’s election.

Harbour ward members Phil Cartwright and leader John Wratten have resigned from the group after losing a vote to field party candidates in May.

At the previous election in 2011, they both secured more than 900 votes but have been axed from standing in the new Gorrell ward after losing a secret ballot consisting of nine votes.

Harbour councillors John Wratten and Phil Cartwright
Harbour councillors John Wratten and Phil Cartwright

The area was redrawn following a review by the Boundary Commission which divided Harbour ward into Tankerton and Gorrell.

Instead, the three Labour candidates up for election have been revealed as Rita O’Brien, Bernadette Fisher and former city councillor Peter Halfpenny.

In letters to the Gazette, the duo launched a stinging attack on the Whitstable Labour branch branding supporters as “hypocrites” and “cowards”.

Cllr Phil Cartwright fears for the impact on residents
Cllr Phil Cartwright fears for the impact on residents

Cllr Cartwright wrote: “I am discouraged, saddened and hurt by the lack of faith and loyalty shown by the Whitstable branch towards its two serving councillors.

“For example, John Wratten the group leader has served this town for 16 years only to be dismissed without warning in 30 seconds in exchange for two candidates whom I have hardly seen or spoken to.

“I think it’s fair to say that it hurts and it feels as though the last three and a half years have been...unvalued.”

Labour leader John Wratten referred to some party supporters as "scheming".
Labour leader John Wratten referred to some party supporters as "scheming".

Meanwhile, Cllr Wratten has attacked Whitstable Labour supporters describing them as “scheming”.

He wrote: “We accept that the Labour Party rules were not broken but at a time when even the Tory party has just selected a candidate by postal votes, is it right that a group of nine can kick out councillors who were elected by over 900 votes each.

“The Labour Party needs to come out of the Dark Ages.

“Needless to say we no longer want anything to do with the hypocrisy and cowardly back stabbing of Whitstable Labour so we, in future will be known as independents.”

The men – two thirds of the authority’s Labour councillors – say they could even stand against their replacements in May.

They also revealed they considered triggering a bye-election by resigning from the council but say it would have cost the council £6,000 to arrange.

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