Canterbury and Whitstable’s Labour MP Rosie Duffield is accusing city Conservatives of “weak political point scoring” after they publicly came out in support of her stance on anti-Semitism.
On Tuesday the Canterbury Journal revealed that two councillors had tabled a motion of support backing Ms Duffield and condemning “racism within the Labour Party”.
But last night she branded the motion to Canterbury City Council a poor use of local authority time – especially as it has numerous other issues to deal with.
Her comments came as pressure intensified on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to rid the party of extremist anti-Semitic elements and following a House of Commons debate on Tuesday night in which Jewish MPs revealed threats and abuse they had received.
“Cross-party stands against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism and intolerance are welcome, however this particular local council motion seems to be a poorly considered use of council time,” Ms Duffield said.
“The local Conservatives shouldn’t waste tax-payers’ money trying to spread rumour of division within the Labour Party.
“They should be focusing, as I am, on sorting out important local issues such as the massive Westgate car park bungle, the huge waiting times in our underfunded local NHS and the fact that the city of Canterbury is choking on polluted air.
“This badly drafted motion seems to be more about weak political point scoring than taking seriously the very real issue of racism and the way political parties of all colours should approach it.”
Ms Duffield, who will celebrate a year as Canterbury’s first ever Labour MP in June, was among those to attend a rally opposing anti-Semitism in Parliament Square on March 26.
It prompted city council Conservatives Stephen Bartley and Stuart Walker to table a motion endorsing her position.
It reads: “This council supports MPs of all parties in their public condemnation of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.
“Furthermore, this council calls on the Labour Party to confirm it will not use attendance at the anti-Semitism protest in Westminster on March 26 as grounds to deselect Rosie Duffield or any other MP.”
Labour denies there is a mechanism for deselecting MPs and points out that there has never been any suggestion of this happening to Ms Duffield.
The MP added: “I hope that the councillors putting forward this motion will be equally firm in their condemnation of Theresa May and her cabinet’s recent treatment of, and failure to act for, the Windrush Generation. This is yet another national shame.
“I assure local Tory councillors that I am both supported by, and very happy working with, my fantastic local Labour party in order to tackle antisemitism and racism wherever it may occur.
“We remain focused and hardworking to tackle and help with the issues that variety issues that constituents contact me about every day.”
The Cllrs’ motion is due to go before a meeting of the full city council on April 26.