Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield speaking in the House of Commons

Why those attacks on Rosie Duffield are unjustified

The Canterbury campaign for the next General Election began on Friday, June 9 2017, the very day after Rosie Duffield and Labour pulled off the shock win of the night.

At least it did for the Tories, stunned by the loss of a seat they considered so safe that leading local councillors were off campaigning in other constituencies around Kent and Sussex.

Their campaign to date has been wholly negative, comprising little more than sniping at your new MP.

That suggests that they haven’t actually recognised why Ms Duffield beat Sir Julian Brazier, a man who could almost be a parody of the Shire Tory, out of touch with his constituents about Brexit and apparently with the rest of the world about most aspects of modern life.

Why do the Tories dislike Ms Duffield? The charge sheet seems to consist of her being inexperienced in the ways of Parliament and public speaking, and alternately being a Corbyn stooge and parroting Labour’s policies, or not following what they believe to be Labour’s “party line”, depending entirely on their mood.

Dave Wilson on Labour’s victory

These are ludicrous criticisms. Of course, I’m not here to help them work out better ways of attacking your MP, but to suggest they have rather missed the point of the 2017 election in Canterbury.

In short, Ms Duffield won precisely because she is not Sir Julian Brazier.

In addition to the obvious gender difference, Ms Duffield is almost completely the opposite of our former MP.

She connected with the people of Canterbury and Whitstable through her down-to-earth approach and obvious authenticity.

Not being a career politician, Ms Duffield is clearly not trained to blindly advocate policy, but relates what is going on to the real experience of peoples’ lives.

When she talks about schooling and childcare, the threat to our K&C hospital, and women’s issues you know that she understands that reality because she has lived it.

Now, your average parliamentary candidate doesn’t tend to be a single mum with little political experience.

It’s all very well for ex-public schoolboys with the self-confidence and practice that only a private education brings, to criticise someone for memorising her speeches.

The fact is that most people don’t routinely make speeches, haven’t been trained to do it, and find it intimidating even among friends – as almost any wedding speech you’ve ever heard shows.

Faced with the House of Commons in full cry, most people are going to take a while to gain their voice, to become confident and forthright.

The fact is that when Ms Duffield has spoken in the House she has been clear, precise, and above all passionate in defence of our area, which is exactly what you want of an MP. She represents us very well.

Parliament is, I suspect, almost impossible for an outsider to be prepared for – and especially a woman. That’s one reason why so many full time political staff from all parties end up standing as candidates – they know the ropes, the way things get done, and the expectations of the political machine.

But do we really want Parliament full of people whose only connection to real life is the tube journey to and from Westminster?

Given time – and let’s be honest, Ms Duffield has only been our MP for nine months, including both summer and Christmas recesses – anyone can acquire that experience and knowledge. Ms Duffield will do that quickly, in my view.

On the question of the application of policy, this is something all MP’s struggle with.

You see Tory MPs desperately wriggling to deny the impact of their own Government’s policies on their constituents all the time, as if, for example, austerity and the cuts to local government funding from Whitehall had nothing to do with them.

Of course, all MPs have to balance commitment to their party and the manifesto they were elected on with the needs of their local voters. This isn’t new, and there’s no evidence that Ms Duffield is putting party before constituency.

The attempts by Tories on Twitter to create some sense that she says one thing here and votes another way in Parliament are quite desperate.

The bottom line is simple. Canterbury and Whitstable elected someone who doesn’t do professional politics.

She is approachable, personable and honest. She has won local people’s support through a combination of personality, commitment and hard work. It’s no wonder that the Conservatives feel threatened by her.

Dave Wilson is a Labour Party member and community activist who has worked in and around local authorities for 35 years.

5 responses to “Why those attacks on Rosie Duffield are unjustified”

  1. Eddie Johnson says:

    Perhaps the reason she is hard to accept is that she was voted for by people who aren’t living in the area anymore. It is hard to understand why someone is allowed to vote in this constituency and the very next day leave the city for good. It also has to be said I have seen no change in the city at all since she has been elected.

    • Stephen F Howard says:

      Apart from not having the stats to backup your flawed argument. Isnt that the situation in every University town up and down the country? Or is it just Canterbury which had a tory MP who went through all the lobbies in support of the Lansley Bill and supported Hunt as he slashed the required budgets year in and year out, yet had the duplicity to stand at the front of the CHECK march against the closure and running down of the much loved Canterbury Hospital? It wouldn’t be that the good people of Canterbury saw through his charade now would it? And now they have been brave enough to make that change, they are unlikely to make it back again seeing the way people like you snipe away without getting their facts straight. 😉

    • Eddie Johnson says:

      Firstly I never once said Brazier was perfect I agree he has been in office too long but the facts are that there was a huge surge in student voters some of whom and I quote KM came back specifically to vote labour (they were interviewed by the paper) then leave. Also it may have skipped your attention that Labour were the party that began the downgrading and closure of Kent and Canterbury hospital. I’m not saying I’m against change what I am saying is that those who vote in the election should be at least living in the constituency after that vote. Not rocket science really.

  2. Having met both Julian Brazier when I stood against him in 2005 and Rosie Duffield last year at a meeting about my own battles, I can honestly say one came across as a human being who cared and was passionate about the job they had been tasked by the electorate, the other was so out of touch with the real world it was unlikely they even knew what the electorate were.
    Not much change in the area? Well in the world of politics 9 months is like the blink of an eye unless of course the government in power spots a way of staying in that position then it’s all guns to the fore. Well done Rosie Duffield for ousting the dinosaur in a suit.

  3. Emailman says:

    “Parliament is, I suspect, almost impossible for an outsider to be prepared for – and especially a woman. ”

    Virtue signalling. Boil your head.

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