A Labour candidate has called her party’s treatment of Rosie Duffield MP ‘unfair’, after her constituency party sought to censure her for speaking out against Labour’s ongoing anti-Semitism scandal.
Charlotte Cornell, Rosie Duffield’s Head of Office and Labour’s prospective candidate for Dover, told InQuire that the motion set out to censor Rosie Duffield over her attendance of a demonstration against anti-Semitism ‘was unreflective of the women I know very well’.
The Canterbury MP was criticised in a recent letter sent out to members of the Canterbury Labour Party (CLP) for attending a demonstration outside Westminster against anti-Semitism in March, as well as speaking at the Jewish Labour Movement conference in September.
The signatories of the letter accused the Labour MP of involving herself with ‘groups and organisations that are campaigning to damage’ the Labour Party.
The letter reads: ‘We have observed the words and conduct of our Labour MP, Rosie Duffield, and we are dissatisfied at her decision to involve herself with groups and organisations that are campaigning to damage our Party, as well as impede its efforts to ensure the right to criticise crimes committed by the state of Israel.
‘We are particularly concerned that Rosie chose to show her support for these parties at a demonstration organised to groundlessly accuse the Party of systematic antisemitism.
‘She compounded this conduct by carelessly appearing to threaten the leader at a meeting of an organisation which, though affiliated with the Labour Party, does not at all times share its priorities.’
Cornell, who previously ran as a Labour councillor on two occasions but failed to win a seat, disagrees with the claim that Duffield is unsupportive of the leadership of party leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying that ‘Rosie is supportive of Jeremy Corbyn. She likes him very much’.
Speaking to the Guardian last week, Rosie Duffield said that she has full confidence in Corbyn as a leader and that he has privately been extremely supportive. She did hope, however, that he would in the future consider making a public intervention to support MPs facing censure from local party members. Corbyn has previously refused to do so, stating that it is ‘wrong for me to intervene in the democratic rights of any part of the Labour Party’.
Regarding the content of the letter sent out to the CLP, Cornell told InQuire: ‘What I think the motion highlighted to me is that we as an office need to make sure our communication with the CLP is more regular and consistent.’
The motion to censor Duffield was later withdrawn by members of the CLP with an overwhelming majority.
‘We have now put in place some measures with the CLP to make sure this does not come around again because it was very disappointing for us and for Rosie,’ said Cornell, who also claims to be a ‘great friend and sounding board’ to the 47-year-old MP.
Allegations of antisemitism in the UK Labour Party have been levelled since Jeremy Corbyn was first elected as Labour Party leader in September 2015. Recent accusations and revelations have prompted stern criticism from both Labour peers and Jewish figures such as former Chief Rabbi Johnathan Sacks.
‘Labour is absolutely not institutionally racist, and Jeremy Corbyn does not endorse anti-Semitism,’ insist Cornell, who considers herself to be a Corbynite after voting for the Islington North MP in the Labour Leadership Election.
‘He [Jeremy Corbyn] has spent his lifetime standing up for marginalised and persecuted groups, often speaking up for the rights of Palestinians. In the media, this has become incredibly conflated.
‘I do wish that we adopted the full definition of the IHRA much earlier, which would have saved us a summer of pain. The distraction meant we were not able to get our message out about the big issues that we wanted to campaign on. That was hugely frustrating to me.
Duffield, a mother of two children, is now considering her future as MP after her local party row, writing in the Observer: ‘Sometimes you have to ask yourself if positives outweigh negatives, and whether it is worth the effect it is having on my family.’
A former teaching assistant and part-time comic, Duffield defeated Conservative Brexiter Julian Brazier in the 2017 general election, making her the first non-Conservative Member of Parliament to represent Canterbury since the constituency’s reformulation in 1885.