Is the hard left taking over Canterbury?


This week The Journal was contacted by a group calling themselves Extinction Rebellion threatening to cut off the roads around the Westgate Towers in protest over climate change.

In the same week a vegan group from nearby Brighton made the news by storming a Waitrose and holding up plates covered in blood to deter shoppers from buying turkeys. How long before we see the same in Canterbury?

When I stood for the Lib Dems in the November by-election, Labour’s candidate was named Ben Hickman. Hickman is the chair of the Canterbury district Labour Party and describes himself on their website as ‘Left Left Labour’.

In September, his group attempted to formally censure Rosie Duffield after she stood up against anti-semitism at a rally in Westminster. You might have thought they would be pleased that for the first time in history Canterbury has a Labour MP. But when the hard left are on a vendetta, nobody is safe.

In June The Journal published an article on the American Library’s decision to rename their Laura Ingalls Wilder award after the Little House on the Prairie author was criticised over comments she made concerning native Americans nearly a century earlier.

When the inevitable barrage of abuse appeared in comments under the article from members of Ben’s Labour group, I asked if all streets, awards, and monuments should be renamed if their namesake had views that jarred against our 21st century values of cultural acceptability.

After all, Alfred Nobel was an arms manufacturer who invented dynamite, and Lord Nelson was pro-slavery. Should we get rid of the Nobel Peace Prize or topple Nelson from his column?

I was told by a Canterbury Labour member and former council candidate that I was displaying ‘white fragility’ and she angrily pointed me in the direction of some self-help books as if I were mentally dysfunctional. I gave up arguing at that point as you can never win an argument with anyone who has achieved such a heightened level of misguided, self-righteous confidence in themselves.

Of course, we can’t forget Kent Union’s attempt to prevent students from wearing sombreros or dressing up as Tories which the Journal revealed in October. On the day we broke the story, my phone was buzzing every few minutes with calls from the Times, the Telegraph, and the Independent. Nobody could believe what the left-wingers were doing.

I donate a lot of my time to working with the campaign group CHEK which is fighting for a new hospital in Canterbury. Even CHEK isn’t immune from attacks from the hard left. We frequently come under fire from groups such as SONiK who want us to focus our efforts solely on assaulting the Tories rather than actually campaigning for the hospital.

When they aren’t busy intimidating doctors and patients by taking over surgeries, SONiK members seem to like nothing more than to harass CHEK, which they see as not left-wing enough (CHEK has always made a point of being politically neutral).

As civilised human beings most of us understand that the ends don’t justify the means. Passionately believing in a cause doesn’t afford you moral superiority over people who take a different view or the right to behave in an unacceptable manner in the name of your chosen cause.

It is down this twisting path that ultimately Canterbury’s left, left, Labour Party may have dug its own grave. In Labour’s first test at the polls since Rosie Duffield’s shock victory in 2017, Ben Hickman was relegated to an uncomfortably distant third.

As the campaign warms up in the battle for Canterbury City Council next May, instead of taking the fight to the Tories, the local Labour Party is focussing a disproportionate amount of its efforts campaigning in traditional Lib Dem strongholds.

Sadly, this is excellent news for the Tories who are likely to sail to victory in a number of wards that will be barely contested as the hard left turn their guns on the Lib Dems.

We Lib Dems will carry on doing what we always do. Working hard and campaigning daily on the local issues that matter to us and our neighbours. You are unlikely to find us taking over supermarkets with plates covered in blood or attempting to bring Canterbury’s traffic to a standstill.

So, the question remains. Are the hard left taking over Canterbury? Maybe we shall find out in 2019. At least for the moment the hard right seem to be a busted flush.


  1. What a lot of self-serving, inaccurate nonsense from Alex Lister. The answer to the Daily Mail-style question in headline is, as Alex well knows, “no”. The hard left is not taking over Canterbury or anywhere. Ben Hickman had nothing to do with a censure motion that was never put to any meeting as an overwhelming majority of Labour members here – more than 90% – decided it was not even worth discussing. To say that “his group”, whatever that means, had anything to do with it is frankly libellous. And why do you assume that the discussion by Kent Union over sombreros and dressing up as Nazis had anything to do with the left? The truth is that you Alex, as Managing Director of the Canterbury Journal, are using the power of ownership of a part of the media, to expound and propagandise your political views – just like Rupert Murdoch etc- and to attack your political opponents in a scurrilous and despicable way. Labour will fight the next local election campaign fairly on a manifesto designed to benefit the citizens of Canterbury. All of them. The party will not stoop to your level. Labour respects this city. The Canterbury Journal is showing its true colours by articles like this. It should come with a health warning – “This website has no regard for truth or decency”

  2. Michael Prowse – it was the CLP that tried to censure Rosie. Ben Hickman is the chair of the CLP.

    The Kent Union action was clearly an action of people with a leftist bent. Are you suggesting it was right wing or centrist people that proposed it?

    And as for fighting for ALL citizens, your very slogan says the opposite. For the many not the few i.e. if you aren’t one of us we will screw you!

    But in all honesty Michael, the Journal is an open platform for people of all political persuasions. I might not agree with you, but if you have valid points to make in non-hysterical and respectful manner then I guarantee we will publish them. You can snipe at me in the comments section or you can take a stand and make your case.

    We have a few editorial rules that are on the ‘Write for us’ page. Apart from that, you can write what you want. Is that fair?

  3. That’s fair – I’ll take you up on that offer. But the CLP did not try to censure Rosie Duffield. In fact the total opposite.The CLP under the chair of Ben Hickman, made sure that a vexatious motion from a tiny number of disgruntled members was thrown out by an overwhelming majority. And as for the Kent Union action, you are making a mistake to say that all people who are against racism, the mocking of other cultures etc are of “leftish bent”. Surely you too would condemn such behaviour as I am sure would your CJ partner Alex Claridge – and no one could accuse him of being left!


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