So, farewell then Michael Franklin, councillor for Luton and Wayfield, who has finally been expelled by Medway Conservative three years after his grossly offensive tweeting was highlighted by this website.
In January 2016, we published an article highlighting the Islamophobic and otherwise offensive tweets of Cllr Franklin. In February 2016, these tweets were raised at full council. And then.. nothing.
No action was taken against Cllr Franklin, and last year, Medway Conservatives reselected him to fight for the Luton and Wayfield ward again. Change occurred last month when Baroness Warsi highlighted Cllr Franklin’s tweets, which led to the national party stepping in and a suspension finally being imposed.
Now, over 1,000 days after the issue was first raised, he has been formally expelled from the party.
In a statement to the Medway Messenger, Chatham and Aylesford party chairman Andrew Kennedy said:
“I can confirm that Cllr Franklin was expelled as a member of the Conservative Party after retweeting what members of the executive council considered to be Islamaphobic (sic) content.
A new Conservative candidate has been selected to contest Cllr Franklin’s Luton and Wayfield seat.
I have no further comment to add.”
While it is positive that action against Cllr Franklin has finally been taken, serious questions remain about the handling of this by Medway Conservatives.
As set out in detail in our previous piece on this, the party was aware of Cllr Franklin’s tweet in 2016.
Why did Andrew Kennedy and Cllr Jarrett act as if they had not heard about the issue despite the fact they were demonstrably aware in 2016?
Why were his colleagues happy to sit alongside him for three years after being made aware of his views?
Why was he reselected to fight his Luton and Wayfield seat in 2018?
What new information in 2019 led to him being expelled beyond what we revealed in 2016?
The party doesn’t seem particularly interested in answering any of these questions, likely because there is no way they adequately can.
The Michael Franklin debacle may finally be coming to an end, but serious concerns about the Medway Conservatives handling of such matters will inevitably remain.