Publicado originalmente en Kent Current: http://centreforjournalismprojects.co.uk/kentcurrent/2019/02/06/medway-tory-councillor-suspended-over-racist-tweets/
Cllr Michael Franklin has been suspended from the Conservative Party following a row over “racist and Islamophobic” tweets that he shared in 2016.
Earlier today, two of his tweets surfaced when Baroness Sayeeda Wasi (Conservative) shared them on her Twitter account.
Brandon Lewis, Chairman of the Party, responded on Twitter: “He has been suspended, pending investigation.”
The online blog ‘The Political Medway’ exposed the Luton and Wayfield councillor’s tweets back in January 2016. Months later, Medway Council investigated Mr Franklin’s offensive tweets but no action was taken against the councillor at the time.
In a joint statement, Andrew Kennedy, Chair of Chatham and Aylesford Conservative Party, and Cllr Alan Jarrett, leader of Medway Council, announced the suspension of Cllr Franklin pending a full investigation.
“Earlier this morning it was brought to our attention that Cllr Mike Franklin retweeted something which is hostile to Islam and contained offensive language.
“Alan Jarrett, as leader of the Medway Council Conservative Group, has also taken action to suspend the Group Whip pending the outcome of this enquiry.”
Medway Labour Leader Vince Maple criticised the Conservative party and questioned why it took so long to suspend Cllr Franklin.
“The question has to be asked: why was he not suspended three years ago?
“I would say that’s three years too long. If they [the local Conservative Party] would have wanted to suspend him, they could have done that three years ago, they could have investigated three years ago. It’s only now that they are being highlighted on a national level that they have chosen to do this [suspend him].
“The conservative party needs to look at itself long and hard to see whether they feel it’s appropriate for an elected representative to be sharing these views in that way in 2019.”
TellMAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), an organization funded to tackle Anti-Muslim hatred, released an investigation shortly after councillor’s suspension containing additional ‘Islamophobic’ retweets made by Mr. Franklin.
The organization welcomed the action taken by the Conservative party but were surprised they took so long to suspend him.
“The retweets which appeared on the Twitter account of Cllr Franklin were grotesque examples of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic stereotypes. Councillors must abide by a code of conduct, online and offline, and, given, that concerns were raised about Cllr Franklin in 2016, we are surprised it took this long to suspend him.
“It should not fall on politicians and organisations like ourselves in Tell MAMA to ensure action is taken, especially when members of the public have already raised concerns. We welcome the swift action taken by the Conservative Party.”
Councillor Michael Franklin could not be reached for comment.