THE MP for Dover and Deal has exchanged blows with his "Punch and Judy" election rival – who criticised the Tories' record on jobs in the area.
Speaking at the Labour party conference in Manchester, Clair Hawkins argued it has been "bad news for jobs" while the constituency is under Conservative rule.
But Charlie Elphicke said he was hoping Miss Hawkins's speech would reveal why she "couldn't be bothered" to attend an anti-privatisation rally last month.
In her address to the conference on Monday, Miss Hawkins pointed to the closure of pits in the 80s, restructuring at the port in the 90s and the loss of thousands of jobs at nearby Pfizer as examples of the Conservatives failing on employment.
"We know Tory austerity isn't working – their priorities, their understanding, they're all wrong," she said.
"In the Dover district nine per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds are unemployed, a tragic waste of talent and potential."
The Labour candidate described the "many young people desperate to work" at Aylesham Skills Factory and argued it was "a disgrace" that Deal needed a food bank.
But Dover and Deal's Conservative MP, Charlie Elphicke, hit back.
He said Miss Hawkins reminds him of the constituency's former Labour MP, Gwyn Prosser – "long on rhetoric and very Punch and Judy".
He added: "I was hoping she would use her speech to explain why she couldn't be bothered to turn up at a union-organised rally to save our port.
"Maybe it was because Gordon Brown and the Labour Party put our port up for sale."
Miss Hawkins said: "I would have attended but I was away at a Co-op Party Conference.
"I spoke on two motions that we were putting forward and it wasn't possible for me to get down.
"My letter of support was read out at the rally and I fully support a united effort to prevent the privatisation of the port of Dover."