Emily Thornberry had an absolute howler. Forget Rochester, she’s had a full on Weston-super-Mare. In fact, I imagine she might be the only gleam of light on David Cameron’s dark horizon, after an ill-thought-out tweet by the Labour MP provided the Conservatives with a twig with which to beat Labour and deflect attention from their own woes.
With the backdrop of yesterday’s Rochester and Strood by-election, where the defection of Conservative MP Mark Reckless to UKIP saw UKIP gain its second MP, Thornberry took to Twitter to tweet a picture of the front of a terraced house complete with a white van and bedecked in no fewer than three St George’s flags.
The underlying message was one of unmistakeable contempt and a deep cultural snobbery towards the demonstrations, whether they be aesthetic or political, of the British working class. Her message perfectly illustrated the extent to which Labour are out of touch with those they profess to protect and plainly exposed the gulf between Labour MPs and a significant percentage of the electorate over immigration and British patriotism.
Moreover, it was unforgivably bad politics on today of all days, when the one party that has spoken out over mass immigration while flying our national flags with glee is about to storm to victory once more. Of all places to take the piss out of British patriotism, a soon-to-be UKIP seat on polling day.
Better yet, Ms Thornberry is the MP for Islington, the spiritual home of the Guardianista metropolitan liberal elite who Labour now court over the working man. Thornberry is the true voice of today’s British Labour Party, of which Tony Blair was the cherub angel, the leading light; and this is the real reason why Labour will fail to win a majority come next year’s General Election despite a wildly unpopular government in times of austerity.
Thornberry has perfectly illustrated just why UKIP is gaining ground and Labour are falling in the polls; her tweet epitomises the disdain felt by the higher echelons of Labour toward the working classes and their distasteful off-message opinions. And this is a class issue; let’s be honest, you would have to search further than Kent to find any member of the middle classes who would hang a flag of St George flag from their bedroom window.
In a way, it would have been better for Labour if Ms Thornberry had been caught guffawing about the dreadful poor in private, forcing a grovelling apology. At least, then, your average Labour supporter could single her out as a bad egg and the rest of the party could express faux outrage and praise the common man.
As it is, Thornberry’s decision to tweet this picture, ridiculing the patriotism of an unknown Rochester native, uncaptioned to her 13 thousand followers, implies a truly felt belief that her cultural snobbery is shared by all. It says a lot about the state of Labour when one of their top MPs just assumes that their own disdain for the working class is felt by the Twitterati at large.
I have a little sympathy for the hapless Member in so far as I would probably have tweeted something similar had I chanced upon this little gem of bad taste myself. However, I am a snob. Aesthetic, rather than cultural – I have no problem with outwardly exhibited patriotic tendencies, I just cannot abide new builds and one flag would suffice. More to the point, I am also not a Labour MP representing a party that flounders in the polls because the public feel so very disengaged.
I’m glad UKIP won yesterday’s by-election, just as I hope Labour lose next year’s General Election. Realistically, neither result will make a huge difference to my day to day life, but UKIP’s continued success battles against exactly this sort of arrogance from politicians who should know better. This can only be a good thing.