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Emily Thornberry apologises for Rochester tweet

20 November 2014

7:01 PM

20 November 2014

7:01 PM

Update: Emily Thornberry has stepped down as the Shadow Attorney General. More to follow…

After being given a dressing-down by Ed Miliband, Islington MP Emily Thornberry has apologised for tweeting a picture from the Rochester by-election seen as a sneer at patriotic White Van Men:

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 16.48.11

Ed Miliband’s aides assure the Daily Mirror that he’s livid. Jason Beattie, political editor of the paper, says:-

She is now grovelling:-

‘I apologise for any offence caused by the 3 flag picture. People should fly the England flag with pride.’

But before she sent the apology, though, Thornberry was telling the Guardian’s Rowena Mason that she was the victim of prejudice – and that her critics were trying to ‘promote a somewhat prejudiced attitude towards Islington’. Result: even now, the row is escalating into a wider, more lethal row about Posh Londoner Miliband’s attitude to the working class.

Yes, Guido has been on Thornberry’s case. But this is as nothing compared to Anne Perkins of the Guardian:

It may be the most devastating message Labour has managed to deliver in the past four years. It’s already being described as the party’s “47%” moment – a reference to the observation that nailed shut the lid on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, when he dismissed the 47% of American voters who wouldn’t ever back the Republicans.

So much for Labour’s fight for hearts and minds. So much for this week’s efforts by shadow cabinet members like Yvette Cooper and Rachel Reeves, launching policy initiatives tailored to persuade these voters, and millions of others like them, that Labour feels their pain.

One click, just one click, that’s all it takes. Ed Miliband’s Labour is once again the party of the metropolitan elite.

All this does make it much more difficult for Labour to argue that its coming failure in Rochester is down to its wisely refusing not to waste resources into a seat where it was always going to come third. Thornberry’s three-word tweet had an incendiary affect because it as opened Labour up to the charge of being too posh, too remote, too Oxford/Primrose Hill to understand a place even like Rochester – which is just a 45-minute train journey away from Victoria Station.

And those on the left who think Miliband’s Labour is too posh are using Thornberry’s tweet to prove their point. So the scene is set: Ukip will probably win tomorrow but the biggest loser will be Ed Miliband. The postmortem of tomorrow’s result will include an examination of Labour’s attitude towards the working class voters.

UPDATE: The van is owed by a Sun reader, apparently:-

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