When Emily Thornberry collapsed into bed the other week she had just resigned from her post as Shadow Attorney General. She hadn’t expected to when she started the day but by 3.15pm her opposition career had come to a shuddering end. From tweet to resignation, took a little over seven hours.
Little did she know that a quick snap, a picture of a house with three English flags over the entrance and a white van parked in the drive, accompanied by three seemingly innocuous words, “Image from #Rochester”, uploaded onto twitter, would cause such a fuss. What was the offending image? However the faint hint of snobbery was immediately smelt and vilified. Macclesfield UKIP secretary, Frank Fisher saw right through the confusion that had led her followers to comment “is your phone just randomly taking pictures by itself and tweeting them?”
“I wish the revolting snob had posted this yesterday”, lambasted Fisher and the British media dogs. They systematically constructed a story of a ‘wealthy, snobbish’ labour MP, based on her seat in Islington, who mocked an obviously patriotic English citizen. A story so significant it swept aside any mention of the UKIP’s by-election win over the Tories in Rochester and Strood, scoring a very embarrassing own goal.
Someone tweeted another photo originally posted by Thornberry of a similar house, wrapped in English Flags in 2012. Her words back then were, ‘Wow great house in Lidney Rd” filled with no disdain, and yet, this display of an obvious lack of disgust was not enough to put right the wrong. Thornberry apologised for any offence caused, but the damage had already been done. The Conservatives, as should have been expected, rounded on a wounded animal. Eric Pickles, and even the PM, chimed in calling it “completely appalling” and showed that the Labour party was “sneering at people who work hard, are patriotic and love their country”.
Ed, in all his wisdom cowed to the pressure of the media dogs, evidently angry at the media diversion from the Tories’ defeat to UKIP and it was ‘decided’ that Ms Thornberry should subsequently step down. So a victory for democracy, right? Emily, tarred and feathered, stood trial for being a snob, with an act, evidently foolish but nothing compared to the vitriolic attacks that followed. How often do we hear of Conservative MPs blatantly criticising the working classes?
Twitter is not a democracy and neither is the majority of the British press. They run with stories that favour their political agenda, and sell as many copies as they can, as they always have done. The tilt of the mainstream media towards the conservatives has gotten out of control. This story would never have received the same coverage if Thornberry was a Tory. So another female MP loses her position and the media hounds bound away cackling over the remnants of their meal, while we gaze upon the scene with apathy and disgust wondering if the political influence in the hands of the few will ever decrease.