Emily Thornberry resigns over tweet

Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry has resigned from the front bench over a tweet from Rochester which shows, at best, a gulf of understanding between the Labour front bench and working class “white van man”.

I must apologise to whoever drives this van and lives in this house that we are all jumping to conclusions about who you are and what you represent. For all we know you could be a middle class black woman who votes for the Green Party.

Both of my brothers have been white van men at one time or another, and none of us fit completely into any of the social classes as far as they exist. (We are largely middle class obviously.)

It is interesting how a tweet that says literally nothing about anyone can be understood to be a slur against a large number of voters. Many no doubt will shrug their shoulders and dismiss this as a media witch hunt. But we have to ask why would you tweet this? Surly the act of tweeting is saying that this is not normal, it is not part of my familiar world, it is a strangeness of UKIP-town. It says that Emily Thornberry is disconnected from somebody who works for a living, lives in only 1, normal, house, and perhaps might be a supporter of the England football team or a racist. (The sort of person you are likely to meet knocking on any door in the country.)

Nothing like this can be found in Islington, which is all champagne socialism as we all know. Er …

… there are a number of these …

Just a gaffe? Yes. But gaffes can reveal deeper truths. The mask has slipped. I like to think Liberal Democrats don’t leap to judgements about people so readily, but it is something we have to prove. And as for the Conservatives – if one of them had done this it would be plebgate and Lord Freud all over again – another final proof that they are out of touch elite snobs. How many of the people who would have repeated that will apply the same standard to Labour?

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017 and Doncaster North in December 2019 and is a councillor in Sheffield.

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  • Turned out the occupant of the house was a burly, crop-cut, heavily tattooed builder! But I would counsel many in our party to be very cautious about pillorying Emily Thornberry, as I detect exactly the same metropolitan liberal sneeriness about perfectly ordinary people who don’t happen to be youngish graduates living in London, and the concerns the have and find expression for in voting not for us but for UKIP in our Party too. If we sneer and mock (UKIP Cookbook, anyone? Tee-hee-hee!) rather than trying to find out what makes people tick, work out how a liberal agenda can appeal to them and framing policies around these rather than beltway-centric NGO-driven niche agendas, there’l be plenty more Rochesters ahead.

  • @joe Otten

    Do you not think you are being just as disrespectful as other media outlets by publishing a photo that shows the number plate of the van.
    Yes it is already out there in the public domain for all to see, however, I would have liked to see this sight at least setting an example to others to respect people’s right to privacy and blurred out the number plate

  • Thornberry’s tweet was a mistake. Miliband sacking her was a bigger mistake.

    What Labour should have said was “We’re relaxed about this. Emily went a bit snap-happy and took a dramatic picture she thought was worth seeing, that’s all. It was a tactical mistake, because she didn’t think about how our enemies would use it to misrepresent us. But she’s apologised for the mistake and the matter is now closed.”

    What Labour actually did amounted to “We’re panicking about this, because it shows us in our true colours. So never mind the loss of our legal expertise, we’ll have to noisily chuck one Islington socialist overboard, in the hope that will fool the voters and save our ship”.

    Mind you, Labour are not the only party who too often live in the past…

  • Thornberry’s tweet was a mistake. Miliband sacking her was a bigger mistake.

    What Labour should have said was “We’re relaxed about this. Emily went a bit snap-happy and took a dramatic picture she thought was worth seeing, that’s all. It was a tactical mistake, because she didn’t think about how our enemies would use it to misrepresent us. But she’s apologised for the mistake and the matter is now closed.”

    What Labour actually did was equivalent to saying “We’re panicking about this, because it shows us in our true colours. So, never mind the loss of our legal expertise, we’ll have to throw one Islington socialist overboard, in the hope that will appease the voters and save our ship”.

    Mind you, Labour are not the only party who too often live in the past…

  • Helen Tedcastle 21st Nov '14 - 12:50pm

    I don’t think the controversy over Thornberry’s tweet is about white vans as such but the motivations of an Islington-Labour MP in tweeting a picture of someone’s house in Rochester.

    It is obvious that Thornberry was casting aspersions and sneering at what she considers to be the identity-badges of a UKIP supporter – St. Georges flags, white van, modest house… – typical of someone not thinking before they use social media and revealing their underlying attitudes.

    However, these ‘types’ never voted socialist – even champagne socialist of the Islington variety. They voted for Thatcher and the form of right-wing authoritarian-centrism championed by Blair.

    Miliband’s Labour and middle class politicos in general may be having a meltdown over this but the real indictment is on Cameron. He cannot reach these people.

    Miliband would be better spending his time trying to win back his core vote in Scotland and the north. Rochester was always highly marginal.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Nov '14 - 12:54pm

    I thought it was daft, but she shouldn’t have resigned over it. Some of the people running to Emily Thornberry’s defence were worse. I counted at least three people call him a racist. The conclusions that some people jump to are astonishing.

  • @Joe Otten
    “Matt, I’ve embedded the orginal tweet which is still up and heavily retweeted. ”

    That doesn’t make it right. Maybe the right thing to do would have been to take the time and effort to download the image, blur out the number plate and then post.

    Personally I think it is right that Emily Thornberry has resigned / sacked. Not because of the reasons given by Labour and Milliband, but because this action was a complete lack of respect for the privacy of the person who owns the property and the “White Van”
    I would be furious if a member of parliament deliberately took a photo of my home and my vehicle and posted it on the Internet for all to see. Quite frankly I am surprised that someone with her so called legal expertise would do something so utterly foolish.
    (That’s what people should be so outraged about, her complete lack of other respect to peoples privacy)
    Just because someone flies an English Flag from their home does not make them fair game and to have their rights to privacy to be abused like this.

  • David Evans 21st Nov '14 - 1:41pm

    Am I alone in being appalled by the reaction to this tweet. It seems we now have the equivalent of the lynch mob out there looking for someone to turn on and destroy, and it seems Ed Milliband has been stampeded into “doing something.” It’s all a bit like Pontius Pilate who let the mob decide Jesus fate.

    Joe, who amongst us all knows what Emily Thornberry was meaning when she sent this tweet? Saying “Surly the act of tweeting is saying that this is not normal, it is not part of my familiar world, it is a strangeness of UKIP-town. It says that Emily Thornberry is disconnected from somebody who works for a living, lives in only 1, normal, house, and perhaps might be a supporter of the England football team or a racist. (The sort of person you are likely to meet knocking on any door in the country.)” is sadly an example of jumping onto a bandwagon by putting your own personal spin on something you do not know.

    You say it says “Emily Thornberry is disconnected from somebody who works for a living, lives in only 1, normal, house, and perhaps might be a supporter of the England football team or a racist.” To me that is an appalling thing to say. It could say “This shows what we (the Labour party) are up against, a community that voted Labour throughout the Blair years is now a totally alien world for us. What have we done wrong and what do we need to do to reconnect?” It could be meant to say many other things. Joe, do you know? I certainly don’t – apparently there was not text at all attached.

    At the end you say “I like to think Liberal Democrats don’t leap to judgements about people so readily, but it is something we have to prove.” It seems to me you have leaped to judgement, but perhaps I have misinterpreted your words. So if you have a different point to make, just let me know and if so I will accept I was mistaken.

  • A day or so ago Steve Comer wrote this comment about Twitter in LDV.

    Steve Comer 20th Nov ’14 – 1:40am
    This is why I loathe Twitter!
    Its full members of the political class talking to each other and having rows based on statements confined by the 140 character limit, that are open to (mis)interpretation.

    Steve was right.

    I am a always happy to congratulate the volunteers of LDV for doing what I regard as a valuable service in providing an opportunity to discuss things here. LDV provides an opportunity for something like a serious discussion .

    However some of the LDV volunteers (certainly not all) get a bit carried away with their mini-celebrity status. They seem to think that the trivial rubbish they indulge in on Twitter has some political significance over and above a random idle gossip with a drunk in the laundrette.

    This sort of stuff does not impress anyone outside their own tiny Twittering circle.
    When will they realise it is trivial, trivialising, demeaning and more often than not utter rubbish?

  • matt (Bristol) 21st Nov '14 - 2:11pm

    The tweet as sent does not appear to have direct content that appears on the face of it to offensive or patronising, but it should (again) warn all concerned against political bodies and individuals simply retweeting or blogging images with minimal comment or content.

    Where an aggressive and bullish spin and hype machine such as possessed by the SNP or UKIP gets to work and decides and disseminates that X action is symbolic of X slur or insult (ie that burning Salmond in effigy is an insult to Sottish people, or that retweeting an image of St George flag is sneering at the English working class), you will not easily prove that you meant no ill intent, and should you give any apology for what was inadvertent offence will be sucked into the spine machine and held out as proof that you meant what they said you mean.

    If Emily Thornberry did indeed mean what UKIP has decided she meant and Ed Milliband has apparently confirmed he has decided she meant (by sacking her), she is very, very stupid.

    I do hate Twitter.

    BTW, there are lots of houses like that in South Bristol, where I live. It’s not for me, but it is normal and unremarkable.

  • matt (Bristol) 21st Nov '14 - 2:27pm

    “This kind of politics is like Sauron’s one ring. It is powerful but it inevitably corrupts you.”

    Ah, I agree with that (with regard to ‘us against them’ politics). But is that not also true of soundbite / twitterbite politics?

  • “I will continue to fly my flags. I know there is a lot of ethnic minorities that don’ t like it. ”


    What a lovely non racist man he is. ( irony)

  • This is just Tory Party/Tory Press deflection. more of their patented “we lost the seat, but the real losers are” spin. Labour have not lost a single seat to UKIP. Not even the Police Commissioner in Rochdale. Labour’s mistake was to over react.

  • @Paul Walter

    Thank you Paul, that exactly the point I was trying to make.

    I would have expected to read more of that especially here on LDV, but it seemed to have escaped most peoples grasp.
    This jumping to conclusions on what she meant or did not mean by her tweet and photograph to me is totally irrelevant.
    I am appalled that an elected representative could think it was in anyway acceptable to take this photograph without seeking consent of the home owner.

  • David Evans 21st Nov '14 - 3:03pm

    I totally agree with Paul Walter’s point.

  • Joe Otten
    I have now looked up “Sauron’s ring” in Wikipedia and have discovered that it is some Tolkien elf nonsense.

    I could have reacted by saying — “Typical, middle class Liberal Democrat twerp making reference to fictional elves”.
    And he does this in the context of understanding the working class!!

    Incidentally nobody in any of the discussions of this nonsense in LDV, on the Daily Politics or anywhere else in the media seems to have noticed that one of the three flags in the photograph is actually a West Ham flag.

    For Joe Otten’s benefit I should perhaps point out that the working class supporters of West Ham that I know never turn up at a match to chant about Tolkien or Sauron’s ring.

    Do you see how contrived and ridiculous such discussions can become, Joe?

  • Paul in Wokingham 21st Nov '14 - 3:23pm

    I have often wondered about Ms aThornberry’s judgment. I recall that during the 2005 GE campaign she knocked on my door and asked if I would be voting for her, apparently unaware or unperturbed that the other occupant of the property – my partner – was the executive member for resources in the Lib Dem group running the council. And I agree that the subtext of the tweet is clearly a quiet supercilious chortle at the stereotypical white van man.

  • Gwyn Williams 21st Nov '14 - 3:33pm

    Is Emily Thornberry the most senior politician to resign over a tweet? Do we need a new political mantra, a bit like the old Green cross code. Before tweeting, think once, think twice and think again. If there are no political traps then tweet.

  • Paul Walterk
    (interesting name change which I assume is not entirely deliberate?)

    You are right I was not saying that.
    It might however be worth remembering what Tolkien’s academic contemporaries who were anything but working class used to say about his books — “Not more bloody elves!”.
    Nobody could accuse them of being inverted.

    I should explain that I was not there when they said it; I learned about it from an episode of ‘Lewis’.

  • paul barker 21st Nov '14 - 4:30pm

    The proof of this incidents importance is the way its gone viral, lots of people are talking about it .
    The point is that Labour have increasingly abandoned ideas & replaced them with naked Class prejudice – “Tory Toffs” etc. Thornberry has been monstered for being seen as having expressed the wrong prejudice, the wrong snobbery. Plenty of people are now trying to look down on her for being from the wrong Class & for living in the wrong North London Borough.
    Several Labour posters have even got into ridiculous Pythonesque arguments over Thornberrys Class credentials, defending or attacking her on the basis of what her Parents did when she was a child.

  • Stephen Donnelly 21st Nov '14 - 5:38pm

    I suggest a three dodgy tweets before you are out policy. I don’t believe someone should resign for one comment, we should tolerate mistakes.

    Dave Whelan should also benefit from this policy.

  • Tsar Nicolas 21st Nov '14 - 6:52pm

    @Colin W

    ” “I will continue to fly my flags. I know there is a lot of ethnic minorities that don’ t like it. ”

    What a lovely non racist man he is. ( irony)”

    You missed out a vital third sentence, which is that these flags have been up since the world cup. In my view, if a person lives in this country he/she is entitled to fly the national flag and doing so in the face of disapproval from others does not make him/her a racist.

    A Sun journalist was interviewed on the BBC overnight by-election coverage. It turns out that the couple who live at the house were not aware of there being a by-election on yesterday and had not voted by 7pm in the evening.

    They had voted Conservative in 2010 but had supported Labour in 2005 and previously.

    I think the tweet was a mistake. Sacking/resigning was an even bigger mistake – a complete overreaction but I love the delicious irony of Emily Thornberry being the viciim of her own liberal totalitarianism.

  • “It’s identity is defined by working class representation by working class people, yet in reality those people are all middle class.”

    You mean working class people like the ones in Islington who vote for a Labour MP? You’re decades out of date.

    As far as criticism of the original tweet goes, I think that only those who have never sneered at a house festooned with English flags should be throwing stones.

  • Jayne Mansfield 21st Nov '14 - 8:17pm

    It is for the viewer to put their own interpretation on what the photograph with one word, Rochester means to them.

    Does the fact that so many seem to infer that it someone might have taken it for snobbish motives suggest that there is a great deal of projection going on?

    Personally, I would have waited until the van had been driven off. I would have preferred the juxtaposition of the English flags and the columns with the Doric capitals.

    It is for the viewer to interpret what associations they conjure up and where their thoughts take them. . The only person who can tell us what the juxtaposition of multiple English flags and a white van meant for her, is Emily Thornberrry and she has not said.

    A storm in a tea cup that has been badly handled by jittery politicians..

  • nvelope2003 21st Nov '14 - 9:02pm

    Almost everyone knows what Miss Thornberry meant and the comments of her colleagues makes this clear.

  • @Paul from Wokingham: Sally and John Bercow seemed fine to vote for different parties!

    What we’re seeing is a complete failure of the left and centre-left, including ourselves to a point, to effectively combat the poison that racists have been injecting into the English cultural identity for decades. Instead of making the liberal or socialist cases for immigration and welfare, Labour seem perfectly fine to chase UKIP policies. The reaction over Thornberry, Cooper saying that “it’s not racist to be worried about immigration”… Labour are sleepwalking into racist reactionaryism. Their transformation into where the Tories were ten years ago seems to be now complete.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s not hard to make the liberal case. People instinctively look out for their common neighbour. Take Abu Qatada, for example: people will spout the Sun’s line to begin with, but if you start talking to them, they’ll also agree that it’s not right to send a man to be tortured or send a man to his death.

    But sadly, we’re seeing the right-wing poison everyone’s minds to continue their strategy of divide and conquer. And even we, as Lib Dems, must shoulder some of the blame. Successive leaderships of our party have been letting ourselves be defined by the other two parties for far too long, but now more than ever is the time to let the liberal voice ring true and the liberal standard fly high.

  • Tony Dawson 22nd Nov '14 - 7:24am

    “Don’t panic Cap’n Miliband! Don’t panic!”

    “I already have, Corporal Jones.” 🙁

    NB. The entire media squabble about this issue has been massively sexist. Has no journalist in Britain ever seen a ‘White Van Woman”?

  • Personally when I see a white van, I brace myself for the inevitable barrage of sexist catcalling and requests to perform sexual acts on the occupants. This is not me making assumptions about white van man. This is how I have learned white van man tends to behave.

    * shrug *

    I also have to say that if I were canvassing that house I wouldn’t make an assumption about the party the occupant votes for but I WOULD brace myself for possible racism, and given the comments this man had made in the media I would not be wrong to do so.

    Yes it was daft of Emily T to post the tweet without obscuring the numberplate, but other than that I don’t think she has done anything wrong, although I take your point, Joe, that it’s embarrassing for labour to have it seem that they don’t REALLY pander to their skinhead, sexist, racist “working class” support base

  • White van aside, there was a football match recently. Near me, in Plymouth there are still a few houses with English and a lesser number with Scottish flags on show. The fact a politician did not seem to consider this shows the remoteness of the them from the rest of us……

  • Jayne Mansfield 22nd Nov '14 - 10:00am

    I am not sure how much more one can dumb down and trivialise politics. I am more interested in the fact that UKIP’s immigration policy ( whatever it is) seems to be both ugly and incoherent. What did Mark Reckless mean by his comments about looking favourably on some immigrants who were already in the country?

    Both Douglas Carswell (who failed to endorse the view that people with HIV should be being banned from entering the country) and Reckless on his comments about what would happen to immigrants already in the country are more important to most people) than whether a chap has flags outside his house to publicly proclaim his allegiance and then gets upset when the public notices and remarks on it.

    I wonder what his neighbours think.

  • So far 38 comments on this thread by only one on the thread which provides a link to a serious report on poverty and need.   
    The Independent View: Save our safety net
    By Megan Jarvie | Thu 20th November 2014 – 11:54 am


    The report includes a number of case studies of real in 2014,  of what happens to working class people who fall on hard times.

    Is this perhaps something we should be devoting time to rather than this nonsense of Twitter?   —

    Mr F failed his work capability assessment for Employment and Support Allowance and had requested a mandatory reconsideration (an internal reconsideration of a JCP decision. For the duration of the reconsideration, the client is unable to lodge a formal appeal). During the time DWP had taken to process the reconsideration the claimant had been left with no income.

    He is a cancer sufferer and stated in his application that he had not had any food or electricity for five days.

    We awarded him vouchers and cash for food and fuel, and also added in awards for travel, as he had to travel back and forth from the hospital for his cancer treatment.

    Support was given for up to 14 days, until his ESA appeal was decided. Awarding him with assistance to buy food and fuel meant that the risk to the claimant’s health, and life, have been minimised, and he was able to support himself until his appeal had been decided.

    No other state support would have been available to him other than local welfare provision and his illness would most likely have caused him to present to acute health or social care services.

  • So Ed Miliband was so angry he was furious. I wonder who told him he was, and whether they told him why. Apparently it took 2 meetings between Miliband and Thornberry to get to resignation. Clearly it needs 2 meetings to decide whether you are furious enough. The “victim” votes Tory and deliberately winds up ethnic minorities. I don’t think the lost Labour any votes, and it’s Cameron who should be embarrassed, by his supporters.

  • @Sarah Noble
    “Cooper saying that ‘it’s not racist to be worried about immigration’… Labour are sleepwalking into racist reactionaryism”

    Would you prefer it if Cooper had said that it IS racist to be worried about immigration? But if it is racist, how on earth do you explain the fact that the majority of people from ethnic minorities want to see immigration reduced?


    There are two things that poison the immigration debate, to a point where a thoughtful, civilised discussion is actually impossible to have. One is the presence of racism. The other is unwarranted accusations of racism against people who are not racist.

  • A Social Liberal 22nd Nov '14 - 1:57pm

    No Stuart, it isn’t necessarily bigoted to talk about immigration. Where it is bigoted is to carry on repeating lies and untruths in order to further an anti immigrant agenda. Where it is bigoted is to create a policy which is designed purely to put off a certain class of immigrant – a policy which is quite possibly illegal.

  • @Stuart: I’m only 23 and I remember that the Tories ran billboards saying that exact same statement in 2005. Their immigration policy that election was incredibly racist.

  • Tony Greaves 22nd Nov '14 - 9:09pm

    I just shake my head in wonder…

    (1) Politicians and Twitter do not mix. In my opinion any prominent politician who posts on Twitter is a,,,er,,a stupid Twit. And anyone who tries to use irony on Twitter, as she may have been doing, does not understand the medium.

    (2) Ms. Thornberry’s constituency consists of lots of (now mainly) posh streets, and lots of council estates. Is she saying she has never seen St George flags draped over houses and flats in those estates – or does she never go there?

    (3) How could the Labour leadership imagine that anyone who drapes their house with St George flags and drives a white van is a typical “working class Labour voter”? In my experience (from canvassing and running local elections) such a household is not likely to vote, (and if they do, not likely to vote Labour, at least not in the past ten years).

    (4) It is quite likely that the main complainants if anyone drapes their house with flags like this for months at a time (rather than a few days before an important England game) may be other people living in the street. The idea that the flag-drapers are typical of an area is just silly.


  • Stephen Hesketh 22nd Nov '14 - 9:42pm

    Tony Greaves 22nd Nov ’14 – 9:09pm

    I just nod my head in agreement!

  • I find most of the comments unbelievable. A white van normally means a self employed person. England flags mean the occupant is keen on football. There are plenty of them about so I am surprised Ms Thornberry has not noticed them before. She meant something by it and most ordinary people know exactly what she meant and so did Ed Milliband and John Mann. You should have heard the comments made by her working class constituents on last night’s BBC World Tonight. If they are anything to go by she will not be re-elected. Hers is the sort of attitude that is leading to the rise of UKIP and the disconnection of ordinary people from politicians of the Labour Party. Even during the 2005 election I was told by workers that they were not going to vote because the leaders had no idea what life was like for them and despised the so called elite. Maybe they were wrong but if the result of the recent by elections are anything to go by their views need to be considered at least and certainly not ridiculed.

  • I thought Milliband’s reaction was very unconvincing . He knew that what his colleague had done was outrageous but it was not outrageous to him until someone had explained it to him. No wonder the voters do not like him.

  • Tsar Nicolas 22nd Nov '14 - 10:23pm

    While I have gotten a great deal of enjoyment out of the Emily Thornberry saga, I am deeply uncomfortable about this ‘we know what she meant’ stance put around by posters like nvelope2003.

    I certainly didn’t know what she meant, until the fuss and reaction began. “We know what you meant” sounds very close to what a Soviet judge might have said to a person before sentencing them to 10 years’ hard labour in the Gulag, and I am deeply unhappy about going down this route.

    One thing about Ms Thornberry – if I recall correctly, it was she who went along to the postal votes verification/opening at her own constituency in 2010 and tweeted out some information. That would have probably got someone like me into a very unpleasant conversation with Mr Plod down the police station, but apparently Emily is above all that, due to her legal connections.

  • Tsar Nicholas, we all knew what she meant because we all feel what we think she meant. The reason she should have resigned is that she either failed to realise that the photo was obviously going to initiate the pious holier than thou brigade (or “the Internet”) into a frenzy of negative comment, or, she genuinely does not understand that we middle classes and most of our working class colleagues do sneer at such displays and so has shown herself to be completely out of touch with us. Even the man whose house she photographed called her a snob for simply photographing his house making it clear that he himself sees an image of his own house as something to sneer about.

  • Tsar Nicolas 23rd Nov '14 - 5:35am


    “Even during the 2005 election I was told by workers that they were not going to vote ”

    Mmm. What do you mean by workers? Your domestic staff? The people on the railways? you sound very patronising, if I may say so. In fact, it sounds a little like a word I can imagine Emily Thornberry using. Quite frankly, I do not think I ever use the term ‘workers.’

  • What a bunch of baloney.

    As I said in previous posts, it has nothing to do with what she did or did not mean by her tweet of the house and van. nobody can speculate what she truly meant as no words accompanied the tweet .
    The only real issue was as far as I am concerned was the breech of someones privacy which a shadow attorney general should have known better,
    To accuse Miliband of dithering on the matter is ludicrous. Within hours of the incident she was sacked from her post.

    How long have Tories clung on to posts after controversy? days sometimes week before finally stepping down.
    As Liberal Democrats , How long did Mike Hancock remain in the party? and the dithering over Renard among others.
    I do not think Liberal Democrats should be throwing stones on this matter when so many of their own mp’s are sitting in glass houses .

    I was really angry about the Emily Thornberry action, but I can not fault the party for their swift reaction.

  • And whatever you say about Miliband, at least he is leading his party from the front. He has not been afraid to talk about the recent election results and what Labour needs to do to reconnect with its voters.
    The same can not be said for Nick Clegg who has gone all Armadillo for days now, curled up in a small ball somewhere covering his soft belly. No words of encouragement to its members or activists and no explanation to the voters on what went wrong and what he intends to do about it

  • Agree with Matt. For the first time when I saw Milliband talk about reaction to Emily Thornbury tweet I thought I saw some real conviction there. He was to my mind the more credible for it. I really believe people can tell, and will vote for, decisive leadership rooted in integrity rather than a cooked up soup of concern.

  • matt 23rd Nov ’14 – 8:02am
    And whatever you say about Miliband, at least he is leading his party from the front. He has not been afraid to talk about the recent election results and what Labour needs to do to reconnect with its voters.
    The same can not be said for Nick Clegg who has gone all Armadillo for days now…..

    As so often, I agree with Matt.
    Those Liberal Democrats who cannot stop themselves from parroting every last trivial Tory and Murdoch vilification of Miliband seem to be unaware that they cutting their own Liberal Democrat throats.
    Do they really want to spend their time in politics doing the propaganda job of the Tories ?

  • I meant Thornberry!

  • @Geoff Crocker 23rd Nov ’14 – 8:35am
    “It’s nonsense to claim this as a breach of privacy. The house owner was making a deliberate public statement.”

    Making a public statement lol. The guy said himself the flags where put up in support of a England football.
    There was even a football match England V scotland on the 18th November ( 2 days before the election)

    Whenever Scotland plays football my neighbor has the Scottish flag flying from his windows,
    Whenever England plays, Thousands upon Thousands of people have the English flag flying from their homes.

    The only public statement the man with a van was making on this occasion was his Support and Love for Football.

    If you think supporting a football team and flying a flag is making a public statement and therefor makes him fair game to breech his privacy by taking photo’s of his home and his number plate, then you have some pretty wild ideas on when and when not someone has a right to privacy.

    All this speculation on the “meaning” of Emily Thornberry’s Tweet is pure nonsense and political parties trying to score points and cause controversy.
    The only controversy here was that a elected member of parliament and a shadow attorney general thought it was acceptable to take photo’s of someones private property without seeking the permission of the homeowner.
    That was her lack of judgement and that was what she should have been reprimanded and criticized for.

    I am more of a Labour supporter than what I am Liberal Democrat, but when I see wrong doing, I will stick to my moral principles and I will call it out, even if it is against a Labour Politician and I would prefer to see Labour in Government next year.
    I detest partisan politics and people who spin the truth in order to political point score and I am sure most of the public feel this way too.

    If I were you Geoff, I would be far more concerned with your own leader who is playing a good game of where’s wally.
    His actions over or complete lack of them is doing far more damage to your parties prospects

  • @Geoff Crocker

    If you brought a set of curtains from John Lewis, are you making a public statement that you like John Lewis?
    Would that give me the right to take a photo of your home and show the number plate of your car. post it on public media, which resulted in scores of press outside your home for the next 48 hours intruding on your privacy?

    Of course not it’s nonsense, as was the intrusion on this guy for flying a English Flag supporting football

  • Paul In Wokingham 23rd Nov '14 - 9:47am

    So Emily Thornberry’s photo is some sort of Rorschach test dividing people into those who see it as composition and those who regard it as a knowing wink at the semiotics of the flags and the van? Well I fall firmly into the second category.

    It is her judgment that is at issue. Even if the intended message really was just “wow, three flags!” she should have instantly recognized the alternative interpretation and paused before clicking “post”.

    Islington South does not match the media image of luvvies in Georgian townhouses. It contains large areas of deprivation in social housing developments such as the Bemerton Estate: I was always comfortable delivering Focuses there because it resembles the place where I grew up. There are plenty of St. George flags in The Bemerton. It would be interesting to hear how the residents/voters there viewed that image.

  • @Sarah Noble
    I don’t think Yvette Copper’s comments were aimed at defending Tory election posters.

    However the Tory billboard you refer to actually said :-

    “It’s not racist to impose limits on immigration.”

    Which is a message I presume Nick Clegg would agree with, since he said on his radio programme (6th March 2014) :-

    “He [Vince Cable] is not advocating unlimited immigration, of course not, neither would I ever, and we have every right as a country by the way to decide who comes in and out of our country as a Sovereign Nation.”

    Is Clegg racist, saying he wants to impose limits on immigration? Come to think of it, what score would you give the Lib Dems’ 2010 immigration policy on your racist-ometer? As I’m sure you recall, they proposed stopping immigrants from living in the south east because, among other reasons, there wasn’t enough water there for them :-


    Of course there are racists who exploit immigration concerns to further their agenda. That goes without saying, and actually they are usually pretty easy to spot. But on the other hand, there are plenty of liberals who throw the word “racist” around when they know full well that the people they are attacking are not racist. Both are as bad as each other, and both are poisoning the whole debate in the way we see today.

  • nvelope2003 23rd Nov '14 - 1:00pm

    HM Tsar Nicholas : Well I do not have any domestic staff and have to do my own cooking, washing and cleaning except for the outside of the windows which I cannot do as I am old. The workers in question were my colleagues as I was still working then but have now retired. I do not understand your comment about not using the word workers, perhaps I should have said mates but no one else used that term there and there are no workers at my local railway station whenever I use it as it is only staffed early in the morning although a new booking office has been built at a cost of £250,000 which stands locked and unused all day.

    I am happy to say that I was a worker all my life, just trying to earn a living and make a contribution. I am sorry if anyone finds that offensive.

  • Too many references here to the “working class”. This makes me cringe. It’s a phrase that should be consigned to history.

    My dad is not noted for his words of political wisdom but once, when I was a teenage leftie taking him to task for the fact that he (and his father before him) were what some would describe as “working class Tories”, he said something that made a big impression on me. “There’s no such thing as the working class. Almost everybody has to work.”

  • What we have here is a fight for the heart and soul of the mythical working class. The great thing about people who do not write Newspaper columns or appear on Newsnight is that you can project anything you like onto them. What we know is that UKIP are talked up by the mostly public school educated upper middle classes of the press and question time. So let me suggest that thy are erecting a convenient shield so they whinge about Johnny foreigner, whilst pretending they are speaking on behalf of the silent majority.

  • I do not recall mentioning the working class. I said I was a worker because I worked. My parents who grew up in an age when large numbers of wealthy people did no work also said there was no such things as working class as at least most people worked for their living – real work not the sort of pretend jobs that so many seem to do now. Funny old world.

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