Mark Brophy

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Inverted Snobbery

The resignation of Emily Thornberry as Shadow Attorney General in response to the storm of outrage following her tweeting a picture of a house, some flags, and a van while on the campaign trail in Rochester and Strood has been widely held up as a sign of Labour being in chaos. Labour may be split on whether she should have lost her job, but the papers are universal in their condemnation of her – and Labour’s – contempt for the working classes. Or should I say the papers and the Tories are universal in their condemnation. Thornberry is the MP for Islington which as we all know is the epicentre of metropolitan

thornberrysnobbery and the consensus of all those right-wing papers and politicians in their concern for the working class is that she was “sneering”. I reproduce an image of the offending tweet here.

 

In contrast to the reported sneering, her only caption is “Image from #Rochester”. Which it unquestionably is. In fact, there is so little information in her words it is effectively a blank canvas, which the whole nation has been able to project their own prejudices onto. The sneering hasn’t come from Thornberry but from everyone else. To accuse her of sneering is to believe there’s something there to sneer at. The flags, the van; the common subtext is that this is someone beneath contempt. Maybe the owner of that van is contemptible but it’s hard to tell just by looking at the picture and she didn’t say so.

 

 

So now Labour is in chaos apparently. This only 1 day after the Tories lost a safe seat and the Lib Dems lost their deposit. But our media know which is the story they wish to concentrate on. In today’s Telegraph David Cameron put the boot in unchallenged:

“Emily Thornberry is one of Ed Miliband’s closest allies and aides.

“Effectively what this means is that Ed Miliband’s Labour Party sneers at people who work hard, who are patriotic and love their country. I think that’s completely appalling.”

Let’s just look at the logic behind this and extrapolate it to Mr Cameron’s own party. Forget for a moment that Miliband got Thornberry to resign. It would be reasonable knowing that to think sneering at people who work hard is the last thing Labour approve of. Anyway, by this logic, we could say the entirety of Mr Cameron’s Tory Party is fully behind any of their crackpot utterances which are later disowned. For instance, we could say the Tories all sneer at disabled people and don’t think they are worth paying minimum wage. Though actually, seeing as Lord Freud didn’t get sacked for his faux pas they probably do all think that.

 

Why then did Ed Miliband demand Ms Thornberry’s resignation? I can’t help thinking it’s for putting her head above the parapet. Miliband and Labour know they will be lambasted at every opportunity and the last thing they needed during a by-election was someone giving the papers some material they could use to criticise.

 

Following on from this was a sub-furore when Ed Miliband was asked what he thought when he saw something like Ms Thornberry’s tweet depicted. As part of a longer conversation in which he bemoaned that Ms Thornberry had been disrespectful, he answered in contrast that he felt respect. Pass The Sickbag! How bizarre, they cheeped. He really could not win. What did they expect him to say, “why do those vans all have Ferrari engines in them”? If you are going to trash someone no matter whether they say either of two opposing statements then you aren’t reporting or commenting any more, you’re doing the work of their opponents and by the way subverting the political process while you’re on. No one can make an informed decision if their information is skewed.

 

As if to prove my point the BBC’s Nick Robinson piped up, saying Labour had:

“given the Tory press an alternative narrative…the most extraordinary self-inflicted wound I have seen an opposition party inflict on themselves in many, many years.”

before merrily hammering away on that alternative narrative himself, and in due course inflict some extraordinarily unfair wounding.

 

It becomes clearer every day that our system, our media are rigged. How could anyone look at political events since Thursday morning and conclude that tweet is the main story? They have made it so against all logic and will continue to do Labour down at every opportunity and indeed even when there isn’t one. The political media have become an apparatus of right-wing propaganda. Or is it just that I have only now noticed?

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this. I was completely bemused by the reaction and I have to say horrified by Miliband’s spinelessness. Simply to post the picture – a perfectly reasonable act for someone on doorsteps who will always try to assess the likelihood of being listened to or being effective in changing minds, should not be any kind of offense, let alone a sacking one, unless you argue that the housefolder had a right not to have images of his house spread across the web – a view based on an idea of reticence which would be hard to sustain given the exhibitionism of the flags.
    Incidentally – the flag of St George is NOT a “neutral” patriotic symbol and has not been since the Act of Union. It was largely ressurected in the 90s by right wing groups with a clear aggressive nationalist agenda reflecting what they saw as the perspective of England football supporters. It has become a bit more commonplace now but it is still making a clear political statement of the kind which might well make a Labour canvasser’s heart sink. However the point is that that was not what Thornberry said – she made no comment at all so all the stereotyping and sneering comes from the commentators.

    The whole business is very dispiriting.

    Like

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