Week 47: Prat – Emily Thornberry MP

by Jackie_South on November 23, 2014

StGeorge_PratThis week, our panel have bestowed our Prat of the Week award on the Member of Parliament for Islington South and Finsbury

I’m not sure why a house displaying St George’s flags particularly deserves comment: it is a pretty common occurrence in my part of the capital and indeed much of East and South London. If anything, the households showing them are more likely to vote Labour than for any other party: even the secretary of my local Labour Party branch has a St George’s flag in his window. My local (Labour-run) council office flies one from its roof too.

Whilst many might once have viewed the flag with the suspicion that they portray far-right sympathies, that has not really been the case for many years now. As Billy Bragg urged 24 years ago, the flag has pretty much now been reclaimed by the sensible and flying it should not draw any more criticism than a Frenchman proudly flying the Tricolour or the Stars and Stripes on the corner of an American house.

Emily Thornberry’s tweet on Thursday, the very day of the Rochester and Strood by-election, was not only stupid and condescending, it was deeply damaging.

Despite comments made to defend her, it did not say much about the by-election: the man who lived there did not even vote on Thursday. What it did do was to re-enforce a suspicion held by many that the Labour Party is run by out-of-touch, elitist, overly-politically-correct, North Londoners. All that was left to debate was whether it was being a North Londoner or an MP that led her to be so condescending.

It was the tweet of a party that seems more willing to wag the finger than actually bother addressing the economic issues that have not figured seriously in the party’s policies since her erstwhile neighbour Tony Blair was leader.

That is why Miliband had to sack her – someone who might have been thought to be close to her in background and outlook. That closeness was precisely why he had to act fast, not doing so would have allowed that tweet to look like the covert view of him and the party. Better for Miliband to get bad front-pages on Friday than to have the drip, drip, drip of poisonous doubt for months to come. Of course he went a little over the top in stating his respect for people flying the flag, but he had to: be needed to do everything to create distance from Thornberry’s idiocy.

She did not go easy – she initially refused to apologise, which helped make up Miliband’s mind. As did the many phone furious calls he received from outraged MPs who realised how damaging the tweet could be.

Some commentators have leaped to her defence: did she not grow up on a council estate (yes, but she is the daughter of an academic who became Assistant General Secretary of the United Nations and is married to a judge, hardly the life of a typical council tenant) and the usually sensible Marina Hyde said that “because people thought they knew what Ms Thornberry meant they were guilty of the same snobbery (Really? By the same token, that makes a racist out of anyone who understands how offensive some of Top Gear’s ‘jokes’ are).

Oh, and she even managed to misplace her “image from Rochester” – it was in fact taken in Strood.

Thornberry thoroughly deserved her sacking. She is a sanctimonious prat. I can only hope that Miliband’s uncharacteristically quick response in binning her was enough to halt any long-term damage to the party.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth November 24, 2014 at 8:06 am

Well, that can’t have been too hard a choice, can it?

One little beef, though. Flying the Cross of St George is not the same as “a Frenchman proudly flying the Tricolour or the Stars and Stripes on the corner of an American house”. To do that you would need to fly the Union Jack. Hint for fact-check: what flag do our troops fight under?

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Jackie_South November 24, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Interesting point, although I think the pertinent point here is probably which flag the national team plays for. 20 years ago, it was pretty rare to see St George’s flags – even the far right used the Union Jack. Back then, the English flag then seemed to be the preserve of rural churches.

The change happened with the 1996 European football final (hosted by England) – since then, the St George’s flag has edged out the Union Jack. The far right, of course, still prefer the latter.

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nino November 24, 2014 at 11:53 pm

So the English Defence League is a figment of my imagination? And of course football is a paragon pf pc thinking as shown at the recent England Scotland game. No doubt these devotees of St George know very well that he hails from Capadoccia in modern day Turkey and didn’t fight alongside Laurence Olivier or Mark Rylance at Agincourt and are regular churchgoers.
The only prattish thing she did was to falsify the location. The real prats are elsewhere.

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