Shadow Attorney General, human rights barrister and Kings Cross MP resigns after taking the mickey out of someone’s house

In a moment of high bathos this evening Emily Thornberry MP for Islington South was apparently sacked from her front bench role, for which she was highly qualified after tweeting a photo of a builders house in Kent extensively draped in St George flags, a phenomenon that apparently she hadn’t seen before.

I am at loss for words at so many levels.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
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7 Responses to Shadow Attorney General, human rights barrister and Kings Cross MP resigns after taking the mickey out of someone’s house

  1. We know what she was getting at, and castigating her for implying that the cross of St. George is used by racists and nationalists, in the same way as the swastika, is not wrong. Remember how BNP supporters were always frantically displaying and waving the cross of St. George? It shows how nervous the Labour front bench now is about losing the votes of the “loads a money” lumpenproletariat who vote for UKIP. Shame on them.

  2. Sophie Talbot says:

    I’m from Kent, worked in Rochester as a late teen and had a boyfriend in Strood at the time. I now live in Emily’s constituency with my partner, a builder who drives a white van. I am hoping Emily was pushed as I do respect much of what she has done including having a sound voting record. If she was pushed it shows the stupidity of the Labour leadership. If she actually resigned without being pushed it makes her look daft, which she clearly isn’t. This is madness. Kent does have a large population of racists which I, being mixed race, suffered at the hands of in the 70s and it hasn’t changed as I am often reminded when I visit. Her tweet certainly echos my feelings about Rochester and Strood right now although I’d have put it much more stridently. What idiot thinks having her resign over what was a very mild tweet about feeling powerless in the face of racism is a good idea???

  3. Very good news. Please do not try to downplay this disgusting prejudice from our MP. She’s shown her vile ignorance and disdain towards the people of this country. A shame on Islington and an embarrassment. Hopefully she corrects her prejudice.

  4. It is not “disgusting prejudice” to condemn the attitude of those who, as she tried to point out, use the flag of England to proclaim their racism and hatred of “foreigners” like me, being one of the targets of Malkie McKay’s comments. I am just the sort of person that the white van man with the three crosses of St. George would like to get rid of. He is advertising the fact that, if there had been a BNP candidate at Rochester and Strood, he would have voted for him.

  5. Albert Beale says:

    From: Albert Beale, 5 Cally Road
    I don’t have especially strong views on Emily Thornberry as an MP – at least I don’t disagree with her politics more than I do with most MPs’ politics!
    But when it comes to national flags, then as a pacifist I find any such display extremely distasteful.
    For me, it’s not a matter of national(ist) imagery being (mis)used for bad purposes; I find all nationalist imagery like flags inherently objectionable. I don’t think there are such things as “good nationalism” and “bad nationalism” – all such primitive, tribal sentiments take us away from the sort of world I want to see.
    Anyone who thinks it a good idea to wave national flags around is someone with whom I have profound philosophical disagreements, and I don’t believe it wrong or offensive to express my disagreement with people I disagree with!
    If people are going to stand for elected office, then inevitably they’re going to disagree (over many things) with many of the people whose votes they want; it can’t be any other way. If people like MPs or would-be MPs, every time their view on something is unpopular with some people, apologise or say they didn’t mean it, then no wonder MPs are held in such disregard. At least with honest disagreements you know where you are, which can sometimes be a basis for mutual respect.

  6. Philip Carr says:

    I have to disagree with my wife (josephinebacon, who posted earlier in this thread).
    By way of explanation for her tweet, Emily Thornberry told the Islington Tribunal that “I think there’s a lot of trouble-makers out there. I’ve never seen a house with so many England flags draped outside”.

    This discloses the defamatory intent of her tweet, though fortunately it is possible it has backfired and worsened public opinion of her rather than of the individual whom she mocked.

    I agree that Ms Thornberry’s tweet was objectionable on three counts:

    1. Somebody with her particular professional pedigree ought to be both protective of people’s rights of expression (whether through the use of symbols like flags or otherwise), even if one feels that the expression doesn’t reach one’s own pristine heights of proper taste. Furthermore, such a person must surely be expected to know that defamation—even in a broader sense than the legal one—is not something to trifle with. These failures cast doubt on her continued suitability for her specific roles in office.

    2. There is a long tradition of satire. When it singles out any individuals, it is customary for these to be those with power or privilege, who essentially consent to this as something that comes with the job. Members of the public, who have not sought critique nor put themself in office in a way that makes them answerable to the public, should not be targeted for ridicule by those in power. It is a grotesque and novel development which ought not to progress.

    3. It is irresponsible to reinforce the notion that the conspicuous display of flags are a proxy for racist expression and that the displayer is fair game for public ridicule. Such a notion risks making British and English cultural symbols the exclusive property of racists. This has two negative consequences: first, it furnishes racists with extremely valuable symbols at the expense of everybody else; and second it risks alienating those who feel pride about their culture and its symbols who aren’t all “trouble-makers”, to quote Ms Thornberry’s explanation that she made once she’d had time to reflect on the aftermath of her tweet and to choose her words.

    • I stand by what I wrote. The press have adopted a uniformly hostile attitude to her tweet, because they are now afraid of UKIP which could dislodge their beloved tories from government at the next election, so anything they can do to smear Labour is welcome. If people cannot understand Thornberry’s inference (which perhaps should have been made clearer) and how the use of the St. George flag (you notice it was not the union jack) has become a sign of identification with the extreme right, coupled with the white van (as in “loadsa money”). I feel that the way that Labour Party officials turned on her is a sign of their perception of their vulnerability in view of the unpopularity of Ed Milliband.

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