Yesterday saw Rochester and Strood vote in a by-election triggered by the defection of Tory MP Mark Reckless to UKIP. During the campaign Labour MP Emily Thornberry a tweet (below) which was immediately pounced upon as being “snobbish”, the reaction to which eventually led to her resignation from the shadow cabinet.
(Reckless was re-elected, this time as UKIP MP, now giving them two. UKIP have responded to this win by saying that Rochester and Strood “voted not for more of the same, but for real change!” even though THEY LITERALLY VOTED FOR MORE OF THE SAME! You couldn’t write this shit. They truly are a “party” of useless, clueless buffoons!)
I have a number of issues with this entire “scandal”, most notably the fact that it really, really isn’t one! I don’t know Thornberry personally, I’m not very familiar with her career or her opinions or her background. I dare say 99% of those complaining about her tweet are in exactly the same boat as me; she was – sorry, Em – nobody, really. So how, then, did anyone know that her tweet was meant “snobbishly”? Three words and one photograph is apparently enough to force a Labour MP to resign “for the good of the party”, regardless of content.
How do we know, for example, that she didn’t mean this as a salute to proud Englishmen everywhere? “Image from Rochester: Look at this patriotic gent, don’t it warm your heart?” or whatever? How do we know she was looking down on this guy when she gives absolutely no indication whatsoever that this is actually the case? The answer is ‘we don’t, but that doesn’t matter!’
Personally, I see the fuss over this photo as a horrific example of everyone’s eagerness to bash someone, whoever it may be. Presumably those complaining about the tweet instantly thought that it was posted in a derogatory way (maybe it was, but there’s no indication of that). This, I think, says more about the paranoia and insecurity currently rife among us – over identity, threat to identity, attacks on “Englishness” etc – as a result of continued blanket scaremongering over immigration and, particularly, European immigration.
The media, our politicians (of all parties) and any ignorant closet racist now handed perceived justification to throw the doors open on their long-held but until-now-unspeakable views are “all about immigration” at the moment. This bigoted free-rein is harming our country and our society more than any level of immigration ever could.
Everyone jumped on Thornberry’s tweet, inferring a snobbish, sneering intent. Maybe that wasn’t so! Maybe it was. What it wasn’t was something to resign over. Apologise, sure, but there’s no need to resign. It – the reaction, not the tweet – shows the desperation of Labour and will (deservedly) decimate their support in places where they’re most at risk.
Here’s a more important Image From Rochester; apparently-unbiased BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson posing, smiling and willingly, with the Britain First Candidate I don’t respect enough to Google the name of. He’s apologised, after his own torrent of criticism, but will he be made to resign? Will he fuck. David Cameron says that Labour “sneer at hard-working people who are proud of their country and willing to show it”. The guy who owns the house with the England flags says he put them up for the World Cup and can’t remember the last time he voted. Farage said something mumbling and insubstantial. I rarely listen to him anymore.
Everyone has an opinion on a tweet that shows a house owned by a man who drives a white van (presumably for work), has England flags all over his building, a skinhead and is – as I type – WEARING one of his England flags as a cloak on BBC News. If ever there was an image that should NOT be pushed as “being the embodiment of Englishness” surely it’s this! Surely there’s a less stereotypical image that can be mustered in support of “England” (note, not UK, not British or Britain, but England) as a concept worth protecting from the hoards of filthy immigrants descending upon us?
But these days it’s a stereotype that works. Irony is dead. French people chomp onions, Arabs are dirty and want to change you, the English are hard-working, down-to-earth, beer-swilling, skin-headed jingoistic patriots who have every right to defend this green and pleasant land. It’s pathetic, it’s offensive, it’s politics of ignorance aimed at idiots. I fear the intelligent vote matters less and less every day, the moral vote less so again.
Britishness now means being frightened of anyone who isn’t us. It’s about ignoring facts and figures, research and findings in favour of racism as popular opinion. All political parties are ramping up their anti-immigration rhetoric as a reaction to UKIP’s “rise” under the assumption that this is What People Want. It isn’t. If Ed Miliband came out on stage tomorrow and said “You know what? I’m sick of dancing. I’m sick of pretending we think this and that about immigration just to pander to the fuck-wits among you who do. Our party is about fairness and inclusivity. It’s about not marching to UKIP’s drum beat but standing up to their disgusting scaremongering. Vote Labour if you think immigration makes this nation richer, better, more interesting and more economically sound!” then I guarantee their vote share would sky-rocket.
It’ll never happen. Maybe because the party IS now about what all others are about. If so, I’m done with them. In the meantime we have to watch knee-jerk reactions, based on insecurity and perceived threats to identity, trigger political resignations. It all makes me sick. Politics is becoming more of a game than ever before; a stadium of cunts cheering on teams of racist, pretend-humans. I despair.
This isn’t a coherent blog post. It’s not structured or narratively sound. It’s a rant. Which, if you’ve stuck with it, I thank you for reading.