Emily Thornberry, a labour MP, sparked outrage last November when she tweeted a picture of a white van parked outside a house flying England flags from the windows. The tweet was accompanied by the caption ‘image from #Rochester’. Thornberry posted the tweet on the day of the Rochester & Strood By-election, which saw UKIP gain their second MP.
She was widely criticised as being sneering and snobbish towards members of the public. As a media frenzy built up and labour figures came out and condemned her actions, Thornberry was forced to resign from her position as shadow attorney general.
In recent days Emily Thornberry has revealed how she found being labeled as a snob a deeply upsetting experience. Talking to BBC, she expressed how the house looked similar to the one she grew up in and how she has never forgotten the council estate she grew up on.
So, the question arises were we right to call her a snob? I’d say yes. Her tweet, and the tone of the comment suggested sneering and snobbishness, you can sense how she finds this aspect of the electorate borderline offensive. There was no other reason to tweet out an image and comment like that, if she wanted to express any other sentiment, she had 121 more characters than she used to do so.
Her tweet shows the frustrations many politicians are beginning to face, as they lose voters who they feel belong to them and their party, instead of aiming to change minds, they lash out in an attempt to ridicule.
Emily Thornberry is not alone in representing an out of touch political class. Many politicians have been caught insulting the electorate and the past year has been a particularly busy year in this respect.
Former cabinet member David Mellors was forced to apologise after swearing and listing his entire CV at a cabbie in a dispute over the quickest route through London. Mellors faced a ban from using black cabs after using the infamous phrase ‘do you know who I am?’ Former international development minister Andrew Mitchell was embroiled in plebgate, after allegedly calling a police officer a pleb for refusing to open the main Downing street gate.
These incidents may demonstrate how stressful politics can be, but more likely it demonstrates the contempt held by some politicians for the electorate and members of the public. It highlights the detachment from the ‘real’ world some politicians face, so caught up in politics egotistical spin that they are beginning to be left behind by the real world.
As the traditional parties are beginning to lose out to smaller parties, some politicians face frustration as they lose voters that they have taken for granted and their positions are no longer as stable as they have previously been.
Voters have become disengaged by a political class who see their position as a divine right, and are more interested in their own careers than their electorate. As the political landscape becomes more unstable, politicians who view their position as a divine right snap out at an electorate who has become frustrated with their self-entitlement.