Labour MP’s tweet was “completely appalling”, says PM, a phrase he usually reserves for the worst atrocities
Know the background of the Thornberry tweet? Skip to the bottom of this article…
You have probably heard by now that Labour MP Emily Thornberry has just had to resign her post as shadow attorney general, over a tweet.
The tweet in question showed a photo of a house in Rochester and Strood, where Tory defector Mark Reckless has just won a by-election to become UKIP’s second MP.
The house in the picture had a white van outside and three England flags hung outside (see below – cropped from tweet).
Thornberry’s oh-so-heinous comment accompanying the photo, which she has quit the frontbench for?
“Image from #Rochester”.
UKIP successfully whipped up a media frenzy by suggesting the tweet was “snobby”. The party said Thornberry “sneered, and looked down her nose at a white van in Strood with the cross of St George on it”.
(You might well argue that anyone who interprets a picture of a white van that happens to be next to three England flags as “snobby”, merely by virtue of those objects, is themselves the “snob” for interpreting it thus.)
Anyway. UKIP has managed to get what it wanted: Cameron and Miliband panicking and blowing the issue so far out of proportion that you almost pity them for how obviously they fear UKIP’s influence.
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander told Radio 4’s Today programme that “the anger Ed (Miliband) felt when he saw that tweet reflected his understanding that we need to earn the support of people around the country.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, meanwhile, said that Thornberry’s actions were “completely appalling” and suggested she was “sneering at people who work hard, are patriotic and love their country”.
“Completely appalling”, Dave? Really?
Other people and acts David Cameron has called “completely appalling” while PM
What else does the PM think is “completely appalling”? Because he doesn’t often go that far.
In fact, after searching through 10 pages of Google results, this is all I could find:
Muammar Gaddafi’s violence towards the Libyan people
In February 2011, Cameron condemned the violence of Gaddafi’s regime against his own people. “We can see what is happening in Libya which completely appalling and unacceptable as the regime is using the most vicious forms of repression against people who want to see that country – which is one of the most closed and one of the most autocratic – make progress.”
The attacks on the British embassy in Iran
The PM called the November 2011 attacks on the UK embassy in Iran “completely appalling and disgraceful behaviour”.
The violence in Syria under Bashar Al-Assad
In March 2012, as the violent crackdown on citizens in Homs, Syria, under Assad’s regime bloodily dragged on, Cameron said: “We’re all frustrated by Syria. What’s happening in Homs is completely appalling. I’m endlessly kicking the tires and asking what else can be done.”
The Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal
In October 2012, the prime minister responded to the Jimmy Savile sex abuse and the alleged implication of the BBC and other institutions as “completely appalling”.
“The allegations and what seems to have happened are completely appalling, and they are shocking the entire country,” he said.
“These allegations do leave many institutions – perhaps particularly the BBC – with serious questions to answer – I think above all the question, ‘How did he get away with this for so long?’”
Egypt sentencing British and Dutch journalists to 7-10 years in prison
Egypt handed out the sentences in June this year to Al Jazeera journalists, on charges of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast false reports, in a trial in which no evidence was made public. Cameron said the verdict was “completely appalling”.
Emily Thornberry tweeting a picture of a van and three England flags
And, er, anything else? Seriously, guys – anything else?
Not that I could find.
There may be other people and atrocities the prime minister has called “completely appalling”.
But, as mentioned, after going through 10 pages of Google results, these are the only six instances I can find. Feel free to add any others you find in comments below.
Is the prime minister really equating Thornberry’s tweet with the abject horrors he has previously reserved the phrase for?
Let me know your thoughts @sophiehobson