On the eve of last week’s Rochester and Strood by-election, the Labour shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry tweeted a photograph of a house which she had happened upon in the constituency. It was a mean, rather ugly little house, bedecked in England flags and with a white van parked on its brick drive. The picture was accompanied by the chill words, “Image from #Rochester.”
This poisoned house would prove to be the downfall of Mrs Thornberry. Faces brightened across the media and the word “snobbery” was rung throughout the land like church bells after a royal birth. The Prime Minister hurled himself into action, charging that the Labour MP was “sneering at people who work hard, are patriotic and love their country.” The leader of the UK Independence Party crowed that “Labour hate the concept of Englishness… New Labour can’t even stand the concept of patriotism.” Mrs Thornberry apologised before simultaneously resigning and being sacked from the shadow cabinet.
What is so infuriating about this story is that Labour’s rivals have sniffed out “snobbery” in three blank words, “Image from #Rochester,” and not in the stinking pages of overpoweringly snobbish New Labour manifestoes which are published before every genuine, nationwide election. Labour is a snobbish, paternalistic middle-class political party. This is what it is – this is what these people do! The same snobbery is stamped across every policy, every think-tank initiative, every infinitesimal wrinkle of Labour’s existence.
And so Labour leads a “war” against obesity, which is really a war against the population. Ordinary people, the Labour party believes, are too stupid to correctly feed themselves and their children. Labour is adamant that poor people are too intellectually underequipped to be trusted with alcohol, so that where and when they buy and drink it has to be constantly supervised. In May it was revealed that Labour is planning to introduce minimum alcohol pricing and restrictions on alcohol advertising. So much of Labour’s snobbery comes down to advertising: poor people are so stupid that they are being forever brainwashed by cigarettes which are placed on visible display or statistics about the sugar content of biscuits which are put in writing too small to read.
This snobbery reached its apotheosis last January when Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham made headlines with the news that his party finally had a firm political policy: they were going to outlaw Coco Pops. Never mind that Britain’s derelict housing stock was falling to pieces, or that its nuclear power stations were spluttering to an end, or that housing and energy and transport costs are leaping over the moon, Labour had a plan: ban Coco Pops! So far, there is still a serious possibility that this will be their flagship policy come the general election. I can picture the shadow cabinet appearing at rallies against the reviled chocolate krispies, to lead the mass booing.
I feel sorry for this poor, wretched woman. Sacked for standing outside one of the voters’ houses and sniggering about how grotesque they are! Meanwhile her party is allowed to swan off and no doubt produce another manifesto which schemes to rob the same voter of his freedom to smoke in public parks or eat sugary breakfast cereal. The snob is dead but long live the snobbery!