Image from #Rochester pic.twitter.com/rOjTgpskmF
— Emily Thornberry MP (@EmilyThornberry) November 20, 2014
Before you could say "too many tweets make a twat", Emily's tweet was not so much seized upon as fixed to the ducking stool, hung, drawn and quartered, and fed to the pigs. In this apparently innocuous photo all kind of hypocrites - who were happy to rally to Matthew Parris's defence when he cast elitist aspersions on the good people of Clacton - said it typified the grilled quinoa snobbishness of London Labour metros.
Unfortunately, they may be right. Go on any working class estate in the country and sights like the one tweeted by Thornberry are not uncommon. I suppose it's worthy of note for her either because they're a rarity in Islington South or doesn't hit the doorstep as often as she might. Whatever, implying the owner of the house (with a white van no less) was an oaf with less-than-PC views is the sort of stuff that's absolutely toxic as far as working class voters are concerned. It's just as well then that none but a few thousand tweeters and serial haunters of press websites in the late afternoon picked it up.
There is a lesson or two here. First is social media management. Candidates lower down the politics food chain find their social media stringently policed by group whips, advisors, and the friendly neighbourhood press person at regional office. Yet somehow message discipline is beyond the ken of some who repose upon the green benches. And the second is we'd better get used to this sort of thing. Tomorrow is Tory meltdown day, when all the bile and reaction comes bubbling up through the fissures. The damage the UKIP victory in Rochester and Strood will inflict has the outside chance of putting paid to Dave's premiership. Whatever happens, come the election the Tories have nothing to offer but scapegoating, blaming, and name calling. So every little opportunity, every little slip made by a shadow minister or a backwoods candidates looking for their 15 minutes as a Twitter trending topic will get the Thornberry treatment. We've seen the near future, and this is what it looks like.