Ukip speaks out on Islington MP Emily Thornberry's Rochester Twitter gaffe

Guy Bentley
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Emily Thornberry is having a Twitter nightmare

Labour MP for Islington Emily Thornberry has taken a beating on Twitter over a tweet she sent during the Rochester and Strood by-election campaign.

Political commentators, Eric Pickles and even a fellow Labour MP have weighed in to criticise Thornberry's ill-judged tweet, which showed a house with several St George's cross flags and a white van parked in the driveway. It carried the caption "Image from #Rochester".

The Rochester by-election is being held thanks to the defection of former Tory MP Mark Reckless to Ukip. If the polls are anything to go by, Ukip is set to capture another Tory seat.

The expected winners of tonight's by-election were quick to make their feelings on Thornberry's tweet, now dubbed #WhiteVanGate, known.

Ukip's economic spokesman Patrick O'Flynn said:

Labour are yet again demonising any expressions of patriotism. As soon as they leave their metropolitan bubble many of them feel acutely uncomfortable.

Emily Thornberry is in danger of turning into Labour's very own Matthew Parris; both have utter contempt for aspirational people who seek to earn their own living, pay their own bills, improve the circumstances of their families and are unashamedly patriotic.

The only white vans that MPs like Emily Thornberry deserve to see are removal vans taking their trappings of office away next May. Clearly if you wish to deter Labour politicians from bothering you by knocking at your door, stick an England flag in your window and they'll run a mile.

The gaffe is a PR gift for the Tories who will want attention diverted from their likely defeat in today's by-election. Some have already begun drawing analogies between Thornberry's tweet and Mitt Romney's 47 per cent line in the 2012 US presidential election.

The Republican nominee was widely castigated for claiming the 47 per cent of Americans who receive more from the government than pay in taxes were guaranteed to reelect Barack Obama.

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