The Tories expect to lose in Rochester tonight – and blame Labour. Had it not been imploding, they argue, the Ukip vote would not be so big. And why is it imploding? Enter Islington MP Emily Thornberry, who was’t really helping any late efforts by tweeting this ‘Image from Rochester.’ Within no time, this was being taken as a Londoner’s “snobby and derogatory” sneer at White Van Man:
She has (sort of) explained herself to MailOnline here. But not to the satisfaction of Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale:-
“Everyone will know exactly what she meant by that comment. I think she was being derogatory and dismissive of the people. We all know what she was trying to imply.”
And Eric Pickles has weighed in:-
‘Whatever one’s class, colour or creed, the St George’s flag is a unifying symbol for our nation. Don’t knock it – let’s fly the English flag with pride.’
And it keeps unfolding. This may yet prove the biggest single story of Labour’s campaign.
The party certainly hasn’t poured resources into helping Naushabah Khan do well: privately everyone in the campaign admits that much. One shadow minister told me this week that there was no point in allocating a resources to a battle where the party would only ever come third. More money and more MPs campaigning in the constituency might mean a few fewer points behind, but it would still mean a firm loss.
This is not like Heywood and Middleton, where the party fought hard and assumed it would be fine (though those who were on the doorstep do say now that they were surprised by the hostile response they got) only to discover they scraped a win with Ukip in second place.