Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris: the barbarism of the Twitter mob

The internet can turbo-charge national hypocrisy so that it turns ferocious within hours

29 November 2014

9:00 AM

29 November 2014

9:00 AM

Are we heading for a new barbarism? Is this the return of the 18th-century mob? Here are more questions than answers. I ask because when all the fuss about Emily Thornberry and her photo tweet from Rochester has died down, we shall be left with something more disturbing than whatever sin she may or may not have committed. We’ve just seen demonstrated the speed, the destructiveness, the sheer violence of the modern tempest that information technology can create. In the world of opinion, climate change has arrived already.

As a workaday columnist, I reflect that I could equally easily write a spirited defence of Ms Thornberry; or a spirited attack; or I could attack Ed Miliband for publicly laying into her; or for privately agreeing with her.

In the Telegraph Boris Johnson achieved all four within the compass of a single column. He argued that Thornberry was unlucky; that it served her jolly well right; that Ed Miliband shouldn’t have attacked her; and that he must secretly agree with her.

Well, it would be fun to tease Boris for running so nimbly with the hare and hunting so stylishly with the hounds. We may wipe a tear from the eye after reading his touching tribute to White Van Man (barely — but just — avoiding the phrase ‘salt of the earth’) while remaining doubtful whether, if a Johnson daughter declared her intention to shack up with a van man in Rochester who decorated his house with English flags, he would greet the affair with rapture. But we should not single Boris out. Horror at the match would be shared by the entire cabinet, the shadow cabinet, the editors of any of our newspapers, most Spectator readers and doubtless Nigel Farage too. Truly we are a nation of hypocrites.

But that’s not new. What’s new is the way IT can now turbo-charge national hypocrisy, turning it into a ferocious force within the space of a couple of hours.

Here’s a warning: a warning equally to those inclined to praise Emily Thornberry and those inclined to blame her; to those inclined to admire Mr Miliband’s prompt command and those inclined to mock it. It’s a warning to the likes of myself; and Boris, too, who will remember his run-in with Liverpool over Hillsborough and the late Ken Bigley a decade ago, and will ask himself whether in an age of Twitter he would even have survived. It’s a warning to left and right, to liberals and conservatives, to black and white, feminists and sexists, racists and multiculturalists alike.

All should quail. For the mob is fickle and knows no single creed. It has no favourites — or rather its favourites may switch in the blinking of an eye. Its prey may rise from nowhere into sudden public contempt, and be forgiven as fast. One day the mob is with the fox, the next with the hounds. All you can be sure of is that if you attract the mob’s attention in the morning, by sundown you may have been smothered with kisses or beaten to a pulp.

And as 18th-century grandees may have peered nervously down from the windows of their dining rooms, always in fear of the gathering of the mob in the street, so in the internet age those who may be in (or have the misfortune to catch) the public eye can never be sure whence the next virtual mob may gather and strike. Those who call themselves reputation managers may become the new bodyguards against the footpads prowling the Twittersphere.

There are two keys to this dawning dynamic: speed and volume.

Until a few years ago, and for the whole of human history before that, inbuilt blocks, inefficiencies and delays acted to retard the spreading of — and reaction to — information. Word of mouth was very slow; manuscript was intrinsically slow; the printing press did accelerate the dissemination of news but there remained brakes to its speed, and very severe breaks to the spreading of public reaction to news. Letters to the editor were the closest we got to an internet flash mob.

Sound amplification, then broadcasting and the telephone, gave new wings to the spreading of report, but again there were limitations to speed and volume of response. We might know almost instantaneously that a murderer had been caught or a politician indicted; and know pretty fast what we thought about that. But it took much longer to know what everyone else thought. Opinion may echo and amplify with the knowledge of others’ opinion; waves of public indignation were hard to gather on the instant.

Street mobs in an earlier age, and radio phone-ins and pollsters’ reports in our own, have been the closest we got to that. There were inbuilt restraints to rapid report and reaction. Almost overnight, those restraints have gone. All at once I can know immediately what has happened, can know that everyone else knows too; can know their reaction; and know that they know mine. Tremendous self-reinforcing surges of anger, outrage — and indeed distress, admiration or generosity — can be the near-instantaneous result. We have no time to sleep on it and see whether we still feel the same in the morning: the wave is already breaking.

In this case it broke over Emily Thornberry’s head. Recently it broke, too, over the heads of the ‘pick-up artist’ Julien Blanc and the comedian Dapper Laughs. I regard both these characters as pond life, but there must be fairer ways of deciding whether to withdraw Blanc’s visa or cancel Laughs’s ITV show. It was crude volume that swung these decisions, with little thought as to how easy it might be to assemble the 150,000 signatures that did for Blanc, or the 60,000 signatures that finished Laughs.

And there but for the grace of God go I — and quite possibly you, reader — and certainly Boris. Will mankind learn to start ignoring these storms? Or will people start going down like ninepins? Or will everybody become horribly circumspect, like Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four confiding only in old friends in safe houses? Who knows? I end, as I began, with questions.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

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Show comments
  • Pootles

    A bit rude to call Ed Miliband ‘the virtual mob’. It wasn’t online anything that saw the demise of Thornberry, except her own e-exposure of her snobbery (and lack of self awareness), and Miliband’s reaction to it.

  • Tilly

    There is most certainly mob rule now and with the internet people
    can hide behind pseudonyms.The kangaroo court of public opinion baying for blood rarely keeps their head about them.
    I’m not defending That silly woman whose clearly not too fond
    of her own voters or England in general but some have become
    quite hysterical and almost feral. Saying that dear Emily clearly
    had to go,its all about image now and being ‘in touch’.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    The tabloid press was powerful enough before the tweeterati arrived. Some have claimed that it was the tabloids’ campaigns of ridicule that did for Kinnock and, later, John Major. I doubt that Ms Thornberry would have fared much better at the hands of Kelvin McKenzie’s Sun (if he already had her in his sights, that is).

    Not for nothing did the party leaders suck up to the press barons.

  • Bridey

    “Or will everybody become horribly circumspect, like Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four confiding only in old friends in safe houses”

    Wasn’t it the metropolitans liberals (that you so keenly see yourself as a member of) who started this all off? Screaming ‘bigot’ at anyone who disagrees with your views on immigration or gay marriage.

    Live by the sword…

    • dado_trunking

      You are talking to the right guy, mate.
      What would you like me to do you for?

    • Patricia

      “Wasn’t it the metropolitan liberals (that you so keenly see yourself as a member of) who started this all off? Screaming ‘bigot’ at anyone who disagrees with your views on immigration or gay marriage.”

      Yes indeed. The words “hoist” and “petard” come to mind !

      • flippit

        Who could forget that simply ghastly description of Clacton as a place where you can buy a detached bungalow for £100k – perfect euphemism for the town of Clacton being cheap. Wouldn’t it be nice (he thinks) if it was like the olden days when you could write something frightfully nasty and yet receive hardly any responses, certainly nothing equally nasty or worse.
        The age of deference is over and it applies to so called ‘reputable’ journalists as much as anyone else.

        • Patricia

          Good old Libs – you really aren’t supposed to answer them back – they don’t like it !

          • zappata

            They don’t like it up ’em more like !

          • Chris Morriss

            That’s probably because Parris is getting on a bit now.

          • Terry Field

            How absolutely revolting buggery is. Or am I wrong? Do I need therapy to come to appreciate it????
            DO say!

        • Wessex Man

          This is his problem, he still wishes that the British people except for his ‘elite’ were as docile and ready to obey his ‘elite’ as our fathers and grandfathers,in his view a lumpen mass who were required to work for the ‘elite’ and fight thier wars on their commands and never question anything. His views on Clacton clearly show this to be so.

          We now have the means to question his ‘elite’ and as Corp Jones used to say ‘they don’t like it up em!’

          I say that as a retired successful businessman who also served my country and had the unpleasant experience of meeting many times the ‘elite’ that Parris comes from.

          The Old Boy networks that saw them promoted above their abilities both in the MOD and Industry, their failures that along with the Unions left our country as the sick man of Europe.

          If a cartoonist would wish to sketch King Louis and Marie Antoinette from today’s crowd Call me Dave would make a perfect Louis and Matthew Parris a perfect Marire Antoinette.

          • AJH1968

            Great comment! The country has produced a cast system so insular, that we seem completely unable (until recently) to produce a political class with any integrity, imagination or courage.

    • Hagen vanTronje

      Those that live by the sword get shot at long range !

    • rightrightright

      Even among old friends in safe houses and over the dinner table one is still abused by the likes of Baroness Warsi for being uppity enough to discuss the Islam among us. We are never allowed to be allowed the free solitude of our friends and our thoughts.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    The lynch mob have certainly been after Nigel Farage’s blood, and much good it has done them. There are limits to the power of the mob.

    • lordlindley

      By the ‘Lynch mob’ I presume you mean the ‘snobs’ that tell we plebs what to do and think, so we follow the Common Purpose pathway to EUSSR and the New World Order wet dream of these clones?

  • Lydia Robinson

    Er, it wasn’t a twitter mob, it was her own leader who “lynched” her.

    • GripperStebson

      Miliband took a perfectly common-or-garden Tory disaster and effortlessly turned it into a Labour calamity. The man’s a genius at self-immolation.

      • Hagen vanTronje

        He is an absolute Pratt isn’t he ?
        I for one am so glad he is useless !

        • Gen d’Eau

          He makes useless look effortless

      • pointlesswasteoftime

        He was damned if he did, he was damned if he didn’t.

        It may be the wrong decision (personally, I don’t think so – she’s a crap politician if she didn’t realise how ambiguous her tweet was – or she was deliberately ambiguous because she was being a smart4rse) but at least Miliband showed spine.

        • GripperStebson

          Sacking her then stating he feels “respect every time he sees a white van” is clearly a ludicrous reaction.

          He condemns her for a moment of poor judgement, she resigns and heads to the back-benches for the remaining couple of months of this pointless parliament and she scuttles back either into the government or a front-bench post after May. All his reaction did was magnify the insult – and there was no ambiguity about her tweet. She was sneering at a prole in a superior Islington way, thought no-one would notice and got shafted as a result. Good.

          Miliband should realise that those countries who wish to do us harm have embassies and consulates monitoring this stuff all day long and each and every gaff he makes goes into files all over the world. If he were simply making an idiot of himself and his party then he could be forgiven. That in less than a year he could be sitting across the table to Vladimir Putin should be sending shivers through our spines.

  • gerontius

    And there but for the grace of God go I — and quite possibly you, reader —

    All that happened to Thornberry and you was that her sneering attitude towards “the lower orders” (bit of a problem if you insist on joining a party supposedly dedicated to representing “the lower orders”) and your air of, almost colonial, superiority towards the voters of Clacton, came to wider public attention than you wished. Well sorry, but tough on the pair of you. I regard it as a public benefit that the rest of us know what you really think.
    As for the other two: Well it wasn’t the mob that cancelled Blanc’s visa or Laugh’s TV show was it?.

    • Lorenzo

      “As for the other two: Well it wasn’t the mob that cancelled Blanc’s visa or Laugh’s TV show was it?”

      This an important point. The “mob” would have much less power if the government, politicians and the media and entertainment industries didn’t cower so abjectly before it.

      • little islander

        Sorry, you missed gerontius’ point.

        • Lorenzo

          I know his points, I wanted to reinforce the more important of them.

  • Ohoho. If you think this online barracking of a wretched Labour liar is an angry mob, or if you truly believe the street mob is now extinct, just wait till you see our metropolitan areas within a decade or two, Parris.

    Perhaps then you’ll look back on sneering pontifications such as this, and realise how culpable you and your establishment chums really are. Or, far more likely, you and the rest of your slimy ilk will have long left this country by then, leaving the plebs to clear up your horrible mess.

    • goatmince

      … says the rich kid who moved out of Tower Hamlets when the nation needed him to teach the influx how to chew a hot pie and swallow mushy peas.

      Loud laughter is all he got when he left and now a chakra-balanced mint tea, rose water, lemongrass and shawarma rules his former neighbourhood.

      His Mondeos once made here he replaced with a BMWs assembled in Munich. US American trick or treat and the Germanic Christmas Trees are now HIS culture in the leafy, lefty suburbs of discontent.

      So who would possibly care what he thinks? The little Englander he is is really, deep down Deutsch.

      • evad666

        Didn’t he originally think mushy peas were guacamole?

        • goatmince

          … not with that silly food colouring added he wouldn’t be thinking that, no.
          He would be thinking that that’s a very Indian thing to do.

        • Chris Morriss

          That was Mandleson I think.

      • mattghg

        What on earth are you going on about?

        • goatmince

          Can we have that in English, please?

          • mattghg

            The only language you speak is Troll.

          • goatmince

            Are you German too, brother?
            Come clean now. Deep down you are all Deutsch and you know it.

          • global city

            I am. Germano-Celt…. not a problem, is it?

          • goatmince

            The term ‘Anglo Saxon’ works perfectly to deliver the message.

          • Wessex Man

            Tell us your message loud and clear wise one.

          • Geronimo von Huxley

            Know your tribe white man.
            Now Geronimo take scalp.

          • Colonel Mustard

            So what are you?

            Apart from an Anglophobe racist.

          • goatmince

            I am a fascist spotter.
            I smell ’em three miles off.
            Calling them German seems appropriate.

          • Radio Real Free Europe

            In Deutschland wärst du schon lange im Knast oder in der Klappse gelandet…
            Nichts für ungut…

          • goatmince

            Nix für ungut aber in der Klappse ist hier offensichtlich nicht genug Platz – wie sagt man Troll auf Deutsch, Radio Frei Erfunden?

          • Hexhamgeezer


      • Colonel Mustard

        What’s it to you anyway?

        • goatmince

          Did you like how I called him Deutsch?
          Uh oh, I think I nailed it.

          • global city


      • vieuxceps2

        Sedatives please .nurse!

  • Morph68

    Matthew, try not to be such an effete snob. It is clear that the ‘liberal ruing classes’, such as you, are worried about the growing pleb discontentment with the constant mismanagement of the UK and the growing reconnecting of voters with political activism.

    • dado_trunking

      There is nothing wrong with expressing plebbish ‘discontentment’.
      Tell us how you feel, show yourself on the streets of England.
      Not in the pubs, in the streets – show us how appealing your message can be, en masse. Why will you not do that?

      I see you not, not protesting about bankers raping you repeatedly, not when politicians supposedly do not act in your best interest, nothing. You are not there protesting. Is that a too French thing to do? What is your problem? Please do tell us.

      • Colonel Mustard

        This sounds suspiciously like it originates in goatmince and you_kid land. Or at least the same office/bedsit.

        “I see you not, not . . . “? Come now.

        • dado_trunking

          Your suspicion is beside the point, sir. If you had another comment to make I would be more than happy to respond to it.

        • wayne

          I thought only gays, terrorists and immigrants were allowed to demonstrate. Anyone else demonstrating is automatically demonized and branded

      • uberwest

        What do you do in Scroteland? Shovel deep fried foods down your throat and die 30 years early in protest?

      • Grace Ironwood

        I have to say it always makes me cringe to hear “rape” casually bandied about as a metaphor for being violated in some other way:

        “Someone broke into my car – I feel like I’ve been raped”. This trivialises and minimises a crime that is second only to murder in its heinous nature.

        Admittedly, laws like the extremist Swedish ones do the same in drawing an equivalence between some minor infraction and “rape rape” but nevertheless that’s no excuse for crude figures of speech such as “I feel like my son has been pack-raped by the legal system”

        No intent to cramp your style but i do urge you consider this thought, Goat.

      • Terry Field

        Plebs do not matter; true they are the principals for corrupt governmental agents who buy their votes, but in the end – and we are near that end now, the plebs are crushed underfoot as resources to support them cease to be available.

    • davidofkent

      Or even just ‘discontent’.

    • pointlesswasteoftime

      What he says applies as much to you as to the ‘liberal ruling classes’. That is the point of his article – or did you not bother to read it once you had seen the by-line?

      • Morph68

        ‘pointlesswasteoftime’; you are as patronising as Mr Parris. Does that, make you feel superior? From your obtuse and irrelevant response, I feel you may be a little insecure …. or are you just being abusive and calling me a ‘pleb’?

        • pointlesswasteoftime

          Wow. Chill, dude. I’m no fan of the political top knobs either but the article pointed out the online mob can turn on ANYONE, which is the point your comment did not seem to address – or rather, it ignored. I don’t feel superior to you though I wouldn’t call someone I’ve never met an “effete snob”, just as I wouldn’t call anyone a pleb or a chav, so maybe I’m just better-mannered.

          • Morph68

            I’m guessing from the words “wow, chill, dude …” you’re some kind of juvenile intern for the Tories who’s been let loose with the ‘Speccie’ password. Speaking as a Tory, from South Dorset, I will only vote Conservative because we have a fine MP. If he defected to UKIP, I’d still vote for him … it’s time the ‘muppets’ at CCHQ got it that you you can’t take us for granted anymore. By the way, I’d been active within the Conservative Party for many years … why do you think that I’d never met Matthew Parris?

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            “some kind of juvenile intern for the Tories “….as if! You think I’d work for THEM – for nothing? Even a six-figure salary wouldn’t be enough to stop me throwing up every morning as I walked through the door. I didn’t know enough about you to know whether you had met Matthew Parris or not. Not every Spectator reader has met him, though as you address him by his first name, maybe I should have assumed you had. Out of interest – have you? Did you tell him to his face he’s an “effete snob”? Kudos if you did (but not entirely accurate), for being someone who doesn’t mince his words when face-to-face. If not, why wait til now?

            And you still missed the point of the article.

          • Morph68

            Go to bed! It’s past your bedtime …

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            Ah, cute. The traditional cliche from someone who can’t make an argument or give an answer. That’s all right, I wasn’t expecting much, so I will leave it here. Have a good night.

          • Morph68

            There was no argument. It’s just that you lived up to your username … a ‘pointlesswasteoftime’. 🙂

          • Cuthbert Shaw

            Sorry you failed the test, the correct response should have been sit down granddad and have a Murray Mint.

    • sarah_13

      The “virtual mob” in this case did not get Thornberry. Miliband, in all his cowardice and disingenuity, anticipating the mob, pre-emptively got Thornberry. The fact that Thornberry is often the leader of such a “mob” is not lost on many she was “hoist by her own petard”.

      I agree that the virtual mob is quite a worry most are completely uniformed meme lovers and whilst democracy is the best system we have, easy democracy, such as this, at the click of a switch with “no consequences”, is dangerous. However it should be for the likes of Miliband (leader of her majesty’s opposition) to stand up to this”virtual mob” not to acquiesce pre-emptively. Rather than ask Thornberry to resign in response to a “twitter storm” he should have questioned earlier her disturbingly patronising and condescending manner, obvious to many of us for quite some time, not simply why she thinks its acceptable to disdain the public in the way she did. It struck me she needn’t resign, after all she and Miliband are all part of the same hypocrisy, but I suspect even Thornberry didn’t have the front to lie in response to the inevitable crescendo of questions about what she meant by tweeting this photo? My view is she was “bang to rights”. She thoughtlessly and inadvertently disclosed the picture in her attic; #doriangray.

      • Terry Field

        Milliband respects white vans.
        You could not make that w*nker up.
        Roll around on the floor funny.

  • edithgrove

    It wasn’t the mob what done her in, it was ‘her leader’. The mob where in the cheap seats, laughing, throwing an occasional rotten vegetable and applauding her comeuppance.

  • David S

    How dare the great unwashed express opinions on matters of public interest? Surely in the interest of a kinder, fairer society the right to comment should be restricted to those who are duly licensed by our betters, say Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Julia Middleton. Although given the immoderate language our esteemed columnist has used in his twice-weekly rants against UKIP, I am not sure he would make the cut.
    Lady Nugee outed herself as a snob, and Ed Miliband threw her under the bus as fast as he could because she had exposed a truth at the heart of today’s Labour party.
    MP would be better to focus his anger on the people who prevented Tim Stanley and Brendan O’Neill conducting a debate on the grounds that they had the wrong genitalia, or the ones who intimidated numerous Northern councils and police forces into turning a blind eye to child sex abuse because it might have caused offence if they had tried to do their job than to try to silence those who point out bad behaviour by politicians.
    Instead it just looks like the Westminster village closing ranks.

    • global city

      Dame Matthew Parris will soon be elevated to the House of Lords so may become a little less tetchy.

  • tomgreaves

    Yep, life ain’t the same no more. It’s all about emotions mate. Mobs react on the cusp of passions rather than reflect cognitively, and the internet is a great place to let fly. Ever watched a film of a mob reacting and the spread of behaviour from one person to the rest. It’s phenomenal, like a shoal of fish acting as one. This is how fast emotions spread. It’s almost instantaneous. The mood of people at the moment is dominated by fear, anger and hatred and the neurochemistry of the emotions shuts down the capacity to think. When the passions are in the IQ is out. So, look out we are sheep in a herd.

    • Greyfox

      I think that should be a “flock”. … Sloth of bears, nide of pheasants, smuck of jellyfish etc..

      • razzysmum

        Nah, a flock is submissive, when it becomes a herd it gets dangerous.

        • Greyfox

          I know what you mean but when does a flock become a herd? Actually I was cavilling.

          • razzysmum

            Ah… when they stop being sheep and become angry bulls they become a herd and then those elite need to watch out.
            Interesting times?

    • Paddy Kilshamus

      Check out ‘Libido Dominandi’ by E Michael Jones. He talks about the manipulations of passions being an intrinsic part of political control.

      • tomgreaves

        Thanks for that. I will do so.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Good book.

  • JSC

    The only thing twitter seems suited to is getting yourself misinformed, abused or arrested. That anyone thinks, especially politicians, that this is a serious and legitimate form of democratic communication is beyond me. Twitter messages in general bear more than a slight resemblance to the hastily scribbled graffiti one might find on the toilet wall of particularly stinky cesspit frequented by puerile weirdos and crypto-facists.

  • AJH1968

    Why do you still advertise your cold blooded contempt for the lower orders with such verve? I don’t think the Earl of Cardigan would be so ruthlessly indifferent to the tribulations of the working class.

  • Annephi

    Are you saying that it’s OK for a shadow cabinet
    minister to photograph the house of a member-of-the-public and then post it on
    the internet for everyone to laugh at? Would it be OK if that happened to you?

    • Tilly

      Indeed.The hubby and I were discussing how mortified
      the owner of that house must feel, they never asked for
      all this attention.

  • Gregory Mason

    ‘racists and multiculturalists’

    Nice try at implying that those who disagree with multiculturalism are racists. Fail.

  • greggf

    “Truly we are a nation of hypocrites.”

    You may speak for yourself Matthew and Mr Hare’s characterisation of Emily as a snob could apply .
    However he has the right to secret vote. Suggesting which way he will is offensive.

  • John Carins

    The people are not hypocrites. A man parks a white van outside his house which is draped in England flags. A display of patriotism or just support for his national football team. An act that has not a shred of hypocrisy. The hypocrites are Thornberry and, Miliband for thinking and reacting to this as peculiar behaviour. They have been hoisted by their own PC petard. Mr Parris is also a hypocrite for trying to milk the incident further and by suggesting that mob rule via telecommunications is the issue and that the people are hypocrites. In the words of Frankie Howerd “twitter ye not”

    • Geoff103

      Well, there may have been no hypocrisy on display but a there was a famine of any aesthetic sensibility.

      • sarah_13

        But that wasn’t Thornberry’s gripe, she herself leaves much to be desired in the “aesthetic sensibility” department as her graceless condescension regularly displays. She disclosed the portrait in her attic and no possible explanation could have sufficed; #doriangray.

  • GripperStebson

    This is the country you and your metropolitan ilk created Matthew. When you demanded everyone and everything now be equal then there was always going to be those who wanted to be more equal than others. It’s basic human nature.

    The root cause is multi-culturalism and the sledgehammer it’s taken to our public life. We proles didn’t ask (or vote) for it and the tsunami of diversity you’ve inflicted upon us. It’s you that created this pernicious atmosphere and caused the cultural Balkanisation of our country with the predictable cyber mob-rule you describe.

    Now every minority or hobby-horse group that can mobilise and get three minutes ranting on Sky News or an internet campaign to go viral can demand to be “respected”, for special provisions to be made for it and to reserve the right to shout down anyone who dares not to give it precisely what it wants and conform to whatever lunatic world-view it may hold. All they need is a “victim”.

    That it was a “white-van man” who had his “right to be respected” violated by an Islington-luvvy Labour front-bench snob this time is, well, delicious irony.

    Suck it up. There’s plenty more coming your way. The peasants are revolting and they’re not going away.

  • mikewaller

    Mathew, please ignore the negative nonsense below; they are just talking vindictive crap. I know a pretty fair cross-section of people and I doubt that any of them would answer “yes” to the question “Would you be pleased if the white van man in question moved in next door?”. The flags, of course, may be temporary, but the sheer size of the van must blight the lives of the folks both sides. The rubbish you are being exposed to tells us exactly why politicians dare not express their true feelings: the wider world is full of sad sacks desperate to give someone or other a good kicking. No doubt, in many cases, the reason lies in their dysfunctional childhoods or their failure to make the mark upon the World they think they deserve.

    • Bill_der_Berg

      “I doubt that any of them would answer “yes” to the question “Would you be pleased if the white van man in question moved in next door?”.

      Maybe, but would they feel the need to share their aversion with the world at large? That is what Ms Thornberry was criticised for.

      As for politicians, they keep their true feelings under wraps out of self-interest. It is not a good career move to offend people whose votes you are after.

      • mikewaller

        That is precisely my point: it is the people who make politicians liars by denying them the right to express common sentiments. Look how nice Howard and Portillo have become since leaving office. They have not had a personality transplant, it is simply that they are now allowed to be themselves. I recall a US politician seriously damage his prospects by saying that his wife had gone to California whilst he had had to come to New Jersey so “guess whose drawn the short straw”. Obviously ill advised but what most folks would think. Indeed a comic could get away with it. So once again, it’s the people who make politicians highly cautious and where unavoidable, liars.

        • Bill_der_Berg

          Are you saying that MP’s should be free to express his or her true feelings in certain limited circumstances, just so long as he does not offend powerful interests. Or should he or she go the whole hog and tell constituents that their problems are boring, then inform party donors that they are crooks?

        • gerontius

          “That is precisely my point: it is the people who make politicians liars by denying them the right to express common sentiments”
          If that carpetbagger Thornberry had joined the Tory Party I wouldn’t have turned a hair – but she didn’t did she?

          • mikewaller

            Think before you hit the keyboard, do you seriously suppose that Cameron would have been any better treated had he tweeted it?

          • gerontius

            Oh but I did Mike.
            It is a pity that you don’t read before you hit the keyboard.

  • Richard Eldritch

    Shut up Parris you knobber.

  • EricHobsbawmtwit

    With the Mitchell case in, vanity seems to be a bit of a theme this evening. And it’s the vanity of the politician than makes him or her join Twitter in the first place. If you’re going to run a Twitter account and a political campaign, at least get a minion to do it on your behalf. Then you have someone to blame.

  • edithgrove

    Well on the bright side, three heads on spikes in one week. Formez vos bataillons.

  • Nigel Go

    Me thinks that it will be coming for you if you continue to carry on like a toddler whose pants are too tight for him.
    I suspect that your real problem is that the control that the commentariat exercised over what beomes the issues of the day has disintegrated. So you cry ‘Mob!’, ‘Racist’, ‘Pond Life’ etc. As if that will restore you to your former glory.

  • grutchyngfysch

    Mr Parris, whilst I don’t share your particular outlook, and possess (apparently) a different set of prejudices to your own, I would at least acknowledge your guts in sticking to your guns (though I’d fall in the opposite direction).

    Still, I cannot help but wonder who removed the “restraints”? Isn’t this in many ways the epitaph to the state of political progressivism, which, having for so long trampled on restraint in order to push its own fashions, now begins to find itself unfashionable, and so, being trampled on? That’s not an accusation specifically levelled at you: it’s just an observation that much of the collapse of trust in modern politics and the rise of different forces is the follow-on from what has been sowed for some time now.

    The troubling reality – as 1984 and other works like it point to – is not that the empowered mob ever sweeps itself into power, but rather that strong men ride the mob to a point where they may deprive it of any appearance of influence.

    • evad666

      Two legs good four legs bad said the pig.

  • Simon Fay

    If she’d been bombarded with abuse and threats I’d be troubled – but I haven’t heard that she was. Rather that the hitherto-untouchable matter of Labour’s antagonism towards those it professes to represent got seized upon belatedly through a quietly-telling act so trivial in its way, and so in tune with the long-established tenor of the open-neck-shirt mob on the press-preview sofa (itself just another part of the nexus through which Ms Thornberry’s peers circulate & network), that it’s remarkable it was noticed at all, and amazing that it snowballed the way it did.

  • McQueue

    Blah, blah, blah…. Oh Matthew, please carry on, you are our best electioneer.

    The mask slipped, we saw the hideous contempt with which we are held – you could not be held in lower respect than you are, you are even not worth breaking wind for.

  • Mode4

    Emily is a complete snob and needs no sympathy, constantly sneers at those working class roots that she came from and is supposed to represent but doesn’t. One of her colleagues openly admitted this and was obviously dismayed by the Labour party in its present form. Emily’s tweet reflected what the Labour party has become and confirmed that the Labour party despises the working class. It was also fortunate for Dave that is took away the headline that the Tories lost a 10,000 seat majority in Rochester. Was it luck or good planning.

  • Sticks and stones may break my bones
    But names will never hurt me.

    Get over it, who gives a crap if people get called names. They are jailing people who call folk names on twitter. This is insane.

  • Grace Ironwood

    Matthew, what do you think of the uber-mob, the homosexual “mob” . These people have demonstrated over and over, their mastery of the politics of personal destruction in the most chilling manner.

  • A World of Paine

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that sneering little snobs like Parris and Thornberry will stick together and whine about people being ‘unfair’ to Islington.

    • rhys

      Not to mention they rule the country exclusively for their own meritless benefit.
      A conspiracy of mediocrity, stupidity and hypocrisy.
      Who mostly got lucky to get where they are . Or connections. Or both.
      Some of them are wise enough not to put it too obviously on display though ( unlike Parris ~who first came to prominence for sending a nasty uber~Thatcherite letter to a council house dweller who had written to the lady for assistance on some issue or other. ” be grateful you’ve got a council house , idiot ” was Matthew’s gist, as I recall.
      No twitter then but it still came to public attention. )

  • Marketthinker

    Twitter sums up the unhealthy mutual obsession between Politicians and the media. I know of no one over 35 outside of the media and politics who uses Twitter, perhaps because those two groups are uniquely self obsessed? I can think of no reason for any member of Parliament to go on Twitter other than to reveal themselves as short termist, headline chasing, media obsessed lightweights. It does however provide a wider service in showing up the vanity and inanity of the Westminster bubble.

    • razzysmum

      They created the *victim* PC nonsense and now it has turned on them.
      GREAT… what goes around, comes around. I look forward to many more elite being bashed on twitter and other places…. we can all be victims of their arrogance now…YEAH!

  • DaveTheRave

    Only this country could make up a whole issue about displaying a flag… the flag of the country in which we (the English) live!
    Just what it is that makes such a simple statement of 1. Patriotism 2. Allegiance to a sports team, so bloomin’ controversial?
    I went to Denmark the other year, Danish flags all over, no issue, no problem, just a positive sense of a nation still fairly happy with itself.
    In England we are hamstrung politically and culturally by a politically correct overclass who are more concerned about how things seem, than how they actually are.
    Patriotism is not the last refuge of the scoundrel, like the PC brigade like to think; in England it has become an absolute necessity in a political and cultural climate which does not recognise a nation of 50 million people. In fact ‘they’ just wish it would go away, hence all the talk about regionalising England, ‘British’ politicians arguing that it’s time we thought again about what England is – this usually comes from Labour and Libs from the fringe.
    Well, England DOES exist, if not recognised officially at Westminster or Brussels, it does exist in our hearts. Therefore we fly the flag because we have to, to show we are here. Do they get it?
    And one day, soon, we will be listened to like humans with rights on this piece of earth we call England.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    The size of the flag draped over the front of the house must have made many passers-by stop and stare. Some of them may even have been inspired to tweet about it, without causing a stir. Private citizens can do that. It is just possible that, In other circumstances, Ms Thornberry’s tweet may have passed unnoticed.

    Unfortunately for her, Ed is in trouble, there was an important by-election, and she is a Shadow Minister who lives in Islington and belongs to a metropolitan elite that is much resented. Bad luck, Emily.

  • Simon_in_London

    I don’t recall Parris actually complaining about any Leftie SJW mobs at the time, though, and they are by far the more frequent.

    Personally I have no objection to a daughter of Boris Johnson marrying a white van driver. Why on earth would it be any of my business? But it’s an interesting insight into Parris’ worldview that he assumes most people share his disdain.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    The latest Populus, YouGov and Ashcroft polls show the Conservatives lower than usual and UKIP higher than usual. They do not show any decrease in Labour’s support following several days of fussing about White Vans and Emily Thornberry.

  • Larry Mars

    So much noise just because a Marxist masculine female politician tweeted the pic of a white van under and English flag…

    I am sure that if a UKIP politician tweeted the pic of a Black man juxtaposed to that of a banana, columnists like Mr. Parris would be lecturing us about the perils of a mob coming after tweets they don’t like.

  • Kit

    Mr Parris reminds me of the bitchy cool girl school bully. Lets round everyone up to pick on the weak. Unfortunately when the bully is opposed and stuck up to they cry loudest.

    Or in simple terms what a cowardly hypocrite.

  • What complete bull. It’s absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with new tech – I use that all the time. However it has everything to do with modern media and disgraceful sensationalism of any story that the reporters can lay their hands on.
    I say the above as this article (shared on FB) is the first I’ve heard of it (I do *not* read papers or deliberately watch the news on TV) and I still haven’t the foggiuest what the hell you’re talking about with respect to Ms. Thornberry.

  • flippit

    D’you know what? I did ignore the storms. Certainly over le Blanc. Didn’t care about the David Mellor thing, read some of the articles about Emily Thornbury and follow White Van Dan on Twitter (he’s pretty funny). If these are ‘mobs’ they’re easy enough to keep out. Strangely, I don’t know that many people on Twitter and only young, apolitical family members on Facebook, so if it wasn’t that the story got picked up by the news outlets, then the mob would have moved off naturally with nobody any the wiser. No, it’s the papers, the news and the journalists, particularly journalists, who raise the bitch level to fright.

  • Gerschwin

    Why do all gay men turn into their mothers?

  • “Thornberry was born in north Surrey to Cedric Thornberry, a Visiting Professor of War Studies at King’s College London, and his wife Sallie Thornberry, a teacher. Her parents divorced when Thornberry was aged seven and she and her two brothers lived with her mother who later became a Labour Councillor and Mayor. Her father went on to become United Nations Assistant Secretary General and to work for NATO.”

    Poor working class lass who managed from nothing. Does the pay as United Nations Assistant Secretary General for NATO mean he can’t support his children and pay their housing? We paid for the lot!

    • Cedric Henry Reid Thornberry (June 22, 1936 – May 6, 2014) was an international lawyer and Assistant-Secretary-General of the United Nations, for which he worked for 17 years. He spent most of his United Nations service in international peace keeping in Cyprus, the Middle East, ex-Yugoslavia and Somalia.

      Thornberry was born in Belfast, where he attended Finaghy Primary School and the Methodist College. He studied law at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and graduated first with a BA and then with an LLB and became a barrister in 1959. Thornberry taught at Cambridge University from 1958, and at the London School of Economics from 1960. He was a foreign correspondent for The Guardian in Greece and was a practising human rights lawyer. Originally from Northern Ireland, he was one of the founders of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in 1968. In the 1970s he represented many applicants at the European Court of Human Rights. He was the father of Labour Party Member of Parliament Emily Thornberry.

      Cedric Thornberry joined the United Nations in 1978 and became involved in the internationally-supervised settlement of the Namibia question. He became Chief of staff of the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG). During UNTAG, he was the Director of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Namibia, Martti Ahtisaari, and responsible for co-ordination of the Mission’s day-to-day political operation.

      Thornberry also served as the Senior Political and Legal Adviser to UNFICYP and to UNTSO, and was Director of Administration and Management at UN headquarters for 4 years. He was Director of UNPROFOR Civil Affairs at the beginning of the Mission in February 1992, and shortly afterwards became Assistant-Secretary-General of the United Nations when he was made Deputy Chief of Mission of the 50,000-person UN operation in ex-Yugoslavia as well as senior negotiator with all of the Balkan parties. Until the appointment of an SRSG, he was in charge of UNPROFOR’s political, civil, legal and police activities. He remained head of UNPROFOR’s Civil Affairs until early 1994.

      He was a consultant to NATO in the exercises it conducts with the Partnership for Peace countries and a visiting professor at King’s College in London.

      Cedric Thornberry published several books and contributed many articles for publication in international journals, including:

      “A Nation Is Born: The Inside Story of Namibia’s Independence”

      “The UN Security Council: From the Cold War to the 21st Century”

      “Peacekeepers, Humanitarian Aid, and Civil Conflicts”

      “Development of International Peace-keeping”

      “Peace Keeping, Peace Making and Human Rights”

      • evad666

        Ha the joys of searches on Google. Suck it up Mathew

  • tolpuddle1

    The mob “got” Emily Thornberry ?

    You mean she was lynched, or torn limb from limb ?

    No, even worse than that ! – she is no longer a member of the Shadow Cabinet.

  • nogginthenog

    Parris says that IT can now turbo-charge national hypocrisy. The hypocrisy in this case was Emily Thornberry’s, holding a high position in the Labour party but sneering at a working-class man. But in a move typical of his kind, Parris tries to accuse her attackers of hypocrisy instead. “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Appropriately enough, that is from the Gospel of Matthew.

    • Mike

      The classic liberal progressive tactic of making the ‘abuser’ the ‘victim’ but it doesn’t work anymore thank goodness !

    • Damaris Tighe

      Your name has taken me back to the tales of Noggin the Nog, ‘as they were told as they sat around their log fires’. Funny how I had no problem recalling that, but couldn’t remember something from last week!

  • Mike

    “For the mob is fickle and knows no single creed.”

    Hardly Mr. Parris as has been amply demonstrated in the run up to the Clacton and R&S by-elections where the massed forces of MSM (including your good self) tried their best to smear UKIP on a daily basis but the internet forums allowed the people to decide otherwise.

    The creed that the ‘mob’ knows so well are the sort of BS and lies that drip daily supporting Cameron in his lame attempts to show his puny muscles at Brussels chiefs. That same creed smelt the hypocrisy of Andrew Mitchell calling the police ‘plebs’ and now a repeat performance from the other side of the house with Emily Thornberry doing her own version of plebgate.

    You’re right in one respect that neither were great sins as they go although it might have cost Mitchell dear in his pocket but just as neither showed respect to the electorate, we now show equal contempt towards them and all who support the unacceptable faces of LibLabCon.

    Let they who are without sin cast the first stone but if you’re up to your neck in hypocrisy as many are in Westminster, the ‘mob’ will seek you out and do unto you as you have to others !

    • evad666

      Can we get a petition up to get the Pavement access to Downing Street formally called Pleb Gate with a nice Westminster Crest on it, after all we do Have a Traitors Gate elsewhere in London?

  • AJAX

    That “Mob” – as you describe us – is England, Parris.

    Vote UKIP.

    • EnosBurrows

      You are not my England.

  • Hippograd

    There’s a simple solution. Matthew should decide. As a gay ex-MP who’s comfortable with immigration, hobnobs with the movers and shakers, holidays in Europe (and would hate to lose those links), doesn’t visit tattoo parlours or wear trainers, and (most important of all) has his future ahead of him, not behind, who better to guide us assorted, plebs, pub-goers and scratchcard addicts? The first thing Matthew will do, I hope, is lead us all in a chorus of: “Sajid Javid for PM! He’s brown, you know!”

  • mrs smith

    Mathew Parris has implicitly equated English people with barbarism.

    • evad666

      As the Duke of Wellington is reputed to have said,” I don’t know what they do to the French sir, but they put the fear of God in me.”

  • perdix

    Part of the problem is that lazy journalists are now keen to repeat whatever outrage/gossip/scandal appears on the Facebook/Twittersphere. TV editors are equally responsible. It’s all about selling newspapers/ tv advertising instead of intelligent discourse.

  • gaudiumcertaminis

    Mr Parris…. This is a mince too far !

  • EnosBurrows

    Excellent piece.

  • Thornberry was caught bang to rights. As one of those in the forefront of that mob, I have no regrets – she’s a smug, arrogant and authoritarian creep, and she let her guard down; wallop, Twitter smacked her one. Good. So far as I’m aware Guido’s Harry Cole was first to RT her, I picked up on that and threw back a little twt that was picked up by the DM, that’s when it got fun, and that all happened within three minutes.

    So Matthew, you’re right that speed matters, but what also matters, hugely, is *content*. Those who can make an impact in 140 characters will.

    Of course, you’re also right that this is a terrible thing, but it is irreversible, and the mainstream media, and mainstream politicians are propelling it. As we have seen, if the truth won’t fit comfortably into 140 chars, but the lie will, then the lie wins. It’s around the world before the truth is into its second para of explanations.

    Brevity dear boy, brevity is about to become all.

    • Mike

      As I’ve pointed out before many times, LibLabCon don’t get it and neither does the MSM when it comes to the spin & lies they try to propagate in todays environment of the internet. The posters on social media sites hold biased reporting to account and whilst theres maybe 100 or so political journalists weaving their stories, there’s hundreds of thousands within the electorate ready to pounce at a minutes notice on some disingenuous article they disagree with for political reasons.

      Its very difficult for ministers to bury bad news these days as pre-internet it would take months to surface. Now, its out there within hours if not minutes and that is why UKIP is so successful as there’s a lot of unpaid contributors outing Cameron over all of his lies to do with the EU and he’ll never get his message across as we can all prove its a mess of lies.

      Long gone are the days of LibLabCon controlling the press and getting their carefully scripted policies in the public domain as nowadays, most of the press is an irrelevance and just a starting point for everyone else to shoot down lying politicians. You would have thought Westminster kept up with whats happening in the real world but as we all know, they live in their own bubble and refuse to leave it.

      • evad666

        I noted Owen Jones was still trying to push the Emily Thornberry was a working class lass on BBC today. Give us a break.

        • zoid

          she’s only a little bit less working clalss than jonesy himself….son of an it lecturer and a public sector worker…

          neither of them are working class and neither have done a day’s graft in their lives.

    • flippit

      So why is it a terrible thing? And you do sound very pleased with yourself, you clever boy!

      • I was very pleased with myself, yes. It’s a terrible thing because the 140 character diktat is destroying political debate. It was already dying, but this kills it. From now on, if you can’t put your entire detailed and nuanced policy into 140 chars, it won’t work. The vermin with 140 char lies, smears and underminings will win.

  • Scheveningen

    You might also remember the twitter mob that was stirred up by Stephen Fry when Jan Moir dared to question the gay life-style of Stephen Gately.

  • flippit

    I think Matthew Parris needs to get out more and start writing about something more akin to the “troof” as the nasty mob would say, than about himself, because it’s clear now, that it’s all about him.

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    Mathew is just frightened by the fact regular people can strike back against the establishment, which, he surely knows, includes hacks such as himself.

  • rightrightright

    The mob referred to is actually the Fourth Estate which makes mountains out of molehills for money. Matthew Parris is a prime example of such hucksters.

  • rockylives

    So the antonym to “multiculturalist” is “racist”? Oh dear Matthew, I hope no-one gets that line going on Twitter…

  • English Majority

    The vicious, murderous, savage sections of the ‘mob’ are the blacks, Muslims and Leftists.

    This is why people who speak facts and reality about Islam, multiculturalism and immigration are destroyed, arrested or killed.

    You see, Matthew, you’re utterly failing to realise the fundamental thing that’s happening: When you bring the vast Third World hordes into a civilised White nation, said nation begins to become the Third World. Ruled by brown and black corruption and GibsMeDats. Further: when said brown and black hordes colonise the cities, and thus the nations media and political base, it gives them almost full power to direct/manipulate the feral, Third World online mob rule that now dictates this country.

    Conclusion: You wanted disgusting, savage, life-destroying multiculturalism and immigration; now you see the direct consequences of it.

    If we’d remained a White nation, none of this would be happening, both online and in life.

  • ADW

    Pathetic rot Parris. Thornberry tried to insinuate that the owner of the house was a racist – the worst possible cuss in the metropolitan elite vocabulary. She was called to account by the vapid wimp that is Miliband, who tried to look tough and like a leader for the first time in his pitiful tenure. The rest of us chortled at a couple of effete snobs who have never had a job in their life getting worried because they might lose yet more votes from those they have always taken for granted.

    But let’s not be smug – the tactic labour has pursued for 17 years has been to replace white van man with anything but white immigrant man, purely to secure its own votes. This will continue apace if Miliband ever gets a sniff of power.

  • evad666

    Oh dear we must not allow the proletariat a voice as it may compromise the cosy position of the political elite and their effete commentariat.
    Yes Mathew the peasants are revolting we have had enough of the mismanagement of Government and the now quite blatant corruption of the ruling elite.
    You and your kind have imported anyone from anywhere to create a corrupt medieval rotten borough for your own gratification.
    You have forgotten one rule governments should never forget, in this country never ever push the yeoman classes around those who do have invariably been destroyed by them.
    We lopped the head of a monarch in the past.
    We currently have 3170 underage victims of muslim sex gangs across 17 English towns and cities and a rising tide of violence from EU thugs who have been gifted residence here.

    • The Master

      Great post and sums up the poor argument of Paris perfectly

    • Redneck

      Exactly as I feel, beautifully summarised: we shall go down with our boots on.
      The poison of multiculturalism is finished for the United Kingdom: we shall not surrender the legacy handed down by our blessed forebears.

  • Tom M

    The test for Miliband to decide whether Emily Thornberry’s photograph of white van man is a good or bad thing is to ask (given he had the appropriate apparatus) would Kier Hardy have done this?

    • The Master

      I’m not sure Keir Hardie would be happy about any comparison with this idiot

      • Bill_der_Berg

        It’s off topic, but I recently read about how Keir Hardie reacted to East European immigration into his neck of the woods. It is not what I expected.

  • Polly Radial

    If there’s a mob going after this lazy, tedious, liberal-left, urban hipster hack – count me in.

    • Yet that same liberal left are strangely quiet about the witch-hunt over Myleene Klass – while crying up Jack Munroe.

      • Polly Radial

        Must be Klass war.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    It is reassuring that some people are impervious to the tactics of the mob.

  • John Smith

    Most think that the hypocrite Thornberry had been riding for a fall all along.
    But because you & her are part of the London elite you will try & defend her actions

  • monsieur_charlie

    I couldn’t finish this stuff but would like to know if he “likes” the English flag.

  • JonBW

    The thing is, though, that these ‘cybermobs’ are nearly roused to frenzy by the media.

    We know that the elite despise a huge section of our population; we know that they spend an inordinate amount of time chattering about trivia from the Westminster bubble and the world of slebs; and we know exactly what we think of them.

  • MC73

    Reading the first volume of Charles Moore’s Thatcher biography, I found a brief passage which described how Parris almost single-handedly derailed her 1979 election campaign with a snobby, patronising letter written to a woman who had written to Maggie to complain about her council housing.

    His drivel on these pages shows he has learned nothing in the ensuing decades and remains the same snobbish, patronising, worthless ar$ehole that nearly let Labour in all those years ago.

  • William Clark

    Emma Thornberry is a despicable ‘socialist’ snob, self-righteous and self-congratulatory to the point of nausea. She got what she deserved. All Labour politicians are despicable, hypocritical, self-serving demagogues.

  • Coming from a sneering journo who probably contributed the most to the Tories loss in Clacton, we’ll take, as the oft repeated PMQ statement has it, no lessons from you. Nobody does fauxtrage like the liberal set, yet no one does outrage against the plebian opinion like the liberal set either. And then you dare to feign objectivity, neutrality and superiority?

  • 70sgirly

    What’s up Matthew, don’t you approve of the plebs reacting to being sneered at? Emily Thornberry’s #imagefromRochester was actually a little more subtle than your slagging off of Clacton and it’s “ghastly” inhabitants in The Times, but it was the same condescending snobbery.

    Yes the mob, is back, no one has been lynched yet, but Twitter mobs have been granted excessive influence, encouraged by the political elite, while they thought they had control over them. But you see, people are getting wise to this little game and it’s no longer just, motivated and well organised political activists that can raise a flash mob, and manipulate the agenda, almost anyone can do it.

    So now ideological zealots are using this tool to ruin people or cow them into silence. It’s not dragging us back to the street mobs of the 18C, it’s dragging us back to the hysteria of “she’s a witch” and of “blasphemy” and it won’t end well.

  • Malus Pudor

    Parris…your wrist is so limp that I find it difficult to imagine that you even managed to raise it to the keyboard to write this idiotic drivel….

    You are a wretched queenly has-been and of no use to whatever political affiliation that you now espouse….

    Begone and plague us no longer !

  • vieuxceps2

    “Racists and multiculturalists alike”-Your words Mr. P. so you obvously believe that anyone who does not support multiculturalism is ipso facto a racist.I’m not sure any longer what being a racist is as it’s used so widely, but I do remember that Mr. Cameron and Frau Merkel both gave speeches saying that they had ceased to regard multiculturalism as a Good Thing. Does that, in the light of your words, mean that you consider the two of them to be “racists”?

    There is her brother in a news story from 2006 getting his arms around his stolen ginger cat he called Ohio in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Apparently rich people from out of town stole it claiming he didn’t care about pussy.
    And there is his advert for a photographic display of his in 2000 where he describes himself as “gay photographer and house painter Ben Thornberry of Provincetown, Massachusetts. Involvement in political activism in Africa; His role in documenting the civil rights and anti-war movement in the U.S.; Upcoming photography show.”

    So he describes himself variously as “gay activist photojournalist house painter who “now works for a charity that helps disadvantaged young people find work in the construction industry”. Interested in helping young disadvantaged lads who need money. How sweet of her brother. A community activist. Thank goodness.

  • Diggery Whiggery

    Oh come one Matthew, no-one of the twitter mob bullied her into resigning, they just ridiculed her and rightly so, in the same way that the general public has always mocked politicians. Twitter just makes it easier to mock and harder for politicians to ignore it or remain unaware of it.

    Compare the general good humour directed at Thornberry with the sinister lefty attempts to get Mylene Klaas sacked just because she was right about taxation.

    Anyway, as Thornberry demonstrated repeatedly on BBC QT, there was nothing she liked better than to sneer, until of course Michael Gove gave her a battering and made her look like a prize pillock, since when we’ve seen and heard little of her, thankfully.

    Lefties are the first to use the hysteria of the twitter mob to get their way so it’s nice to see one be on the wrong end of it for once. Long may it continue.

  • Richard Reeves

    I heard you this morning on Radio 4 Today spouting utter rot. What a complete twat you are!

  • AverageGuyInTheStreet

    There was a time when Parris almost seemed to make sense. Perhaps he just likes being obtuse and ruffling feathers and doesn’t actually mean anything he writes?

    • EsseQuamHaberi

      You think he lunches with Dan Hodges then?

  • EsseQuamHaberi

    If Twitter can save us from Thornberry, all hail the mighty internet. Actually, what Parris and Thornberry hate is that the net gives voice to ordinary people, the kind who dont think like them, talk like them, or walk along with their noses high in the air.
    It doesnt matter if you pack each and every one of them off to Clacton where you dont have to see them Matthew, they still have a voice and know how to be heard. The fact that you dislike that so much is both amusing and telling.

  • Ron Todd

    To the ruling liberal elite we are all equal except the white working class who are less equal their client immigrant and public sector groups who are more equal and the ruling class who are more equal again.

  • jazz606

    I don’t possess a white van, nor do I festoon my house with the St Georges cross. However I’m free to do so without some half wit politician plastering a picture of it all over the Internet.
    It’s a simple point really.

  • Robertus Maximus

    One aspect of voting UKIP which adds that extra “frisson”, is the fact that it makes Matthew Parris even more desperate and spiteful that his cosy little privileged Westminster-centric world, which has brought this country low, is having its death knell rung – loud and clear.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    We should not forget just how toxic the traditional media can be. It was not that long ago that the press, including at least one broadsheet, managed to convince many of its readers that an innocent man had committed a murder. The feeling against him ran so high that he was advised that it was unsafe even to go shopping.

    Of course, the campaign may have boosted newspaper sales, which is what matters in Great Britain plc.

  • jesseventura2

    Where are you on Tony Blair being fined fifty pounds at Bow street magisistrates court in 1983 for importuning?

  • edithgrove

    They do themselves in, the mob has nothing to do with it. Usually it’s suicide by the second or third mis-step, not the first. Boris was bright enough to do a walk of shame. Mitchell chose death by libel action and Thornberry pantomimed out a ‘working-class builder brother’, who turns out to be an acclaimed photo-journalist who chums around with Andrew Sullivan in Provincetown. How thick can they be, how foolish their advisors, and how foolish they must think we are.

  • Rhys

    Matthew Parris deplores the existence of a virtual mob. But since it can only create a virtual uproar in cyberspace, only the tweeting community has anything to fear.

  • Mukkinese


    The fact is that large organisations, and in particular government organisations, spend a great deal of money on online “opinion forming”. That includes employing hundreds of people to post on Social networks and forums, like this one, to set the “background music” of debates.

    We know very well that the Tory party has an army of Cyber-drones cutting and pasting Tory-central propaganda all over the internet. The repetition is boring and does what it is meant to; kill debate.

    No doubt other parties have similar groups, though without the Tory funds they are not as evident…

  • It gets stranger and stranger with the brother…Famous people know him and said nothing…
    “Real Name: Ben Thornberry
    Profile: British photojournalist who has specialized in covering demonstrations, particularly those involving AIDS activism.”

    Looks like he was in the music industry too in the 80’s and 90’s?
    ” Marc Almond – Mother Fist And Her Five Daughters ‎(LP,Album Cover)”
    “I started photographing Act Up, the AIDS activist movement, in 1988. I was working in the photo library of Magnum…”
    Andrew Sullivan.

  • Jonathan Elms

    Been to Clacton recently?

  • Jonathan

    Emily Thornberry’s attitude further evidenced Labour’s abandonment of the working-class. Ed – a weak leader – had to sack her for fear of being called weak if he didn’t. So she may have been treated a little harshly, but only a little.

    The tweet that did for her was the one she sent – not any other.

  • Kevin T

    The bottom line, Matthew, is the snobbery of yourself and Emily Thornberry and the rest of the London political set would be tolerable if you had any talent for running the country. Since you don’t, and the establishment you represent has only made our lives and our country worse while feathering your own nests, we don’t feel too bad about picking you off when you give us a clear target. Hopefully you will be next.

  • William Frisby

    “…a warning to… feminists and sexists, racists and multiculturalists alike.”

    On what planet are feminists the opposite of sexists, and racists the opposite of multiculturalists?

    An interesting insight here into Mr. Parris’s world-view.

  • XH558

    I wonder why Mr Parris’ twitter ID appears at the top of his articles, when he wrote his “farewell cruel twitter” note there as long ago as May. It is obvious, from this piece and others, that his taste for technologies of that kind is unlikely to return. Be that as it may, the time when public opinion could be much influenced by the likes of him pirouetting across the printed page and our tv screens have vanished.

  • Snag

    “And there but for the grace of God go I”

    Here’s hoping.

  • wayne

    Number one name for babies in the UK this year and for the foreseeable future is MOHAMMAD. Thanks lefty scum.keep up the good work.

  • wayne

    At last the long suffering working classes have a big stick to beat the country destroying elite with. Funny how If someone so much my mentions a colour the lefty rent a mob go to town in a frighteningly violent threatening way with no such articles. Just look what happened to.Farage in Scotland and the west Minster media with the elite guffawing all the way. Double standards as usual one rule for the vermin and one rule the working classes. I long for the time when we march on London with our pitch forks to route out the evil there.

  • O’Chamberlain LordO’PinkLines

    Yet more evidence of the dying breed of “Western left-wing liberal elites” under attack.

    They have good reason to feel threatened, for we now see quite clearly “left-wing liberalism” as an enforced social construct decaying across the globe. From a bankrupted American system, to a disintigrating, dying Europe, to the shores of LATAM superpower Brazil, to a returning reinsurgent dominant Russia, to Modi’s powerful anti-liberal vision for India, to an energy rich and defiant, authoritarian Iran, to the rising dominant global superpower of the 21st century China and finally the resource rich Africa growing in confidence looking to the East not the West for answers.

    Western “Left-wing liberalism” is rapidly being rejected across the globe in favour of more diverse/robust methods of rule that challenge the status quo.

    I always remember what the late great physicist Richard Feynman said about the nature of reality over PR during the challenger disaster in his report to NASA.

    “for a successful technology…(reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature can not be fooled)”

    That statement of fact could easily be applied to left-wing liberals desperate to enforce global equality over the forces of nature. You are losing and you’re losing in a massive way.

    It suited the West when it was resource rich to dominate and now the shoe’s on the other foot may you be remined that we are NOT equal and trying to enforce equality over rivals who are becoming more powerful will only lead to the destruction of both you and your bankrupted hypocritical ideology.

    UKIP are now the growing UK based physical manifestation of natural consequence against enforced progressive Western left-wing liberalism.

    To the liberal ruling class, your under attack from the whole world including your home turf, it’s clear your days are numbered.

  • yaosxx

    So that famous adage “Let them eat cake” doesn’t appear to be working as well as it should to?
    Desole monsieur Parris, desole!

  • David Stanley

    The mob as you call it, is in fact the people of the UK who have now seen just how the LabLibConGreens have betrayed us, the people of the UK selling us out to the EUSSR.

  • Full Name

    It was perhaps not the manner in which Ms. Emily Thornberry exited left of stage of the puppet show, but the mean average of when she was going to exit the puppet show stage.

    >”The world is a stage but poorly cast.”

    You might well extend that after reading the media and hearing the politician’s speeches:-

    >”And poorly written too.”

  • The face of the modern Tory party.

    He is making himself a laughing stock with his jaw-dropping arrogance and sneering contempt.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    This would not have happened when Alastair Campbell was running New Labour. He kept a close eye on the activities of his minions.

  • lindzen4pm

    Odd that Mr. Parris regards himself as a victim, when he is part of the New Authoritarianism that determines what we may or may not say, do, think, display outside our property. Contravene their rules at your peril, fellow racists, homophobes, islamophobes, MGBGT haters or whatever.

  • mandelson

    Death by a thousand tweets is ok when it destroys those the smug liberal elite despises. I found the hysteria and witchhunt against Ched Evans more disturbing than that against Emily of Islington.

  • Cymrugel

    The people are finally starting to rebel Mr Parris. Don’t complain, you’ve had a good run.

    You see Britain is in fact a democracy – I know its easy to forget sometimes; what with the cosy buggins turn two party system; a voting system that allows a party with barely 40% of the vote a massive majority in the house; “safe” seats that might as well be called rotten boroughs; an upper house full of party placemen and the inbred descendants of landed gentry and much more – and yet it is so.

    I am afraid that the hegemony that has led us for so long has finally overplayed its hand. The concentration of all national life in a few small areas of London and the open dismissal of the rest of the UK and its inhabitants has not gone unnoticed.

    The Scots were the first to lose patience and the London elite have had to promise them the earth to save the union and there are now rumblings in the Shires as the English voters show their displeasure through UKIP. It’s all unravelling pretty fast and I fear its really to late to step back from the brink. People want change and they are going to have it one way or the other.

    I realise that you would far rather live in a land where the likes of us – as described in your delightful article on the good citizens of Clacton – would just crawl in a corner and die, but I am afraid they feel they have a right to call the shots in their own land.

    Britain belongs to its people ; including those settle here on our terms and make common cause with the rest of the population. It is not the private property of upper class twits self serving politicians or smarmy little carpet baggers on the make.

    Change is coming – and not before time.

  • CharleyFarleyFive

    Does anyone care what Parris thinks any more, in lieu of his remarks following his sojourn to Clacton?

  • Ringstone

    Parris in contemplation about dodging the bullet over his snide little piece about Clacton? If he’d been done over by the mob it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving soul.

  • Tim Morrison

    The sense of grievance here is wonderful to behold – the patrician is angry that ordinary people object to their elected representatives disparaging them – or to women complaining against men promoting sexual violence.

    He complains about ‘amplification’ but likening what happens to people like him with lynch mobs is almost comical. I see no Gordon rioters. I see no revolutionaries parading heads on pikes.

    We should just keep quiet, vote for the approved parties and eat our cereal.

  • Richard Reeves

    I hope he’s squirming like a slug that has run into a patch of salt… he should squirm if he is brave enough to read the comments posted here?

  • Innit Bruv

    Matthew, it’s already here! Some of it lurks in this publication’s comments section.

  • Sean L

    The usual wittering pretending to insight but devoid of it. This week’s subject, the internet. But this *is* the internet. Yes it represents a step-change in the dissemination of opinion. But who on here doesn’t recognise that already? As for Emily Thornberry, what was her Tweet other than meat for her own mob? Just because it happens to be your mob as well. . . You’re getting a taste of your own medicine, mate. She and you alike.

  • masterful16

    Or don’t post pictures of white van man’s house with his English flags on the outside. People are responsible for their own twitter posts. Mocking others is ugly whether it is on twitter or anywhere else. Twitter and other socical media outposts are monitored by press and individuals alike – you take the consequences accordingly – a front bench politician should have a bit more savvy than that.

  • It’s not coming for me – I am the virtual mob! I’ve got 1500 disqus accounts!

  • Erhhm, where is the unctuous toad? Must be pigging out and weeping into her bag of Luxe Gold Cupcakes ($1,227.70 each), White Truffle Popcorn, Pizza Royale 007′ – £2,150 and family bag of Toffee Crisps (that’s working class)..

  • Barbouze

    We all know that the political class has nothing but contempt for us…just isn’t very clever to openly reveal it.

  • Terry Field

    Plainly the mob is in the ascendent. There is a rejection of science when its message is inconvenient, as with climate change; There is a rejection of economics by all governments since 1945 to pretend real work and balanced budgets are needed for sustainable life; there is a rejection of any discussion on human population size management when it is plain we are going to exhaust the Earth’s resources and rape the planet and all other forms of life.
    Human life is a self-indulgent set of absurd positions.
    If you doubt that, listen to Ed Balls, Milliband, the climate denier cretins and the churches.