A social media post by the Conservative Party’s official account has sparked a row among Tory MPs, who accused the party of being “childish” and “beneath us”. The post, which was shared on Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday, featured a picture of Labour leader Keir Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner with the caption “Another day, another Labour U-turn”. The post also included a list of policy issues that the Tories claimed Labour had flip-flopped on, such as Brexit, free school meals, and Covid passports.
The post was intended to mock Labour’s decision to abstain from voting on the government’s plan to raise national insurance by 1.25 percentage points to fund health and social care. However, some Tory MPs were not amused by the post, and expressed their displeasure on a WhatsApp group chat.
Who said what?
According to The National, which obtained screenshots of the WhatsApp chat, several Tory MPs criticised the post and urged the party to delete it. One MP wrote: “This is childish. It is beneath us. Please take it down.” Another MP said: “Agree. It’s not a good look. We have just put up tax and broken a manifesto promise.” A third MP added: “It’s pathetic. Is this really where we are as a party?”
Some MPs also pointed out that the post was factually inaccurate, as Labour had not changed its position on some of the issues listed. For example, Labour had always supported extending free school meals during the pandemic, and had not backed Covid passports for domestic use.
However, not all MPs were unhappy with the post. One MP defended it, saying: “It’s a bit of fun. They are utterly useless.” Another MP said: “It’s a good post. They are ridiculous.”
The post was still online as of Thursday morning, and had received over 2,000 likes and 500 retweets on Twitter, and over 6,000 reactions and 1,000 shares on Facebook.
Why does it matter?
The social media post reflects the ongoing rivalry between the Conservatives and Labour, who are both trying to win over voters ahead of the next general election, which is due by 2024. The post also shows the internal divisions within the Tory party, which is facing backlash from some of its own MPs and supporters over the national insurance hike, which breaks a key manifesto pledge from the 2019 election.
The post also raises questions about the tone and style of political communication in the UK, which some observers have argued has become more negative and polarised in recent years. Some critics have blamed social media platforms for amplifying extreme views and creating echo chambers, while others have blamed politicians for resorting to personal attacks and misleading claims.