An article from 2012 as stimulus for the refusal of the youth in the play to look outside Wiltshire – I was particularly taken by the mention of St George’s Day…
Labour MP accused of xenophobia after ‘English jobs’ tweet
Barry Sheerman is latest Labour MP to be caught out tweeting – but is freedom of speech suffering?
IS IT wrong for a Member of Parliament to tweet about the awful train station food he has just received? The attention currently surrounding Labour MP Barry Sheerman would suggest the answer is yes – if you go on to comment about the lack of “English staff” serving you.
The member for Huddersfield was rushing to catch an early morning train when he tweeted “just had worst coffee & bacon bap in London at Victoria Station,” to his thousand followers. The message finished: “Why can’t Camden Food Co employ English staff?”
His words irked one Twitter user, Nick Linford, who immediately challenged the MP. “On reflection was that tweet not xenophobic?” Linford asked.
“We are all allowed a small English rant on St George’s day aren’t we?” came the politician’s response. When pushed further, Sheerman wrote: “I am not a xenophobe. I am an MP and I represent the good folk of Huddersfield not Gdansk!”
It is not the first time a Labour politician has been accused of racially charged comments on Twitter. Back in January Dianne Abbott, a black Labour frontbencher, faced calls for her resignation after tweeting that “white people love playing ‘divide & rule'”. She insisted that the quote had been taken out of context, coming as it did amid a much longer exchange, but she eventually made a public apology.
Sheerman has also been forced to explain himself. “I was in a bit of a hurry to get the right train,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “The girl who served me couldn’t speak very good English. She got my order wrong and my change wrong – that’s what made me cross. I know she was from Eastern Europe but I don’t know if it was Lithuania or Poland.”