Ed Miliband insists 'Labour is still the party of the working people' as he admits Ukip is a 'big challenge'

Labour leader condemned Emily Thornberry's tweet as disrespectful

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The Independent Online

A “furious” Ed Miliband has criticised MP Emily Thornberry as he sought to assure Britain that Labour is still “the party of the working people”.

Writing in The Mirror, Mr Miliband said Ms Thornberry was right to resign after she posted a picture of a house with England flags and a white van parked outside the front in Rochester.

The Labour leader slammed the controversial Tweet, which cost the shadow attorney general her position, for conveying “a sense of disrespect”. 

“Respect is the basic rule of politics and there is nothing unusual or odd about having England flags in your window,” he wrote.

“That is why she was right to resign.”

The Islington South and Finsbury MP found herself accused of snobbery by the family who lived at the address, while Prime Minister David Cameron claimed it showed Labour sneering at patriotic working people. 

Ms Thornberry later apologised for her tweet, saying: “Families in England should fly the England flag with pride!”

Comment: Labour long since betrayed the working class

With the next general election just months away, Mr Miliband has been rushing to reassure working class voters who felt alienated by Ms Thornberry’s tweet that the party still represents their interests.

“The Labour Party was founded as the party of working people. We are the party of working people," he said.

“And we will always remain the party of working people.”

He accepted Ukip presents “a challenge” for the party but insisted it is a challenge he is prepared to meet.

He warned: “They [Ukip] think working mothers aren’t worth as much as men.

“They think the NHS would be better off privatised.

“They think workers' should have fewer rights and bankers' should have bigger bonuses.”

Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who saw his party gain its second by-election victory in six weeks, claimed Ms Thornberry's "dreadful tweet" is "indicative of the modern Labour Party".

Writing in The Independent, he said: "Ms Thornberry not only owns a £3m mansion in trendy North London, but she claims that she’s “never seen anything like it” about the England flags and white van – implying that she rarely ever leaves the cosy constituency of Islington South, where the average income is more than double that of Rochester and Strood – except to grace the halls of the Palace of Westminster, where the basic income is nearly triple that of Rochester and Strood."

He added: "Is it any wonder that Ms Thornberry, Mr Miliband, and indeed Mr Cameron have no idea about the real lives of real people?