Salmond spoof sees downfall of Miliband's Twitter tsar

Social media adviser under fire after posting video online containing an actor playing Hitler

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Indy Politics

A Labour social media adviser has resigned from his position after making a spoof video ridiculing Alex Salmond.

The Labour MP Tom Harris, who was a contender in the recent election of a new party leader north of the border, quit his post as social media tsar after acknowledging that his actions were "an unhelpful distraction".

Mr Harris is well known in politics because of the blog that he maintained for several years full of outspoken and often witty comments about opponents.

His YouTube video landed him in trouble because it used images of an actor playing Adolf Hitler, though the same clip from the same film has been used in hundreds of spoofs in recent years.

The original film was a study of Hitler's last days and includes a famous scene of his losing his temper after receiving bad news from the front. It has become a frequently used means of ridiculing anyone suspected of losing their self-control, including Gordon Brown, by substituting new subtitles.

Mr Harris's version was entitled "Joan's Downfall" after an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament, Joan McAlpine, who accused the SNP's critics of being "anti-Scottish".

The Scottish First Minister is portrayed as being thrown into a fury by the comment because it might give the party a reputation for "Tartan jingoism" and shouting: "Never let them know what we're thinking. Who even gave her permission to think?"So many other spoofs have used this particular scene from Downfall that YouTube removed most of them in 2010, only to have dozens more pop up. This is the first to have political consequences, simply because it was posted by an MP who risked offending those who do not believe that Hitler or the Nazis are humorous subjects.

Mr Harris resigned after being contacted by the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Johann Lamont. Aides of Labour's leader in Westminster, Ed Miliband, said he was not involved.

Mr Harris said: "The video I posted has been a well-worn joke used to parody a range of public figures. I'm not comparing the SNP to the horrors of the Nazis, but the film spoof has been doing the rounds for years.

"However, context is everything and in the context of Joan McAlpine's statements about all political opponents of the SNP being anti-Scottish, my actions have been an unhelpful distraction, for which I apologise."

A spokesman for the SNP said the matter was "hugely embarrassing" for Labour and its MPs.