Michael Gove today defended a ‘salty’ social media post by the Tories that attacked Labour using an image of a BBC presenter giving viewers the middle finger.
The Cabinet minister insisted it was ‘important’ for political parties to ‘engage’ with voters ‘in a variety of different ways’.
A Tory row broke out after the party’s official account on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, recently took aim at Labour over illegal migration.
Using an image of BBC News presenter Maryam Moshiri unwittingly giving the middle finger during a broadcast, it posted: ‘Labour when you ask for their plans to tackle illegal migration.’
Tory moderates, including senior MPs Tobias Ellwood and Alicia Kearns, demanded the removal of the post and claimed it was ‘beneath’ their party.
But, with the Conservatives engulfed in a fresh split over the Rwanda migration plan, those on the Tory Right expressed their approval of the social media post.
Michael Gove defended a ‘salty’ social media post by the Tories that attacked Labour using an image of a BBC presenter giving viewers the middle finger
A Tory row broke out after the party’s official account on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, recently took aim at Labour over illegal migration
Asked about the post on Sky News, Mr Gove said: ‘It’s certainly a salty intervention in public debate.
‘But I think the important thing to bear in mind is that our political conversation takes place in a variety of different ways, on different platforms.
‘And it’s important both to engage people where they are but also, a very powerful point is made is that Labour have nothing to say on the question of illegal migration.
The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary added: ‘I think that anyone who has ever looked at my social media will see that I am no social media ninja.
‘My social media is herbivorous, to put it mildly – but on social media you have a lively debate and that is a powerful contribution to a very lively debate.’
Ms Kearns, who chairs the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee, had demanded the removal of the Tory message when it was posted on Thursday afternoon.
‘Amazed this has not – despite requests – been taken down, it is beneath us,’ she said.
Mr Ellwood also urged the Conservatives’ official X account to ‘please delete this post’.
But the message was shared approvingly by Mr Ellwood’s fellow former minister Jonathan Gullis, who got into a spat with Tory peer Lord Barwell over it.
The social media post was shared approvingly by some Tories including former minister Jonathan Gullis, who got into a spat with Tory peer Lord Barwell over it
The post attracted criticism from some senior Tory MPs, including Alicia Kearns, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Tobias Ellwood, the former defence minister
In BBC News footage that soon went viral, Ms Moshiri was seen raising both her eyebrows and her middle finger as she appeared on camera.
The 46-year-old, who is one of the channel’s chief presenters, quickly realised she was live on air and snatched her hand away before reading out the headlines.
She later issued an apology on social media saying she ‘did not realise’ the moment would be caught on camera and she was ‘sorry if I offended or upset anyone’.
Ms Moshiri said: ‘Hey everyone, yesterday just before the top of the hour I was joking around a bit with the team in the gallery.
‘I was pretending to count down as the director was counting me down from 10-0… including the fingers to show the number.
‘So from 10 fingers held up to one. When we got to 1 I turned finger around as a joke and did not realise that this would be caught on camera.
‘It was a private joke with the team and I’m so sorry it went out on air! It was not my intention for this to happen and I’m sorry if I offended or upset anyone.
‘I wasn’t ‘flipping the bird’ at viewers or even a person really. It was a silly joke that was meant for a small number of my mates.’