Yes, we’re fully aware of the irony of a Tory MP ‘labouring’ an anti-Labour meme to death over on Twitter, but that doesn’t make Greg Hands’s decision to continue sharing a letter from former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne MP any less ridiculous.
The letter in question, penned in April 2010 to Mr Byrne’s Conservative successor David Laws, sees him concede “I’m afraid there is no money”, before signing off “kind regards – and good luck!”
More than 13 years later, it’s still being used by the Conservatives as – in their view – ‘evidence’ that the Labour Party is fiscally irresponsible.
This being despite the Tories having Liz Truss’s disastrous ‘mini-budget’ in their party’s history books.
In fact, in May 2015, Mr Byrne wrote a piece for The Observer in which he admitted the letter was “offensive” and “made it easy for our opponents to bash our economic record by bashing me”.
He said: “Members of the public ask: ‘How could you do something so crass? And so bloody offensive?’
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“I’ve asked myself that question every day for five years and believe me, every day I have burnt with the shame of it. Nowhere more than when standing on doorsteps with good comrades, listening to voters demanding to know what I thought I was playing at.
“It was always excruciating.”
Mr Byrne also suggested it was a “friendly” note drawing upon a message Conservative Chancellor Reginald Maulding told Jim Callaghan while walking out of the Treasury in 1964: “Sorry to leave it in such a mess, old cock.”
Despite all this, former business secretary and now Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands can’t help but remind everyone about this piece of paper whenever a good opportunity arises.
When the BBC reported on Thursday that Mr Byrne had used expenses to help fund his unsuccessful campaign for West Midlands mayor, Mr Hands thought it was just too good not to share it again:
So prolific is the Chelsea and Fulham MP in sharing the same image over and over again, that there’s even a dedicated Twitter account known as ‘Greg Hands Letter Counter’ keeping track of every tweet featuring the infamous correspondence.
According to their count, he’s done 40 tweets with the exact same image now.
Here’s a selection:
\u201c40. May 25th WERE BACK BABY for the return I'd expect better though Greg, disappointed in you tbh, you've let us down\u201d— Greg Hands letter counter (@Greg Hands letter counter) 1685023467
\u201c37. May 4th Still not the level I expected as polling day Greg. These better get better\u201d— Greg Hands letter counter (@Greg Hands letter counter) 1683202245
\u201c11. April 4th first instance of not posting alone the NPC has gained a new skill in creativity\u201d— Greg Hands letter counter (@Greg Hands letter counter) 1680806716
\u201c16. April 10th Greg Hands innovating here. Personally I hope all fish and chip shops begin serving chips like this now\u201d— Greg Hands letter counter (@Greg Hands letter counter) 1681128274
At one point, they even shared a direct message in which they asked Mr Hands directly if the letter he keeps sharing is the actual letter or a replica.
Like a true politician, he didn’t answer the question, and instead left the message on read:
\u201cBAD NEWS: A new low for me personally, when inquiring about the letter I've been left on seen by @GregHands. Scandalous and election losing if you ask me\u201d— Greg Hands letter counter (@Greg Hands letter counter) 1681279470
And when they’re not tallying up the appearances of a single letter, the anonymous Twitter user is cracking witty put-downs – such as one about the Conservatives’ poor results in this year’s local elections:
\u201cDear @GregHands \n\nIm afraid theres no councillors left \n\nKind Regards \nAnd good luck\u201d— Greg Hands letter counter (@Greg Hands letter counter) 1683270773
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