Ed Miliband loyalists have hit back at former Labour minister Tony McNulty after his critical tweets directed at the Labour leader were exploited by David Cameron during prime minister's questions.
In what might be a PMQs first, the prime minister managed to get hold of a tweet sent by the former MP which criticised Miliband for "indulging in partisan Westminster Village knockabout". McNulty sent the tweet at 12.13pm and Cameron read it out at 12.20. Just seven minutes from Tweetdeck to the prime minister's notes and the Commons chamber.
According to Financial Times reporter Beth Rigby, the tweet was spotted by Michael Gove on his phone who then passed it to George Osborne. The chancellor then wrote it down on a piece of paper and handed it to Cameron.
Public desperate for PM in waiting who speaks for them - not Leader of Opposition indulging in partisan Westminster Village knockabout.— Tony McNulty (@Tony_McNulty) November 20, 2013
The former Harrow East MP, who lost his seat in 2010, quickly tried to limit the damage with an attack on the prime minister. "Cameron pathetic if he thinks quoting me talking about EdM's pmq performance is a serious attack on EdM - really weak and vacuous attack," he said.
In a series of tweets sent as Cameron and Miliband exchanged blows, McNulty lamented the Labour leader's decision to switch from an attack on the state of childcare to one on the state of the Conservative Party.
"Who advised EdM to go on Tory donors and 'party of the rich' comment? Real shame. Two wasted questions then back to cost of living," he said.
"EdM completely wrong to go on Tory donors and Boles - after good opener on Sure Start and children centres. PM in waiting not backbencher!"
However his defence of his tweets was not enough to avoid the wrath of Miliband loyalists. Lucy Powell, a Manchester MP and former deputy chief of staff to Miliband, suggested McNulty was just bitter for not securing a seat for 2015. And Katie Myler, a former senior media adviser to Miliband simply tweeted: "Well done Tony McNulty."
Maybe @Tony_McNulty is feeling a bit bruised after not getting short listed for Brent Central MP selection— Lucy Powell (@LucyMPowell) November 20, 2013
Well done Tony McNulty.— Katie Myler (@LadyMyler) November 20, 2013
In all of this, one poor Twitter user got caught in the crossfire.
@Tony_McNulty wanna swap Twitter accounts?— Tony McNulty (@tonymcnulty) November 20, 2013