Yorkshire Tea has issued a plea to people to “try to be kind” after it received a deluge of online abuse because the chancellor was photographed with a large packet of its teabags.

The brand had faced a weekend of calls to boycott it after Rishi Sunak, the Conservative MP for the North Yorkshire seat of Richmond, shared the image with the caption: “Quick Budget prep break making tea for the team. Nothing like a good Yorkshire brew.”

Rishi Sunak

Quick Budget prep break making tea for the team. Nothing like a good Yorkshire brew. pic.twitter.com/zhoQM9Ksho

February 21, 2020

Many Twitter users responded by condemning the brand, leading the company to stress that it had not endorsed the association. It tweeted later that day: “Nothing to do with us – people of all political stripes like our brew.”

However, that message seems not to have been enough to silence detractors, as on Monday the curator of Yorkshire Tea’s Twitter account posted a thread saying they had faced a “rough weekend” of angry comments, and calling for a degree of perspective and greater civility online.

“On Friday, the chancellor shared a photo of our tea. Politicians do that sometimes (Jeremy Corbyn did it in 2017),” it said. “We weren’t asked or involved – and we said so the same day. Lots of people got angry with us all the same.

“For some, our tea just being drunk by someone they don’t like means it’s forever tainted, and they’ve made sure we know it.”

The curator of the account said they had “spent the last three days answering furious accusations and boycott calls” while some people had tried to pull the brand into “a political mudfight”.

“It’s easier to be on the receiving end of this as a brand than as an individual,” the thread continued. “There’s more emotional distance and I’ve had a team to support me when it got a bit much. But for anyone about to vent their rage online, even to a company – please remember there’s a human on the other end of it, and try to be kind.”

The account also thanked those who “spoke up” for them and sent messages of support.

Sharing the comments, comedian Mark Watson tweeted: “This thread, in which Yorkshire Tea politely ask people not to abuse them for a photo they had nothing to do with, made me gesture with vague despair into the void.”

The Tory MP for Bishop Auckland, Dehenna Davison, retweeted the thread, calling the whole incident “mad” and imploring people to “calm down”.

The plea for kindness online comes after many people reacted to the death of presenter Caroline Flack by sharing one of her Instagram posts from December in which she implored: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

Thousands took to social media with the hashtag #BeKind in a clamour for change following Flack’s death, pleading with both media organisations and individuals to think more carefully about the impact of their words, especially online.


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