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This Diane Abbott Business - Racist Comments?


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MP Diane Abbott 'sorry' over Twitter race comments

 

 

Shadow Health Minister Diane Abbott has apologised for any offence caused by comments she made on Twitter, after claims they were racist.

 

She said she had not meant to generalise when she wrote: ''White people love playing 'divide & rule'".

 

It was a response to criticism of media use of "black community leaders" after the Stephen Lawrence murder trial.

 

Labour's Chuka Umunna said party leader Ed Miliband had told Ms Abbott her remarks were "unacceptable".

 

In a statement, Ms Abbott said: "I apologise for any offence caused.

 

"I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people. I do not believe in doing that."

 

'Out of context'

 

Ms Abbott, the first black woman to be elected as an MP, had earlier tweeted that her remark had been "taken out of context".

 

Continue reading the main story

How the exchange unfolded

Bim Adewunmi: I do wish everyone would stop saying 'the black community' though. WHICH ONE?

 

Bim Adewunmi: Clarifying my 'black community' tweet: I hate the generally lazy thinking behind the use of the term. Same for 'black community leaders'.

 

Diane Abbott: I understand the cultural point you are making. But you are playing into a "divide and rule" agenda.

 

Bim Adewunmi: Maybe. I find it frustrating that half the time, these leaders are out of touch with black people they purport to represent.

 

Diane Abbott: White people love playing "divide & rule" We should not play their game #tacticasoldascolonialism

 

Bim Adewunmi: I don't advocate 'divide and rule'. But I wish we could deal more effectively with issues without resorting to monolithic view.

 

Diane Abbott: Ethnic communities that show more public solidarity & unity than black people do much better #dontwashdirtylineninpublic

Shadow Business Secretary Mr Umunna told the BBC: "Ed Miliband has spoken to her this morning and made it very clear in no uncertain terms that the contents of the tweet were unacceptable.

 

"If Diane believed the words as they were expressed and she had not apologised then Ed Miliband would obviously have taken the requisite action.

 

"For us as politicians, Twitter is a very useful tool to communicate with people, but it has its perils."

 

The original remark from Ms Abbott was a reaction to a conversation on Twitter about media coverage in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder trial.

 

It was a response to journalist Bim Adewunmi, who complained about the use of the terms "the black community" and "black community leaders" in the media.

 

Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Ms Abbott, who stood for Labour leader in the 2010 contest, remarked: "White people love playing 'divide & rule'. We should not play their game" followed by "#tacticasoldascolonialism" - a way Twitter users flag up keywords and topics.

 

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna: "The contents of the tweet were clearly unacceptable"

She added: "Ethnic communities that show more public solidarity & unity than black people do much better."

 

The comments sparked much criticism from other Twitter users and she updated her page later to say: "Tweet taken out of context. Refers to nature of 19th Century European colonialism. Bit much to get into 140 characters." The original remark was later removed.

 

In a statement, the Labour Party said: "We disagree with Diane's tweet.

 

"It is wrong to make sweeping generalisations about any race, creed, or culture.

 

"The Labour Party has always campaigned against such behaviour - and so has Diane Abbott."

 

'Great history'

 

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Ms Abbott's comments on twitter were a "stupid and crass generalisation" and that she should apologise and explain her remarks.

 

Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Radio 5 live: "This is racism.

 

"If this was a white member of Parliament saying that all black people want to do bad things to us he would have resigned within the hour or be sacked.

 

"For a shadow minister to hold these sort of views is intolerable, it is wrong, she needs to go."

 

Another Conservative MP, Rehman Chishti, told BBC Radio 4's World at One the comments were "completely unacceptable" and amounted to "a racist comment".

 

"If there was a strong leader in the Labour Party he would have taken further action against that."

 

However another Conservative MP, Robert Halfon wrote on Twitter: "The Right should know better than to get all PC re @HackneyAbbott - disagree strongly, but let voters decide. Freedom of speech & all that."

 

But she was supported by the senior Labour MP Keith Vaz, who told the BBC she was doing an "excellent job" as shadow public health minister and had a "great history of supporting the anti-racism struggle".

 

"She's done the right thing in withdrawing her statement and apologising for the offence that's been caused."

 

 

Is she racist or has it been more reckless tweeting?? :undecided:

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Divide and rule was a cornerstone of British Imperialism. If it was an historical view she would be completely correct. That powers that be are still undoubtedly white however and no doubt their philosophy is unchanged but their focus is probably less on colour as we, the British proletariat are probably easier divide in other ways.

 

Adewunmi has a point imo. 'Blacks' seem to grouped together in one media bite sized chunk.

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Disgrace if she's not sacked over this.

 

Would have happened by now. The only thing that could still happen is she resigns, but I doubt it.

 

Her comments are ridiculous IMO, and as others have said if this was a white politician saying 'black people love [negative connotation]' then they'd rightly be slaughtered. It's especially daft considering the conversation she was having. :lol:

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Disgrace if she's not sacked over this.

 

Would have happened by now. The only thing that could still happen is she resigns, but I doubt it.

 

Her comments are ridiculous IMO, and as others have said if this was a white politician saying 'black people love [negative connotation]' then they'd rightly be slaughtered. It's especially daft considering the conversation she was having. :lol:

 

Yep.

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Yeah, she's mostly right, and you can't give it the 'If a white person said that' rule.

Firstly, people of an African or Caribbean background ARE prejudiced against.

Secondly, They ARE treated differently, by both the police and by people of a Caucasian heritage.

Thirdly, they DO have a right to be fucked off with this behaviour.

I would be. You would be.

 

The fuss is politically motivated for sure, Abbott is hated by the Tories.

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Guest Chubby Jason

Yeah, she's mostly right, and you can't give it the 'If a white person said that' rule.

Firstly, people of an African or Caribbean background ARE prejudiced against.

Secondly, They ARE treated differently, by both the police and by people of a Caucasian heritage.

Thirdly, they DO have a right to be f***ed off with this behaviour.

I would be. You would be.

 

The fuss is politically motivated for sure, Abbott is hated by the Tories.

She has aspirations of governing a predominantly white country so the comments are totally moronic and out of order. She should have been sacked as soon as she was stupid enough to post them.
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Firstly, people of an African or Caribbean background ARE prejudiced against.

 

Nobody disagrees, but that wasn't part of the discussion.

 

Secondly, They ARE treated differently, by both the police and by people of a Caucasian heritage.

 

Nobody disagrees, but that wasn't part of the discussion either.

 

Thirdly, they DO have a right to be fucked off with this behaviour.

 

Er, nobody disagrees.

 

All of which are completely besides the point, the comments are still incredibly ill-advised. If you're having a discussion about generalisations, you don't then provide your own and add a negative twist. The fact it was in public is the icing on the cake.

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The comments were ill-advised and daft but this is still a storm in a tea cup. She's been bollocked, she's apologised, case closed for me.

 

On a broader note it makes you wonder why people in a position of power expose themselves to potential blunders such as these by signing up to Twitter.

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Guest guinness_fiend

Whilst she has a point, historically, from a colonialism perspective, the comments are misguided at best and can be perceived at racist at worst.  Of course the press are going to vilify her and as a politician, you would expect a bit more common sense to be exercised before the "tweet" button is pressed.

 

If a white MP tweeted "Black people love to shoot each other," based on the (alleged) fact that the majority of gun crimes committed (and reported) in the UK are attributed to the black community, they would be sacked immediately.  And rightly so.  Irrespective of whether the statement is intended as racist or otherwise, it has the potential to be perceived this way and is incendiary by its very nature.

 

Dave has hit the nail on the head.  Politician in "thick as shit" scandal.  Who'd have thunk it?

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Guest guinness_fiend

The comments were ill-advised and daft but this is still a storm in a tea cup. She's been bollocked, she's apologised, case closed for me.

 

On a broader note it makes you wonder why people in a position of power expose themselves to potential blunders such as these by signing up to Twitter.

 

Agreed.  Even the dimmest person knows, for instance, not to slag their employers off on Facebook / Twitter, as sod's law dictates that it is bound to come back and bite you on the arse.

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Another day, another Twitterstorm - this time a "race row" involving Diane Abbott.

 

The Hackney MP tweeted "white people love playing "divide and rule". We should not play their game #tacticasoldascolonialism".

 

Conservative blogs have called for her resignation. Over at ConservativeHome, Paul Goodman writes:

 

Imagine how the Guardian or the BBC would react if a Conservative MP said that "black people love playing 'divide and rule' ".

 

They would be right to do so. Such an MP would be maligning their fellow citizens on a racist basis. This is exactly what Abbott has done.

 

I'm sorry, but this is disingenuous for a number of reasons.

 

Firstly, let's take the facts. As is standard practice in any good Twitterstorm, the comment in question has been completely divorced of its context. Abbott did not make a cup of tea, sit down at her computer, and think: "Do you know what? I think I'll malign white people now."

 

As the hashtag referencing colonialism shows, the comment was made in the context of a political discussion: namely, criticism of black community leaders. The use of the term "white people" here is distinguishing from "black people". She was responding to this tweet: "I find it frustrating that half the time, these leaders are out of touch with black people they purport to represent." Black people/white people.

 

Abbott's choice of words was clumsy , and as an MP she should be more careful. But in this discussion, she is clearly referring to "white people" as a political force in the context of colonialism, not making generalisations about the behaviour of individual white people. Her comments aren't equivalent to, for example, Lauryn Hill supposedly saying that she didn't want "white people" to buy her records.

 

There is no question that she shouldn't have used such a generalised term, which is highly open to misinterpretation. However, the ConHome blog goes so far as to say she has "deliberately provoked hatred of a racial group, and is therefore in breach of the 1986 Public Order Act."

 

Quite apart from the fact that the comment is clearly not inciting racial hatred, the hypothetical white Conservative MP referring to "black people" cannot be a direct comparison. When one racial group is so dominant, both numerically (in Britain) and politically (worldwide), pejorative language simply does not have the same power or resonance. Hence words like "honky" or "goora" (a Hindi word for "white") do not have the same brutal power as words like "nigger" or "Paki". Most of those tweeting outrage are white and will not have experienced the pain that such words and the assumptions that go with them can inflict.

 

Abbott's choice of wording was stupid. It has offended people, and she should apologise, particularly given her role as an elected representative. Indeed, ethnic minorities have a duty to make sure they don't fall into the same trap as the racism they are working against by making lazy generalisations about "white people". But that legislation exists not just because of the words -- "black people", "Asians", "Jews" -- but because of the centuries of oppression and huge tide of contemporary racism that those words, and the way they are used, represent. This outrage has a hint of tit-for-tat -- "we're not allowed to say these things, so why should you be allowed to?" Let's not pretend, though, that what Abbott actually said is as serious as most instances of racism we see in public life.

 

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2012/01/white-abbott-black-context

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I doubt the silly bint is racist, but what a thing to say. A white MP would be torn apart all over the media for saying that about black people.

 

I fucking give up...

Your point of "Black people are prejudiced against more so they have a larger right to make sweaping racist generalisations than white people do" doesn't really hold up tbh. A white MP would have been rightfully sacked by now due to the sheer idiocy of the comments, it's not the first time the bitter old cow has been quoted for this shit either.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8997510/Diane-Abbott-taxi-drivers-refuse-to-pick-up-black-passengers.html

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Should be sacked immediately tbh. You cant claim she shouldnt be because black people are subject to prejudice. That doesnt mean black people can be 'let off' with alleged racist comments. If it's true equality we're striving for she should be dealt with entirely with regards to the comments she made, which were clearly unacceptable. 

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