Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington in London, has found herself in hot water today over comments made on Twitter, in which she said “white people love playing divide and rule.” Diane Abbott, seen by many as on the left-wing of the Labour party, was born to Jamaican parents in 1953 and was Britain’s first black female MP when elected in 1987.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described her comments as “stupid and crass” and called for her to apologise. Many Conservative MPs have called on Ed Milliband to fire her, such as Nadhim Zahawi who described her comments as “racist”.
Right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes said of the incident: “Cameron sacked Aidan Burley, what will Ed Miliband do about Diane Abbot?” This was in reference to the sacking of Conservative MP Aiden Burley, after being photographed attending a Nazi themed party and chanting Nazi slogans.
However, Abbott defended herself on Twitter saying: “Tweet taken out of context. Refers to nature of 19th century European colonialism. Bit much to get into 140 characters.”
She did later apologise for her remarks, though. Diane Abbott also got in trouble last year for calling Nick Clegg and David Cameron “two posh white boys,” although many others have also made this accusation of them.
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, speaking on the BBC, described her comments as “unacceptable,” but also said “I don’t think that people who know Diane, having been involved in public life for 25 years, will seriously think she is a racist.”
In spite of the outrage at Abbott’s comments, the fact that there are no black members in David Cameron’s cabinet may seem to give her suggestion of white people dividing and ruling some credibility.
By Alex MacDonald