Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Imagine if a white MP had said this....

Imagine if a white MP had said something like this:

"Black people love playing 'divide & rule'. We should not play their game"

There would quite rightly be outrage and calls for apologies for this sort of racist comment. If the MP had a front-bench or ministerial position there would doubtless be calls for resignation or sacking.

Well that didn't happen yesterday. This however did:

In the middle of a discussion on Twitter, Diane Abbott tweeted that. She made a broad generalisation about a group of people in society based on the colour of their skin. That is racism.

As Tory Radio has pointed out, in a further exchange later on, far from apologising she appears to be standing by her comments.

Diane Abbott has form for these sort of generalisations. A couple of years ago when discussing her children she said "I’m a West Indian mum and West Indian mums will go to the wall for their children.". The strong implication there was that mothers from other ethnic backgrounds would not, otherwise why single out the background as a distinguishing factor?

I don't think Abbott should have to resign from her position as a front-bench Labour spokesperson as long as she apologises for her comment yesterday. Also she needs to cut out the broad sweeping generalisations about people based on their skin colour or ethnicity in future.

If she chooses not to apologise however then I expect the Labour leadership will have to act. They surely cannot condone this sort of comment?


Diane Abbott has now tweeted the following "clarification":

I don't buy that. She used the present tense and was discussing the current situation.

And she has now deleted the original offending tweet. If she is standing behind it why would she do that?


Phil Ruse said...

It was an incredibly stupid comment, one shared by others (link, link) but I think citing the "west indian mothers" comment rather undermines how stupid she was this time around; for the reason that so many people are guilty of that kind of 'positive' discrimination (note the quotes!) I've often heard similar on an English-Welsh-Scots comparison for example.

Jim said...

Didn't you get the memo? Only white folk can be racist. In fact forget the 'can', white people are all racist, some of them are just better at hiding it than others.

Eoghan O'Neill said...

On tenses...what a difference a d makes

Tony said...

A very fair point of view, I think. She shouldn't be sacked, but an apology is certainly in order. However, regarding the 'West Indian mums' point, Phil Ruse is correct that positive discrimination is common and it certainly doesn't mean that everyone who's not included within it must therefore be the opposite.

Matthew Huntbach said...

It's a silly comment from a silly woman, so I can't get worked up about. In fact I'll turn it round. Here's a posh woman who sends her kids to private school, and she turns round and accuses people who have nothing like her wealth and privilege of being members of some sort of ruling class just because of the colour of their skin? Yes, you may be a council estate mum living on benefits, but you're still an evil colonialist if you're not black. Sounds pretty much like divide-and-rule to me, pretty much like a posh person devising a tactic to prevent the non-posh of different races uniting to get rid of the Oxbridge-educated private school lot who form the ruling class of this country ...

Caron said...

I don't often disagree with you, Mark, but I do this time. I can see where she was going with that tweet although she made it in a poor way.

What does make me furious, though, is that rather than give her the chance to explain herself, Ed Miliband, in an attempt to appear strong, has rebuked her and sent Chuka Umunna out to tell the world that he thinks she's transgressed.

I've done my own take on this here:

After that brief interlude, we should probably go back to discussing the things that matter.

Chris Gilmour said...

But even looking at the context in which she tweeted, the tweets she was replying to, there's nothing to suggest 19th century European colonialism, unless that's the sort of thing that she and @bimadew usually tweet about.

Admittedly she did read history at Cambridge, so its possible, but it still feels like she pulled that context out of her arse.

Rosy said...

Jim, I really hope that was tongue-in-cheek otherwise you should be sacked. Actually you should just lose your job regardless. The Internet demands it.