Diane Abbott

by craig on January 6, 2012 1:17 pm in Uncategorized

Diane Abbott follows Paul Flynn in apologising for telling an obvious truth. It shows New Labour has not changed under Ed – the ability to spout anything other than neo-con slogans is to be stamped out.

I spent several days with Diane Abbott and a small party of other MPs travelling in a bus around Ghana and got to know her fairly well. She is most certainly not in the least racist.

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  1. Beeston Regis

    6 Jan, 2012 - 1:25 pm

    Of course she is racist, the lamestream media tells us so.

  2. Uzbek in the UK

    6 Jan, 2012 - 1:30 pm

    Yes, US is now going to be more concentrated on Pacific and on states that surround China with excludes Europe. In the new Cold War China might be more successful than USSR if it keeps increasing its military capacity proportionately to its economic development. For US this new Cold War will be more challenging as China unlike USSR is also turning more and more into capitalist society. China is investing its money and not simply supporting pro-China regimes.

  3. “Diane Abbott follows Paul Flynn in apologising for telling an obvious truth”.

    Do you mean her tweet that “white people love playing ‘divide and rule’”? Do you think that is an obvious truth? I’m white, and I assure you I don’t enjoy playing ‘divide and rule’. So Ms Abbott’s generalisation breaks down with me – the first person I have tested it against. As far as I know, it doesn’t apply to my wife either, or our daughters (quite the contrary)… and so on.

    Now if she meant that “SOME white people love playing ‘divide and rule’”, that would be true – but utterly trivial. I am sure some black people do too, and some brown people and yellow people and so on.

    It strikes me as odd that someone who is so accustomed to ticking off white people for racist stereotyping would go in for it herself. It just shows that you can’t be too careful.

  4. Indeed, surely it’s high time we all stopped categorising one another into “races”, “ethnic groups”, or whatever. People are just people! Scientists have known for mny decades that there is no such thing as “race”, objectively speaking: people within a given “racial” group often differ far more than they do from members of other such groups. The whole business is just a primitive fantasy.

  5. Our hearts go out to these grieving parents and their extended family.

  6. Tom,

    It’s a generalisation about the behaviour of the ruling class towards black people down the century. Not beautifully phrased or nuanced, and obviously not true of you or me. But I think it is quite obvious where she is coming from. Discourse without generalisation would be very complex.

  7. I followed a link to a article on America’s defence review and came to this Diane Abbott article.
    Incidentally what she said was technically racist. Despite the fact that it is essentially true. Perhaps true of 80% of white people. But they are exceptions such as the people who read this blog.
    A qualifier of “most white people” would have been more correct.
    Poor phrasing does not make someone racist, just as careful phrasing does not make someone not racist. And there are plenty of closet bigots in government.

  8. Craig, I can accept that ruling classes have practiced “divide and rule” since prehistoric times. But as there is absolutely no correlation between the ruling classes and “white people”, I don’t know why Ms Abbott chose the wording she did.

    Now, if she has written “our rulers love playing ‘divide and rule’”, that would have been truer. But as she is one of our ruling class, it might not have sounded quite so clever.

  9. “Discourse without generalisation would be very complex.”

    Indeed. That is why any law that tries to manage this is rightly doomed to failure and ridicule.

  10. “Poor phrasing does not make someone racist…”

    Michael, many people have assumed that it does. As in this case, which made my blood boil at the time and still raises it to a gentle simmer:


  11. I had a struggle to work out what she’d done wrong, too – seemed to me she was spot on. Not only was the comment correct in general, it was also pertinent in the case she referred to.
    Rather than running down harmless posts made in a personal capacity like this, why isn’t the MSM demanding apologies from the likes of Blair, Campbell, John Bolton et al, for the death, destruction and other costs of their monumental lies? Instead, they get asked for their opinions regularly, thanked for their time, rarely questioned and our public airways are used to promote their wretched self-serving books.

  12. I can’t agree that we should never look at race, in its complex link with culture. Most Asian communities in the UK achieve better in school than the indigenous communities, for example. Nigerians are indeed disproportionately involved in crimes of fraud. Pretending such things are not true does not help draw the lessons of emulation, or of what needs to be changed.

  13. But Craig, once you concede that “Nigerians are disproportionately involved in crimes of fraud”, why can’t the London police stop and search Black people disproportionately if they believe those people are disproportionately involved in crimes of theft, robbery, etc?

    The whole doctrine of racism seems suspect to me, as you can’t seriously identify separate races without occasionally finding that one of them is better or worse than others in some way.

  14. “But as there is absolutely no correlation between the ruling classes and “white people”, I don’t know why Ms Abbott chose the wording she did.
    Now, if she has written “our rulers love playing ‘divide and rule’”, that would have been truer. But as she is one of our ruling class, it might not have sounded quite so clever….”

    You are quite right. And, if Abbott had ‘apologised’ correctly she would have put the ball back in the centrists’ court by explaining what she meant. She would obviously prefer to be regarded as a racist than a socialist.

  15. No, Michael, in spoken statements like these it’s always understood that you’re referring either to a majority or the net effect, or some organisational policy.

    So, if I say that the customer service people at MegaCorp Ltd are bastards, I of course mean that the result is that they behave like bastards. I don’t mean that I’ve interviewed every single one and found every single one to be a bastard (there may be a nice young lass in a cubicle somewhere, wondering what she’s doing in the wrong job). Nobody would be stupid enough to think that that’s what I meant.

    If we say that the Metropolitan Police are institutionally racist, we don’t mean that each and every policeman is a bigot. We mean that the organisation causes them, as a unit, to do racist things. Nobody would be stupid enough to think anything else.

    So when Diane Abbott says something about white people, what do we think?

  16. I’m with Tom on this. Abbot is no idiot so why does Craig Murray appear intent on implying that she is?

  17. Sorry to turn and rend you, Daniel, after you backed me up – but I think Craig was complaining about the criticism of Ms Abbott. Maybe you and he are in agreement!

  18. Uzbek in the UK

    6 Jan, 2012 - 3:49 pm

    Mr Murray
    I partially agree with your last comments but my view with Asian children doing better at school and Nigerians involved in crimes of fraud I would put the matter of culture first BEFORE the matter of race. And by culture I mean family education first. Race when is pointed out and particularly when used as an argument causes more discontent then serve as pragmatic appeal. On the other hand racial issues and particularly demographic structure of the society is a key to understanding society.

  19. As I understand it, if something is perceived as being racist by the ‘victim’ it is racism. It’s lovely taking a swipe at the other. ‘Western leaders don’t even wash their bottoms’ is racist, though true. I find it offensive as a western person, while at the same time laughing with it as a Muslim.
    White people love to divide and rule is offensive and racist to me as a white person, but I can agree with it as a cheap jibe against Blair, whom Ms Abbott publicly loathes.
    But it is also true that in the eyes of the rest of the world we ordinary, !white! citizens appear to put up with our corrupt leaders without doing anything about it. This is the perceived racism that Ms Abbott was putting her finger on. On this blog we have gone round and round about us not being able to do anything about our corrupt leaders not meaning we are condoning them.
    The very perception by the victims of this secondary racism is something very worrying.
    But to say that only white people don’t care about their corrupt, white or black leaders’ actions is also racist, because lots of !black! people either don’t care or can’t help what’s going on as well.
    Ms Abbott was using a ‘persona’ when making this phrase. I find this way of talking quite common among women, and is understood fully by them. But that is in the context of the busty, black lady on your TV screen. In print, it’s not so obvious where she’s coming from.

  20. She is in favour in my eyes because she voted very strongly against the Iraq war. (They Work For You)
    She is however very acquisitive. Perhaps her humble beginnings led her to decide to get on the gravy train. A glance at her register of interests shows the large amount of speaking, writing and appearance fees, plus donations, she collects.
    Not too hot on keeping on top with the records either.
    ‘Failure to declare earnings
    In 2004, following a complaint made by Andrew Rosindell MP, Abbott was investigated by the Committee on Standards and Privileges regarding payment she had received from the BBC. They found she had failed to declare earnings of £17,300 on the Register of Members’ Interests which had been received for appearances on the television programme This Week. The Committee upheld the complaint and required Abbott to apologise to the House.’ Wikipedia. {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Abbott}

  21. Tom,

    My point is that criticism of her was justified. The ‘generalization’ argument used in her defence is a red-herring. If Abbot had stated that the political class/establishment in the past have generally used the tactic of ‘divide and rule’ it would have been legitimate. But Abbot generalized about ‘white people’ per se in the present tense.

    Now, either she didn’t intend to say what she said which implies she is an idiot, or she is a racist. I contend that she is not the former. Why Murray and others are intent on providing her with an alibi for her racism is beyond me. Imagine if a white person had ‘generalized’ about black people in a negative way. Do you think that Craig Murray would be eulogizing in their defence?

  22. larry Levin

    6 Jan, 2012 - 4:58 pm

    hat did they apologize for,?

  23. The great Roy Harper, on his song, ‘I Hate the White Man’:


  24. This distracting and silly storm suggests that the (largely de facto white supremacist) Right-wing media is proving that they do indeed operate through divide-and-rule.
    I agree with Craig’s post, and subsequent comments, on this matter.

  25. Uzbek, I must agree with you that -at least today – it is family/community culture, not race, that is the defining point of a person’s background. I think in the past race had a lot more to do with it, because cultures were in general so separated by distance – but today many cultures are living cheek by jowl and their differences are being highlighted. And there is always the fallacy of The Other, which is and always has been used to define identity. Notice that even someone as intelligent as Stephen Hawking is quoted as saying that he doesn’t understand women – in this case it’s women who are The Other. I notice this definition of ‘Otherness’ being used throughout history and throughout literature as an attempt to differentiate between groups and individuals, when it should be the unity of humankind that is celebrated and highlighted.

  26. The outrage on twitter yesterday went on for hours calling for the resignation of Diane Abbot. The lady apologized and explained being allowed ONLY so many letters on a tweet it is sometimes impossible to explain what you are trying to say. Myself being a chatty chick understand perfectly. BUT that was not the point, people just wanted to lay into her and by the end of the day I had the feeling those who were posting the meanest of tweets were themselves white and they posted them because Diane is black.

    Remember this…

    Take A Pinch Of White Man
    Wrap Him Up In Black Skin…


    …maybe I am a romantic but why can’t we just love each other ?

  27. http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/bim-adewunmi
    How I started the Diane Abbott Twitter storm
    Bim Adewunmi’s exchange of tweets with her MP triggered a huge row about racism. Here’s how it all unfolded

    Bim Adewunmi is a freelance journalist and blogger, specialising in popu(l)ar culture, feminism and race. She blogs at {www.yorubagirldancing.com}

  28. I’m with you Uzbek – it’s surely a matter of culture not race that makes one group more inclined to particular behaviours than others. The Asian youngsters I taught 20 and 30 years ago were certainly more highly motivated to achieve well, and more respectful, than their white counterparts; I don’t know whether that still holds true now.
    As for Diane – she’s a bright lady who’s been tripped up, and I’m darn sure she’s no racist, but I cant forgive her appearances with Neil and Portillo week after week on that blimmin sofa.

  29. Strewth!

    1) She used the presnt tense, and
    2) She had 30 characters left, and
    3) She has previous.

  30. If people think of themselves or others primarily as white or black, they are already victims of divide and rule.

  31. Emma West on the tram was the victim of divide and rule. She declared her separateness from the other passengers, including one who self identified as English, and they united against her. She didn’t attempt to divide them.

  32. Michael Stephenson

    6 Jan, 2012 - 7:44 pm

  33. Racial (or other group) prejudice, envy, anger, fear, tension, aggression and abuse may all be used in the practice of divide and rule.

  34. Rose,

    On what grounds do you say she’s been ‘tripped up’? I agree, she’s not stupid which begats why it was she made such a stupid comment if it was not on the basis of racism. Her use of the term ‘whites’ in the generic sense in the context that she used it, is racist. There is no escaping this fact. The question in light of this, is why are people like Craig Murray are defending the indefensible?

  35. “This distracting and silly storm suggests that the (largely de facto white supremacist) Right-wing media is proving that they do indeed operate through divide-and-rule.”


    Oh please, do me a favour. As with Abbot, you are conflating the politics of identity with the legitimate structural imbalances implicated by uneven relations of power. Do you seriously believe that if the media was owned and controlled by ethnic minorities things would be any different?

  36. I would have thought that departmentalising and putting others into boxes is a human trait, not that of one race against another.
    The problems with divide and rule are preceded by the philosophical notion of power, they are in a relationship and whether we want to go and quote Foucault or Nietzsche, the nature of power in itself encorporates discrimination. Although once we did live in tribes, and some still do if we remind ourselfs of Sicilian families, or Turkish family clans, today we have chosen to hav vast massive societies that are centralised with huge power systems at their heart and very little down at the level were it matters for us.

    If society would be decentralised and more open power structure would be better controlled and ruming by division much harder to accomplish.
    Did somebody say something about colour? She is a lawyer and should have engaged her brain, the little addage ‘some’ or ‘a few’ or ‘certain’ would have been enough. Another point which is blingingly obvious would be to ask her whether she thinks whether certain black people are devoid of using this power tool of divide and rule, does she think herslef as a Black parliamentarian, pure and innocent of having used division and rules.
    She said sorry, I forgive her and believe a lot of what she said is right, its her experience I suppose.
    She should have told Ed to f off and mind his own business, has he not got enough on his hands with that neocon Labour Lord egging him on to grow up and become more rabid.

  37. Ingo,

    Your comment chimes with mine. What I find particularly annoying and offensive about Abbot’s comment is not only does her racism set back race relations, but her trumping of identity politics shifts our attention away from the underlying structural causes at the heart of politicians’ attempts to rule over us through their use of ‘divide and rule’.

    I recall a debate between Abbot and Tariq Ali on the BBCs political current affairs programme, ‘This Week’ in which the latter exposed the formers attempts at defending the indefensible record of Barack Obama, on the basis of his colour.

  38. OK Daniel – semantics again – perhaps she tripped herself up, or as others have suggested, didn’t express herself carefully enough; coming from a generation born during the war, I’m always having to think twice about how I use language. What you say goes to the heart of what prejudice is and you’re right to challenge it, but most of us here are people of good will and will accept that she made a mistake. I have yet to be initiated into the mysteries of Twitter – any volunteers? – but being of the prolix persuasion,I can’t imagine what it must be like having to confine myself to 140 characters to say anything at all.

  39. k

  40. She’s an idiot! As said in an earlier post ‘she has previous’. She courts attention in this day of celebrity culture. She new the remarks would cause problems. Just ask yourself what would happen if a policeman had said something of a similar ilk. Gone in 60 seconds, I think!

    That said, I don’t want her to be sacked. Far too much sensitivity is attached to stuff like this.

  41. As Craig says, discourse without generalisation would be far too complex. We all understand the thrust of what Abbott was saying: she didn’t mean all white people, she meant the white establishment. This is quite clear from the context. As a white person I do not find her remarks offensive, because I do not feel implicated in her criticism.

  42. I agree about Abbott’s penchant for celebrity and allegedly also gravy-trains. I also agree that Identity Politics now largely itself has come to be an instrument of divide-and-rule.

    All of that does not remove the fact that the media and much else in this – and in US – society is basically de facto white supremacist. Those in dominant groupings sometimes have difficulty seeing this because it doesn’t affect them. It is simply one more is an array of power inequities. It’s not ‘either or’.

    So Daniel, what I am arguing is not “a conflation of the politics of identity with the legitimate structural imbalances implicated by uneven relations of power”. It is saying that one of the key structural imbalances of power relates to the identity politics of de facto white supremacism.

    So, for example, this encompasses imperialist tactics such as the cultivation of ‘native’ elites domestically (as happened in times of Empire) – in essence, Jack Straw in Bradford is engaging in the same process as a Colonial Resident in ‘British India’. It has ramifications in almost every walk of life. Divide-and-rule – on the basis of colour, ethnicity, religion, class, region, etc. – is simply one aspect of the machine.

  43. With regard to Tom Welsh, the idea there are no races was promulgated by Boas, an American pseduo-scientist. His motive was to benefit Jews. There’s a good account in Kevin MacDonald’s book ‘The Culture of Critique’. It perhaps goes without saying that one slef-defined ‘race’ was regarded as exempt.

  44. I think it wrong to look at the UK establishment as a “white” establishment with the suggestion that it is racist. Rather than a racist establishment, what I think we have is a very powerful “class oriented” establishment that operates undemocratically, and often corruptly, and only in its own narrow interests and not those of the nation as a whole. It adversely affects all groups who are not part of it, including many “white” people as well as racial minorities.
    One can see a report on my story by clicking on my signature. I won’t reiterate the details here except to say look at pages 17 to 20 of my report for a brief overview of other “non racial” human rights abuses in the UK – none of whom received any help at all from our narrowly focussed human rights industry. To some extent this industry is already segregated between those who have racial, or orientation issues, or are abused foreign dissidents overseas and who sometimes get a little of the help they need, and the rest of us who don’t have any help at all. There is certainly no help for the many victims at home of “MI5 / MI6”. Human Rights are a very political issue in the UK, including wilfully blind Cabinet Ministers in the last Labour Government who as my own case shows have no honest track record in this matter.
    If some want to dispute any of the well-witnessed facts in my own case then there is only one honest way to do it – charge me and bring me before a jury of my peers. That people could do such evil, and continue with this evil is, I think, indicative of the overall moral shallowness of this establishment rather than of racism alone.

  45. Roderick Russell – I agree. Overall, class (and all the matters that flow from it, such as wealth distribution, etc.) is the main structural problem in the UK. There are of course other structural poroblems though.

  46. Antelope Grazer

    8 Jan, 2012 - 9:31 am

    She was probably setting up an opportunity for Millipede Junior to seem tough and decisive after his bad press recently. If you have to have a black woman in the shadow cabinet she might as well make herself useful.


  47. I laughed – its ok because i am blue.

  48. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=H9rwSACpTqk
    George Galloway takes down Rehman Chishti MP Con on Diane Abbott race tweet

  49. Of course if she had said bloggers and blog commenters love playing divide and rule she would have hit the nail on the head.

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