50 thoughts on “Diane Abbott

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  • Uzbek in the UK

    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.

  • Tom Welsh

    “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.

  • Tom Welsh

    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.

  • craig Post author


    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.

  • Michael

    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.

  • Tom Welsh

    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.

  • Kit Green

    “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.

  • glenn_uk

    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.

  • craig Post author

    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.

  • Tom Welsh

    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.

  • Chris2

    “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.

  • James Cranch

    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?

  • Tom Welsh

    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!

  • Uzbek in the UK

    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.

  • anno

    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.

  • Mary

    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}

  • Daniel


    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?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    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.

  • havantaclu

    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.

  • Rocki

    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 ?

  • Mary

    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}

  • Rose

    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.

  • Bob R


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

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