'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Diane Abbott. You can't generalise about people's views according to their skin colour.

I quite like Diane Abbott - plain speaking and I think generally straightforward, you know what she thinks. I've found her a touch hypocritical on the subject of private vs. state education, but still...

Which is why, when she's said stupid things on Twitter in the past, I've called on her to amend the tweet - but not to resign.

However, this time, this tweet (now deleted from her time line) does seem to have gone too far.

Firstly, you can't generalise about a persons views according to their skin colour. As Toby Young (Lordy, I'm agreeing with Toby Young now) has pointed out in the Telegraph...

According to the OED, racism is defined as "the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races". By that definition, Abbott was being racist. She was attributing a characteristic – loving to play divide and rule – to a race – white people – and it's plainly an unattractive quality, i.e. intended to distinguish the race in question as morally inferior to the people they're guilty of oppressing.

Neither have I found her excuse particularly credible - that she was talking about 19th century white colonials - because she quite clearly wasn't. Here's the tweet from before the offensive missive:

I'm glad Labour have given her a strong rebuke (here's the moment on Sky news when Ed Miliband called her live to tell her what she did was wrong...)

But I do wonder if it was enough. Because if a white MP made a remark about another ethnic group, they'd be fired. Or at the very least, they should be.

As I say, I like Diane Abbott - and I don't think she's a racist. But I think she has written something racist. So, while it gives me no pleasure to say it - I think she should go.

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