Shadow health minister Diane Abbott has apologised for a tweet in which she allegedly said that ‘white people’ employ ‘divide and rule’ tactics. The MP was engaged in a discussion with Bim Adewunmi in the wake of the recent Stephen Lawrence trial verdict when the ‘offending’ phrase was tweeted.
Critics were quick to condemn Abbott. Fellow MPs such as Nadim Zahawi and deputy PM Nick Clegg have criticised her choice of words, and Abbott has since issued a statement apologising but insisting that her comments were taken out of context. She says she was talking specifically about the nature of 19th century European colonialism.
Others, however, have dismissed the notion that Abbott could ever be considered to be in any way ‘racist’, and have questioned why some people seem more interested in commenting on her tweet than on the Stephen Lawrence murder itself. Britain certainly has a number of racial problems at the moment. Diana Abbott’s tweet isn’t one of them.