Is Ed Miliband racist?
The above tweet comes from Shadow Minister of State Dianne Abbott. All white people, she avers, seek to divide and conquer black people. It is a flagrant and offensive generalisation: a sweeping allegation of ethical delinquency or moral deficiency based on the colour of one’s skin. In the United Kingdom, we call it racism.
The context of the comment is evident, and rather than apologise, Ms Abbott was quick to defend herself. Paul Goodman has pointed out that such a tweet from a white politician about black people would not be tolerated. Guido Fawkes thinks she is in breach of the Public Order Act 1986, which outlaws the distribution of racist material and ‘inciting inflammatory rumours about an ethnic group, for the purpose of spreading racial discontent’.
When a Conservative shadow minister accused ‘idle and useless’ ethnic minorities in the Army of using allegations of racism as a cover for their poor performance, he was forced by David Cameron to resign. Patrick Mercer, then shadow homeland security minister, claimed that being subjected to slurs like ‘black bastard’ was common, and to be expected, in the Armed Forces.
David Cameron, then Leader of the Opposition, described such comments as ‘completely unacceptable’. He was criticised by Labour’s Sadiq Khan for not responding swiftly. Mr Khan said: "Patrick Mercer's comments are deeply shocking and so is the initial response of Cameron's HQ. Rather than dismissing it as a 'personal matter' David Cameron's Tory Party should have sacked him immediately. This shows that the Conservative Party has not changed."
Following his resignation, Patrick Mercer admitted: "The offence I have obviously caused is deeply regretted... and I can only apologise if I have embarrassed in any way those fine men whom I commanded. I have no hesitation in resigning my frontbench appointment."
And only a few weeks ago, Mr Cameron (quite rightly) dismissed Aiden Burley as a PPS for hiring a Nazi uniform for a stag party at which the aims and objectives of the Third Reich were lauded and praised.
Unless Sadiq Khan is more concerned with partisan politicking than he is with the evils of racism, he should today be criticising the paralysis and inaction of Ed Miliband and the deafening silence from Labour Party HQ. Or does he think Dianne Abbott should be treated differently from Patrick Mercer?
Does Ed Miliband treat his ethnic minority ministers differently from the majority whites? Does he have lower expectations of people like Dianne Abbott?
Do we not call that racism?