Thursday, January 05, 2012

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?

38 Comments:

Blogger Surreptitious Evil said...

"Tactic as old as colonialism" seems to make it clear that she is talking about the modern day. If it was "colonialism" then she would have a valid case that she was talking about the C19.

5 January 2012 at 10:38  
Blogger Sam Vega said...

"All white people, she avers, seek to divide and conquer black people"

The tweet might mean this, or it might mean "some white people".

I would be happy to give her the benefit of the doubt, or at least ask her to clarify her meaning, before making accusations of racism.

5 January 2012 at 10:49  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

Sam, I could perhaps accept what you say, if this was the first time Ms Abbott had said something that is racist. But it isn't and she is.

5 January 2012 at 10:57  
Blogger Sam Vega said...

John,

You make a fair point. Looking at the context of the tweet, however, I think she was attempting to bolster the (declining) political view that all ethnic minorities are an homogeneous group with common interests. She did this clumsily, but I don't think that her manner of doing it necessarily implies racism.

5 January 2012 at 11:09  
Blogger Belsay Bugle said...

She might have meant anything by these babblings; I've never been able to make much sense of anything she says.

But I do feel she's mighty ungrateful for what the wicked white colonials have done for her - grammar school and Cambridge, fees paid by those white oppressors who 'all seek to divide and conquer black people' and then a safe seat in Parliament.

Education can open your eyes and set you free, but it doesn't seem to have had much effect on Miss Abbott who has chosen to remain in blind captivity to her dogma of lefty victimhood.

5 January 2012 at 11:12  
Blogger Vince said...

If she had meant "some", Sam, she would have said "some". She wasn't at the character limit. There is no way to plausibly interpret a sentence with "white people" as the subject as meaning "some white people". I appreciate that you want to give her the benefit of the doubt, but there's nothing to doubt here.

5 January 2012 at 11:16  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Education can open your eyes and set you free, but it doesn't seem to have had much effect on Miss Abbott who has chosen to remain in blind captivity to her dogma of lefty victimhood.
wonderfully put Belsay Bugle.

This is black and white...she should be sacked, she should have been sacked already as various examples when the shoe is on the other foot of Labour slagging the Conservatives show.

5 January 2012 at 11:25  
Blogger Sam Vega said...

Vince,

It might be more about shooting from the hip and expressing herself loosely than the character limit. (Now I've written it, I've just seen the double meaning in "character limit", by the way!). She has a vague idea that one of the things that threatens her world-view is a tendency on the part of some people to "divide and rule" the "black community". I doubt if she considered the exact composition of this group of people, or whether her views on it are historically accurate. She probably should have done, but then again, this is one of the perils of tweeting on sensitive topics when you are in the public eye and have enemies who would make much of every false step.

I am still inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt, on the grounds that I believe a charitable view of others is a good thing to cultivate.

5 January 2012 at 11:30  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

I'd giver her a red card and an 8 week ban from Parliament.

5 January 2012 at 12:05  
Blogger Sam Vega said...

Well, she has now apologised for expressing herself in such a way that she could mistakenly be understood to be making generalisations about white people. Taken out of context, and all that.

Meanwhile, Miliband must be very grateful to her for stirring up something that bumped Lord Glasman's opinions on his leadership off the front pages.

"Don't do it again, Dianne, but on this occasion I'm happy to overlook it...".

5 January 2012 at 12:30  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

All this manufactured indignation from big babies in all the political parties! The very notion of "racism" (a word invented so as to make it difficult to deny culpability) is poisonous to free speech. Diane Abbott is an idiot, but we knew that anyway. Calling her a racist idiot is to descend to her idiotic level.

5 January 2012 at 12:42  
Blogger Roger Pearse said...

Apparently it's OK to be raaacist if you're black.

And you before you delete this comment, did I mention that I'm black? Delete me and I'll drag you through the courts forever.

Or maybe I'm not black and just lying to get an advantage.

Or maybe I *am* black, and I'm taking the piss out of laws that allow one section of society to have an advantage over the native inhabitants.

Or maybe I'm not black, and so need to be flogged for my temerity.

You can't tell, can you, whether my words are acceptable until you see my photograph?

Which ought to be food for some thought.

Abbott? Well, she's black, isn't she? That's a free pass, under the present regime. Isn't it?

Perhaps someone could outline what is, or is not, permitted, and to who?

5 January 2012 at 12:46  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

Can someone define "white people"? Not sure I've ever really met one.

And who are the "we" Ms Abbott refers to?

5 January 2012 at 13:02  
Blogger Belsay Bugle said...

The other thing I wanted to say is that she has absolutely no sense of humour or irony. What she says is ludicrous so we should laugh at her - of course the last thing we are allowed to do, but it would be the most effective.

Getting all indignant and throwing insults about gets nowhere and is simply an attempt to suppress the truth, and is as hypocritical as Miss Abbott lauding the virtues of the socialist state, deploring her white oppressors, while sending her son to an English public school.

'Ms' Abbott should be free to say what comes into what she's pleased to call her mind, 'racist' or not, and so should her detractors.
I can't see why anyone should try to silence her, or anyone else, by crying 'racist' (whatever that may mean).

She's a very silly and not very clever opportunist who has not risen to prominence on merit, but on the back of the race relations industry. The marvellous irony is that she should now be hoist with her own petard - caught out expressing 'racist' views.

I deplore the gagging of anybody, which really stems from fear that they might utter some inconvenient truth and threaten the choking miasma of falsehood that these people depend on!

5 January 2012 at 13:34  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

"Can someone define "white people"?" The 61% of people living in Hackney who should know better than to vote for a marxist racist and who, as parents, are not prepared to 'go to the wall' like Jamaican parents do!

"And who are the "we" Ms Abbott refers to?" Anybody who is NOT one of the above and who holds all who are 'the above' responsible for the Slave trade and any other actions committed by these WP that can be shown from history and the WE/THEY will let us know when/if we can be collectively forgiven, innit.

You gets whats ya votes for!

Fair?

Ernst

5 January 2012 at 13:43  
Blogger Ariadne said...

I heard her "apology" on Radio 4. Her voice didn't have her usual careful cadences.

And yes, that hashtag is very revealing. The preceding tweets refer to her party. I think.

Abbott on Twitter.

5 January 2012 at 13:46  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

Ernsty
So "black" people, regardless of actual skin colour, is anyone who agrees with Ms Abbott?

Still not clear who "white" people are though. I neither live in Hackney nor agree with Ms Abbott. Presumably, in Ms Abbott world anyone who is not "black" is "white"?

Do I feel offended? Is this post racist incitement? More stupidity born out of a naive stupidity, an artificail division of the world into "goodies" and "baddies", I'd say.

Time to wheel in Mr Costello!

5 January 2012 at 14:08  
Blogger Chaconia said...

As a person of mixed race with one black and one white parent I can affirm that racism is prevalent in both groups. Indeed it is found universally. It is, however, also true that we have tolerated a level of racism against the white community by black people which we would not have tolerated from whites. This is because the legacy of slavery and colonialism, and more recently apartheid in SA have contributed to white guilt and to black victimhood. This is why we tolerate groups such as the National B lack Policeman’s Association (we could never have a white one) and associations of black lawyers, engineers, fire fighters, teachers etc etc Indeed, if you google “black associations UK “you get 33 million hits! (and you get none if you do the same for white associations). We even have many black churches in this country (see http://www.bmcdirectory.co.uk/). Can you imagine the outcry if we had a directory of white churches! It is a sad indictment of Christianity today that we tolerate, and even promote, such a division. What is interesting about all these groups is that they are not based on culture (e.g. they are not Caribbean or African groups) but membership is open purely on the basis of skin colour. We have no equivalent for white groups nor would such be tolerated. They exist because white racism is accepted as a given – just as the statement that the (white) police are institutionally racist was accepted as a given way back in the 1999 in the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence murder.

Hence, many black people have got away with making the sort of generalisations Dianne made, with impunity while the reverse is never permitted to go unchallenged. It is therefore good to see the politically correct bandwagon come full circle with the logical consequence that all racial groups are subject to the same degree of scrutiny and censure. Had Dianne Abbot made this remark in the 1990s I expect it would have passed without comment.

5 January 2012 at 14:15  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

To accuse Abbott of racism would imply that she had core values, however twisted. She's a professional, career politician; statements like the one quoted are simply the tools she uses for her advancement.

In answer to Cranmer's question, however, yes, the statement would, in my opinion count as inciting racial discontent. She will, of course, not be prosecuted because it isn't wrong when people on the left do it (by which, of course, I mean people who identify themselves as being on the left, notwithstanding sending their children to exclusive schools while demanding everybody else's kid goes to the local comp)

5 January 2012 at 14:16  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Doddy

Ernst agrees with most of your comment however "Presumably, in Ms Abbott world anyone who is not "black" is "white"?" No anyone who is 'White' is a White person descended from White people prior to Jamaicans coming over here in Fifties (Hurray, Comrade Ms Abbott has come to save us from our depraved selves) and the white colonial empire (UK) foisted on multi coloured skinned mankind for which she and others cannot be blamed for as, you got it, the She/We are not 'White'. It most definitely relates to a specific colour!

We need Blair to come and collectively apologise again for us (Whites) as Diane and the 'We' obviously did not hear it the first time!

Ernst

5 January 2012 at 14:58  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Remember that it is fashionable to distinguish between racism and prejudice in certain progressive circles. Racism (it is said) is an action that proceeds from the racial power structure. Under this theory, a minority can be prejudiced but cannot be racist because it doesn't have access to power.

Convenient logic, I know, but perhaps applicable to the discussion.

carl

5 January 2012 at 14:59  
Blogger Owl said...

Chaconia,

thank you for using basic common sense and stating the obvious.

Your post was a breath of fresh air.

5 January 2012 at 16:38  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

Ernsty

Thanks for clearing that up. So being "black" is anyone descended from those poor souls who were subject to our colonial imperialist domination. Does this include Americans, Canadians and Austrailians?

5 January 2012 at 16:58  
Blogger Jon said...

Diane's stupidity doesn't excuse white people being racist. Rather, it just goes to show that they'll give a degree to any halfwit at Cambridge these days!

5 January 2012 at 17:36  
Blogger Roy said...

@ Chaconia

I am white and agree with most of what you say. However the directory of black churches that you mentioned actually describes itself as a directory of "black majority churches" not "black churches."

I don't know much about those churches but I have seen broadcasts from some of them on Sky TV and there have usually been some white faces among the congregations. I hope that whites are welcome in all such churches - it would be damaging to the Christian cause and bad for society if they were not.

Perhaps growing inter-marriage and (hopefully) better race relations, will lead to a gradual blurring of the distinction between black majority churches and other churches with similar theological standpoints.

5 January 2012 at 17:39  
Blogger Oswin said...

Jon @ 17:36:

Hm, just what do you mean by the word ''racist'' that you would equate with stupidity?

You may call me stupid too, but I reckon the denial of reality is an even greater stupidity.

5 January 2012 at 18:29  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace. The Inspector, that well known honky piece of white trash, is delighted that Diane Abbott has freely expressed herself. Good for you dear (…albeit your politics stink and your decision on your child’s education is delightfully 70 degree proof hypocrisy, but then again, the Inspector would do the very same…).

Just cannot understand WHY we must ALL walk on eggs shells, and today ! For God’s sake, it’s not as if any HATE is being expressed….

5 January 2012 at 18:34  
Blogger Sam Vega said...

Jon

"Diane's stupidity doesn't excuse white people being racist. Rather, it just goes to show that they'll give a degree to any halfwit at Cambridge these days!"

Her son is currently studying there, following in mum's footsteps. Don't tell me that all that expensive education was wasted!

5 January 2012 at 18:45  
Blogger arrgeekay said...

If you don't think her comment was racist, substitute "white" for "black" and imagine it being tweeted by a tory politician.

5 January 2012 at 19:27  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Doddy made Ernst Guffaw out loud and startle Mrs B 5 January 2012 16:58@

@Ernsty

Thanks for clearing that up. So being "black" is anyone descended from those poor souls who were subject to our colonial imperialist domination. Does this include Americans, Canadians and Austrailians?

Were they Black, Brown, Yellow etc or were they 'US/WE' on long haul immigration, prior to a bit of a falling out over Tea etc ...Abbott's point me thinks but not in a racist way, God Forbid!

Bless you lad. Ernst has a sneaky soft spot for you....3rd rib, just under the heart. *chuckling merrily*

Ernsty, my favourite fine fowl.

5 January 2012 at 19:41  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "Remember that it is fashionable to distinguish between racism and prejudice in certain progressive circles. Racism (it is said) is an action that proceeds from the racial power structure. Under this theory, a minority can be prejudiced but cannot be racist because it doesn't have access to power."

Oh dear, I've been saying something along those lines for years. Or rather, it's not that ethnic minorities can't be racist but that certain racism matters more than other similar stuff because of power relations.

It's why I feel I'm not really being racist (or ethnicist) by using stereotypes about the French. In fact, it feels like my patriotic duty as an Englishman to sneer at the French. Unfortunately we're equals when it comes down to it.

5 January 2012 at 21:30  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

It's why I feel I'm not really being racist (or ethnicist) by using stereotypes about the French.

Perhaps we should agree that France is the exception that proves the rule.

In fact, it feels like my patriotic duty as an Englishman to sneer at the French.

Exactly so. Britain and America once again unite in common cause against the common enemy.

Unfortunately we're equals when it comes down to it.

Oh, why did you have to go and spoil it.

carl

5 January 2012 at 21:40  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

Égaux, mais différents

5 January 2012 at 22:51  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Dodo. We have a saying. ‘Different is not wrong, it's just different’.

5 January 2012 at 23:14  
Blogger Dodo the Katholikos Dude said...

Mr I

"A fighting Frenchman runs away from even a she-goat."
(Russian saying)

"Have the Frenchman for thy friend; not for thy neighbour." (Nicephorus I)

5 January 2012 at 23:49  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

I think that we should ask emma west what she thinks about divide and conquer,as usual there is one law for the invader and another for the indigenous inhabitants of this island.

6 January 2012 at 07:22  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Dianne Abbott opens her ridiculous lefty gob and firmly wedges both of her kitten heels in it...again.

Is it coz we is white?

:D

6 January 2012 at 09:24  
Blogger Oswin said...

I don't much mind Dianne Abbott, indeed I quite like her - we're both racists, of sorts.

My objection is to the inaccuracy of her comments, whichever way one chooses to take them.

It is unfair the imply that Britain sought only to 'divide and rule' black folk; we did it with everyone, regardless of ethnicity.

As for the present, we've long since given undue consideration, if not yet the 'whip-hand', to black people in this country; so she is wrong yet again.

Let's keep racism 'real' - the truth is quite sufficient.

6 January 2012 at 17:42  

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