Diane Abbott, a black member of the British parliament, is under fire for apparently making racialist comments on her Twitter account.
Abbott, the shadow Health Minister and the first black female ever to serve as an MP, wrote: ''White people love playing 'divide & rule' in the wake of the conviction of two white men for the murder of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager who was killed in London in 1993.
The comment related directly to media coverage of the Lawrence trial. A black British reported named Bim Adewunmi complained about how the UK media recklessly uses the terms the black community and black community leaders.”
In response, Abbott, who represents Hackney North and Stoke Newington, wrote: White people love playing 'divide & rule'. We should not play their game
She further added: Ethnic communities that show more public solidarity & unity than black people do much better.
Abbott has apologized for the remarks, but the matter will not rest.
I apologize for any offence caused,” she said in a statement.
I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalizations about white people. I do not believe in doing that.
She had earlier rationalized that he remarks were “taken out of context.”
Indeed, a prominent black member of her own Labour Party, the Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna told the BBC: [Labour leader] Ed Miliband has spoken to her this morning and made it very clear in no uncertain terms that the contents of the tweet were unacceptable. If Diane believed the words as they were expressed and she had not apologized then Ed Miliband would obviously have taken the requisite action.”
Umunna added: For us as politicians, Twitter is a very useful tool to communicate with people, but it has its perils.
The Labour Party also took Abbott to task. In a statement, the party said: We disagree with Diane's tweet. It is wrong to make sweeping generalizations about any race, creed, or culture. The Labour Party has always campaigned against such behavior -- and so has Diane Abbott.
Similarly, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (a Liberal Democrat) castigated Abbot for making a stupid and crass generalization and demanded she apologize.
Naturally, Conservatives also jumped on the anti-Abbott bandwagon and some have even called for her resignation.
Nadhim Zahawi, a Tory MP of Iraqi-Kurdish descent, told BBC: This is racism. If this was a white member of Parliament saying that all black people want to do bad things to us he would have resigned within the hour or be sacked. For a shadow minister to hold these sort of views is intolerable it is wrong, she needs to go.
Another Conservative MP, Rehman Chishti, himself of Pakistani descent, told BBC: If there was a strong leader in the Labour Party he would have taken further action against that.
Abbott has however received at least one vote of confidence.
Keith Vaz, a senior Labour MP, told BBC that Abbott is doing an excellent job as shadow health minister and has a great history of supporting the anti-racism struggle.
She's done the right thing in withdrawing her statement and apologizing for the offence that's been caused, he added.