Diane Abbott is a 63-year-old Labour Party career politician.
Diane has been in the news a lot this week for her apparent struggle to traverse the details of her own election pledges – alongside comrades Corbyn and McDonnell.
Abbott was the first black woman elected to the UK House of Commons in 1987, and currently holds the position of Shadow Home Secretary.
Since the 80’s, Abbott has regularly thrust herself into national controversy with her strange and sometimes extreme views and loose grasp on social etiquette.
Indeed, while you’d be forgiven for thinking that perhaps her erratic behaviour was the result of her advanced years – the record shows that Abbott began to exhibit signs of decrepitude decades ago!
Here are my favourite PR car crashes from the woman who once wisely noted that “you can’t defend the indefensible”.
In a now infamous gaffe, on May 2 Abbott was caught out by LBC radio host Nick Ferrari as she repeatedly changed her figures for a Labour election pledge regarding the recruitment of extra police officers.
Abbott began by asserting that to employ 10,000 new police officers would cost the country £300,000 – which would mean paying each officer a mere £30.
After being challenged on the figure and a subsequent period of confused stuttering, Abbott revised her estimate to “about £80 million” – which still only allocates £8,000 per officer (for the full 4 year plan).
Abbott’s bizarre answer to being challenged on the faultiness of her calculations was to claim she would in fact hire 250,000 as opposed to 10,000!
Clean Up Operation
Following the reaction to her LBC interview, Abbott took to Sky News in an attempt to defend her pledges.
When challenged on the fact that Labour had already pledged certain funds to other causes (with regard to money made by raising capital gains taxation), Abbott first dodged the question and then launched a bizarre attack on the Conservative Party for challenging the financial viability of the Labour manifesto:
“It suits the Tories… to quibble about figures.”
Speaking of figures, Abbott was embarrassingly caught out by an ITN News interviewer just three days later (May 5) when she was asked if she knew how many seats her party had lost in local elections.
Abbott estimated 50, but was helpfully informed by the interviewer that the number was (at the time) 125.
Dislike of Whites
In 2012, Abbott experienced a backlash after making an anti-white statement on Twitter.
In the Tweet, Abbott wrote ”White people love playing ‘divide & rule'” in a generalisation relating to European colonialism.
Abbott did apologise for the comment – but not really, as she complained of being taken out of context:
“I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people. I do not believe in doing that.”
You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks
The 2012 Tweet was by no means Abbott’s first brush with controversy over her comments on race.
According to journalist Andy McSmith in his 2010 book No Such Thing as Society, Abbott claimed that “the British invented racism” during a speech at a ‘black studies’ conference in Philadelphia in 1988.
In November 1996, Abbott was back up to her race-baiting tricks again when she took issue with Finnish nurses working at her local Homerton Hospital in Hackney, London.
“I am sure that these young women are charming. But they are basically here to improve their English and are unlikely to give the British health service a lifetime’s commitment.”
She went on to describe the nurses as “blonde haired” and “bue-eyed” (perhaps someone was jealous), and complained that a better choice would have been Caribbean women.
“Are Finnish girls, who may never have met a black person before, let alone touched one, best suited to nurse in multicultural Hackney?”
Abbott was eventually forced to apologise following a complaint from the hospital.
In February 2008, Abbott made the incredible statement that “On balance, [Chairman] Mao did more good than harm” on BBC talk show This Week, hosted by Andrew Neil.
The topic was why dressing up as a Communist provokes less outrage than dressing up as a Nazi – Abbott’s response was to defend Mao Zedong for his dealings with the Japanese and the economic benefit he had brought upon his country.
The panel of the show erupted into laughter, reminding Abbott that during his reign as Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, Mao was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people and had the highest death toll of any twentieth century mass murderer.
With comrades like Diane Abbott, the Corbynista revolution (revulsion) is sure to be glorious!