Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP, Diane Abbott, has issued a public apology following claims she made racist comments on Twitter
Abbott, the first black woman to be elected as an MP, was responding to criticism of the term “black community leaders” when she wrote: “White people love playing ‘divide & rule’ We should not play their game”.
The Labour Shadow Health Minister was reacting to a conversation about media coverage in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder trial to a woman who wrote: “I do wish everyone would stop saying ‘the black community’ though. Which one?”
Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi says Labour leader Ed Miliband should sack her for “inciting hatred against white people”. Zahawi told BBC Radio 5Live that her comments were “intolerable”. “This is racism”, he continued.
“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.”
Abbott later responded that her remark had been taken out of context, and said: “I apologise for any offence caused. I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people. I do not believe in doing that.”
Ms Abbott, who ran for Labour leader in the 2010 contest, was supported by the senior Labour MP Keith Vaz today, who told the BBC that she was doing an “excellent job” as shadow public health minister and had a “great history of supporting the anti-racism struggle”.
“She’s done the right thing in withdrawing her statement and apologising for the offence that’s been caused”, Vaz continued.