British lawmaker accused of racism

2012-01-05 16:00

London - A prominent British lawmaker has been accused of racism after a tweet criticising "white people".

Conservative politicians said Labour's Diane Abbott should apologise after posting on Twitter: "White people love playing 'divide & rule.' We should not play their game."

The tweet was part of an online exchange about the aftermath of the sentencing of two white men for the murder of a black teenager. It was later deleted.

Conservative legislator Nadhim Zahawi said Abbott's comment was "outrageous" and she should resign.

Abbott became the first black woman elected to Parliament in 1987 and is Labour's health spokesperson.

She said on Thursday that her tweet referred to the "nature of 19th century European colonialism" and had been taken out of context.

She had added a "hashtag" - a way Twitter users highlight topics - which said "#tacticasoldascolonialism".

Her comment quickly sparked a storm, with her own party calling it "wrong" and lawmakers from Prime Minister David Cameron's ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition calling for her to apologise or resign.

One Conservative MP, Nadhim Zahawi, said a "healthy society should not tolerate any form of racism".

In a statement on Thursday, Abbott said: "I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people. I do not believe in doing that. I apologise for any offence caused."

Abbott had earlier appeared on television to insist that her tweet was taken out of context - but then took a call mid-interview which was reportedly from Labour leader Ed Miliband, ordering her to say sorry.

  • ryno.rousseau - 2012-01-05 16:13

    Haibo. I thought black people couldn't be racist. o_0

      Shoosh - 2012-01-05 21:30

      Amazing that even in the UK they now use the oft clich├ęd "taken out of context" as an excuse in the hope that this will make the story disappear. Send them back to Africa.

  • Heiku - 2012-01-05 16:23

    Just goes to show how pathetic these Europeans have become. What ever happened to stiff upper lip and plotting your revenge? No everybody just cries.

  • Garth - 2012-01-05 16:28

    Sorry does not cut it! Racism is racism. You're a minority settler anyway. If you don't like things the way they are, get out! Go back to Africa! We don't need you . . . Isn't that how it goes boys and girls?

      Heiku - 2012-01-05 16:29


  • Shirley - 2012-01-05 16:34

    Thats mild compared to South Africa!

  • anthony.swart - 2012-01-05 16:38

    Go shack up with Mugabe

  • Rajesh - 2012-01-05 17:14

    shame, you people feeling offended?

      Loodpil - 2012-01-05 17:34

      No, not really. Amused maybe. And you people and all and all ?

  • Bert - 2012-01-05 20:22

    Sack the bitch. Where has the British backbone gone? All that Winstone gave his all for, Gone. Now the puppet masters are the froggies and the krauts. One the defeated enemy and the other a bunch of cowards who just threw their hands up in surrender as soon as they heard the jackboot. Now these two are so tight in bed together it's frightening. A white country touching the forelock to races that didn't even know where the UK was pre 1939. Since then flooded the island, not to work, God forbid, to take advantage of the social welfare system.

  • oscar.manamela - 2012-01-10 09:50

    That is not a racist remark, it is just an unfortunate remark

      Geronimo - 2012-03-09 20:44

      Erm... which part of stereotyping people by the colour of their skin is not racist? I'm sure if a white politician said the exact same thing [replace the word white with black] you'd be (i) wailing; (ii) crying; (iii) telling people to go back to Europe (iv) reminding us all how "evil" our forefathers were ad nauseam rather than simply dismissing it as... "unfortunate". The hypocrisy must end.

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