Just a few hours after Labour MP Dianne Abbott came very close to losing her job for tweeting that “white people love playing ‘divide and rule’”, a new Twitter revelation where she said that taxi drivers refuse to pick up black people has enraged taxi drivers and put Abbott back in the centre of another race row.
Diane Abbott is in the centre of another race row after another revelation from her tweets revealed that she said taxi drivers refuse to pick up black people.
Abbott’s comments related to a discussion about racism on Twitter, where she said, “Dubious of black people claiming they’ve never experienced racism. Ever tried hailing a taxi I always wonder?” (Daily Telegraph: Diane Abbott: taxi drivers refuse to pick up black passengers: By Tim Ross, Political Correspondent: 6 January 2012)
Speaking for the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, Steve McNamara told the Telegraph, “We find it amazing that in this day and age someone in Diane Abbott’s position can try to resurrect the stereotypes from the 1960s. At worst she is racist and at best she is stupid in making comments like that. Either way, she should go.”
McNamara said that 9000 members of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association were from black, Muslim and other ethnic backgrounds, and also stated that Labour leader Ed Miliband was afraid to sack Abbott because “She is a high profile black woman and he is obviously weak.”
Abbott has since said that she was referring to her own experiences, however once more she has stirred up an unwelcome debate on racism in the UK.
It is interesting that Abbott mentioned how some black people deny experiencing racism, and in that context she referred to her own experience of hailing taxis and obviously felt that some taxi drivers have not picked her up because of the colour of her skin. For the media to refer to that as racist is once again a farce. Essentially, they are now saying that even the experiences of a person from a black or minority ethnic background can be interpeted as racist.
Everyday racism is still pervasive for many people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
In December 2010, a group of professional black footballers, who play for League One club Bournemouth, were left shocked when they were told by a manager of Pizza Hut in Bournemouth to pay up front because of the way they looked. The manager even threatened to call the police if they did not pay upfront, and during a dispute about the discrimination they were experiencing, the staff called the police claiming that the players were disruptive, despite witnesses contradicting their claim. (Read Pizza Hut staff shock black footballers in race row)
The everyday racial attitudes of many whites has arguably not changed drastically either over the years. In January 2008, 64 percent of Guardian readers in a poll said that the term “sooty” was not racist in reference to a race row over Prince Charles, who referred to a so called Asian friend of his in this way. Guardian readers went even further to say that it was an affectionate term to use for someone from an ethnic background. (Read Britain’s warped sense of racial tolerance.) This from Guardian readers who are suppose to be liberal.
In a Daily Telegraph article by Alasdair Palmer and Karyn Miller ((‘White flight’ plus immigration always add up to segregation: 8 October 2006), they said that the white middle classes were leaving areas where there is a large or increasing ethnic population.
This is the reality of race relations in modern Britain.
Abbott’s ‘divide and rule’ comment still alive in party politics
Probably the worse part of the media’s demonisation of Diane Abbott is that her comment referring to white people loving to divide and rule can be demonstrated by observing party politics in Britain.
On March 22, 2010, the Conservative Party was exposed carrying out that old trick of divide and rule, after being accused of ‘airbrushing’ out pictures of ethnic minority candidates from their campaign literature in areas where they were opposing the BNP. (Read Tories tarnished in racial ‘airbrushed’ pictures row)
Labour as well will resort to racist politics to win votes as it was shown when they sent leaflets to white voters saying, “Labour is on your side—the Lib Dems are on the side of failed asylum seekers”, and “Lib Dem MPs voted against Labour’s Asylum and Immigration Bill. Lib Dem MPs said failed asylum seekers should continue to receive state benefits.” Note, that the leaflets had pictures of the Saint George flag to ensure white voters that Labour was on their side.
This is merely a couple of examples of how political parties carry out the same racially divisive tactics which Dianne Abbott referred to, and yet these politicians are defining racism for the masses.
It is in parliament itself, the so called corridors of British democracy and equality where the most vicious racism has been recorded.
A Quilliam report in November 2010, revealed that racism was rampant in parliament; with Black and Asian MPs being subjected to racist remarks regularly, and used to paint a false picture of racially inclusiveness in British politics. (Read Racism pervasive in parliament says report)
One candidate mentioned how she was told by a councillor that she had come a long way and that people like her were cleaning toilets in Heathrow.
Many Black and Asian MPs said that they were used by political parties for public relations purposes to portray them as racially inclusive.
In 2005, Dawn Butler, who became only the third black female MP in parliament spoke of the vicious racism she suffered from members of all parties. In one incident Butler said that former Tory minister David Heathcote-Amory confronted her as she sat in the members section on the terrace, telling her that it was for members only. When Butler said she was a member the Tory minister turned to a friend and said that they are letting in anyone these days.
When Butler took the offence to higher authorities she said that no one was interested. The Tory chief whip and the Speaker of the House even told her that nothing could be done.
In 2007, Butler was using the members lift and a number of politicians began speaking about how cleaners and catering staff should not use the members lift. Despite hinting that she was an MP the voices of the politicians grew louder in complaint as if they did not want to accept her position.
These are probably the same MPs now grumbling against Dianne Abbott and calling her a racist.
The truth is Britain needs a good, open race discussion but those who divide and rule at the top cannot afford this as quite a few ugly truths would come to light.
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