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Diane Abbott: Lack of charity


Diane Abbott (Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images).
Diane Abbott (Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images).

By Amit Roy

DIANE ABBOTT does not attack other black politicians but, sadly, has shown little generosity of spirit in dealing with two Asian MPs, Priti Patel and Keith Vaz.

Having herself suffered vile abuse as a black woman, it is a matter of regret that Abbott displayed a remarkable willingness to knife Asian colleagues.

Following Sir Philip Rutnam’s resignation as permanent secretary at the Home Office, she lost no time calling for “a genuinely independent inquiry” into allegations of bullying levelled against the home secretary.

“I’m afraid it would be better if she stood down,” Abbott told Radio 4’s Today programme. “We are calling on her to step down while the inquiry goes on.”

She might argue that she was just doing her job as shadow home secretary. But what are her thoughts as she sees Patel doing the job that had eluded her?

Before the general election last year, Abbott was on the Today programme calling for Vaz to stand down as the Labour candidate for Leicester East.

“I think he should consider his position. I think he himself should agree not to be a candidate,” said Abbott, inexcusably dragging Vaz’s family into her attack.

“It has been a very sad issue, not just for him but for his family and his children.”

When it was put to her that the Labour whip had not yet been withdrawn from Vaz, Abbott responded: “Not yet, but I think Keith should consider his position.”

It didn’t matter that both Abbott and Vaz had entered the Commons together in 1987.

Abbott has said that when the new Labour leader is elected, she will step down as shadow home secretary and return to the backbenches. There is no certainty she would have been retained in the shadow cabinet.

I leave to one side allegations that Abbott herself has been a bit of a bully.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph has been approached by a senior civil servant who told the paper that Rutman “undermined the integrity” of his profession by “declaring war” on Patel.

“I think it sets a dangerous precedent – senior civil servants trying to take down a democratically elected minister,” the official said.