By branding Brexit voters as racist, Labour’s health spokesman displays her ignorance for the Brexit movement, argues Rory Broomfield.
We’ve just seen Jeremy Corbyn win re-election to remain leader of the Labour Party and yet, when you feel that things couldn’t get any worse electorally for the Labour Party, Diane Abbott makes another remark that is both disgraceful and utterly ignorant.
The remark, made at the Labour Party’s annual conference held in Liverpool, was reported in the Daily Mail as:
“The people who complain about freedom of movement will not be satisfied because what they want is to see less foreign-looking people on their streets and that’s not going to happen.”
The comment was rightly called “stupid” and “utterly inflammatory” by Conservative MP, Nadhim Zahawi, before he added that it “smears 17.4 million voters, many of them of BME [black and minority ethnic] background.”
I completely agree with Mr Zahawi, but unfortunately the comment also goes beyond that.
By branding Brexit voters as racist, Labour’s health spokesman is confusing political views with race and is trying to put race front and centre of the political policy divide.
In doing so, Diane Abbott is dividing society in a dangerous way that is intolerable in modern day society.
In contrast, her Labour colleague, Chuka Umunna, recently explained that free movement of people within the EU has to end and that the view all Leave voters are ‘bigots and racists’ or were duped was “unbelievably patronising”. This comes at a time when claims that racial attacks have increased by 57 per cent since the Brexit vote have been shown to be false.
A desire to have control over the borders of a country isn’t about race, it’s about helping to provide the best for society – irrespective of race. Indeed, the idea that the UK could have an immigration system post Brexit that is nationality neutral was a big part of Vote Leave’s – and the wider Brexit movement’s – case during the EU referendum.
Iain Murray and I have championed the benefits of a nationality-neutral immigration tariff system in co-authored papers for the Institute of Economic Affairs and recently for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Freedom under law is a principle of UK justice dating back ever since Magna Carta and, for the idea of being treated equally under law to continue, we need to put a stop to the creation of a racial Rubicon within society.
But this isn’t the first time that Diane Abbott has played “the race card”. Remember, she was sacked by Ed Miliband over previously saying whites “love to divide and rule”.
Yet the real question that I think should be asked, that we all should be asking, is whether the viewpoint that Diane Abbott holds translates into the way she deals with her constituents or the way she deals with policies. If there is cross-over, will she be sacked again?