Diane Abbott’s fluff-up: another Labour car-crash
Who could believe that the dulcet-toned Diane Abbott could speak any slower? After all, BBC Question Time doesn’t get any more agonising than waiting for the shadow home secretary to finish a sentence. This week, however, Abbott may have hit a new record when she um-ed and ah-ed on LBC Radio’s Nick Ferrari show while being questioned over Labour’s plans for 10,000 more police officers.
Usually the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington can be relied upon to keep things vague, rarely being drawn to say anything decisive when it comes to her party’s politics, enunciating slowly and carefully every vacuous word. This time, however, she was all about the specifics. In an excruciating exchange, she first claimed that 10,000 more police officers would cost £300,000 — so a paycheque of £30 for each officer, then — before correcting herself and jumping to the amount of £80million. When Ferrari pointed out that this equated to salaries of £8,000, Abbott then began stumbling over the numbers of police officers, citing numbers ranging from 25,000 to 250,000.
And she isn’t the only Labour MP making a fool of herself in public — the party has had quite a run of them of late. Earlier this month, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry claimed obese children just needed to be taught how to grow a carrot. Last year, in a cringeworthy rant, Thornberry accused a Sky News presenter of sexism because he asked her whether she knew the name of the French foreign minister.
Of course, those two, Abbott and Thornberry, pale in comparison with their party leader’s constant fluff-ups. Perhaps the most memorable was the video of Jeremy Corbyn sitting on the floor of what he claimed was a ‘ram-packed’ Virgin train — CCTV footage released later showed Corbyn walking past apparently empty seats.
When Ferrari asked Abbott, ‘Has this been thought through?’, She indignantly and quickly (for once) replied: ‘Of course it’s been thought through!’ But forethought seems to be particularly lacking among members of the Labour Party. It often seems that the details get lost in pursuit of grand gestures. As the General Election edges ever nearer, it’s hard to imagine Labour going too long without another car-crash interview.
Naomi Firsht is staff writer at spiked and co-author of The Parisians’ Guide to Cafés, Bars and Restaurants. Follow her on Twitter: @Naomi_theFirsht