Posted on June 28, 2010

Diane Abbott Fumes After Being Branded A Racist on TV by This Week Host Andrew Neill

Simon Walters, Daily Mail (London), June 27, 2010

Labour leadership contender Diane Abbott was seething after being branded a ‘racist’ and an expenses cheat by political pundit Andrew Neil.

Left-winger Ms Abbott was savaged by Mr Neil on his late-night BBC show This Week over her decision to send her son James to the £12,700-a-year City of London School.

Ms Abbott, who earned £36,000 a year as a regular guest on the show alongside Michael Portillo until stepping down to fight for the Labour leadership, had defended her stance, saying: ‘West Indian mums will go to the wall for their children.’

Mr Neil hit back by demanding: ‘So black mums love their kids more than white mums, do they?’

Furious Ms Abbott said: ‘I have said everything I am going to say about where I send my son to school.’

Mr Neil persisted: ‘Supposing Michael said white mums will go to the wall for their children. Why did you say that? Isn’t it a racist remark?

‘If West Indian mums are as wonderful as you say, why are there so many dysfunctional West Indian families in this country? And why do so many young West Indian men end up in a life of crime and gangs?

‘You didn’t want your son to go to a school full of kids who have been brought up by West Indian mums.’

As Ms Abbott repeatedly refused to reply, Mr Neil asked: ‘Would you like to make it clear that West Indian mums are no better than white mums or Asian mums?’

When Ms Abbott, squirming in her seat, replied, ‘I have nothing to say,’ Mr Neil taunted her:

‘You don’t want to do that–you still think West Indian mums are the best?’

The clash came after Ms Abbott said last week: ‘I knew what could happen if my son went to the wrong school and got in with the wrong crowd. They are subjected to peer pressure and when that happens it’s very hard for a mother to save her son. Once a black boy is lost to the world of gangs it’s very hard to get them back.’

Scathing: Andrew Neil has savaged Labour leadership candidate Diane Abbott over her decision to send her son to private school

Scathing: Andrew Neil has savaged Labour leadership candidate Diane Abbott over her decision to send her son to private school

Mr Neil also confronted her over the £142,000 she claimed last year in Commons expenses.

He said: ‘We _discovered you claimed £1,100 on taxis, including an individual claim for £192. Is that acceptable for an inner London MP?’

Ms Abbott stumbled: ‘The £192 _figure is, I think, a dozen taxi bills.’

Mr Neil replied: ‘You put in one claim, you didn’t designate each one.’

Ms Abbott: ‘No, no, I added it up.’

Mr Neil: ‘Do you think the taxpayer should be paying over £1,000 for _running around London in a taxi?’

Ms Abbott: ‘I don’t run around London in taxis. I take a couple of taxis a week to get home late at night.’

Mr Neil: ‘Why don’t you dip into your own pocket? You’re well paid.’

It is not the first time the pair have fallen out. The MP was left angry last October when Mr Neil jokingly referred to her and Mr Portillo as ‘our very own chocolate HobNob and custard cream’.