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Diane Abbott says that "white people love playing divide and rule". If she doesn't quit, Miliband should sack her.

Screen shot 2012-01-05 at 07.12.03

By Paul Goodman
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Abbott tweeted the above late yesterday eveningGuido Fawkes argues that she thus deliberately provoked hatred of a racial group, and is therefore in breach of the 1986 Public Order Act.

I'm taken by the fact that Abbott is a member of Ed Miliband's front bench health team.  She was making Labour's case only yesterday over the breast implant row.

Aiden Burley was recently sacked as a PPS after reportedly hired a nazi costume for a stag party. David Cameron's decision to fire him was unavoidable.

This is worse: imagine how the Guardian or the BBC would react if a Conservative MP said that "black people love playing 'divide and rule' ".

They would be right to so so.  Such an MP would be maligning their fellow citizens on a racist basis.  This is exactly what Abbott has done.

Even the most clear-cut apology won't do.  Nadhim Zahawi MP believes that Abbott should quit and  Miliband should fire her if she doesn't.  This view is severe but correct.

And I hope that the BBC and the Guardian give Abbott the same coverage that they would devote to my imaginary Tory MP - noting as they do that she has form on this matter.

11.30am update: A statement from Labour has finally appeared.  It reads: "We disagree with Diane’s tweet. It is wrong to make sweeping generalisations about any race, creed, or culture."

So let's continue the imaginary exercise.  A Conservative front bencher tweets: "Black people love playing 'divide and rule' ".  He claims his remarks were taken out of context and CCHQ simply issues the statement above: no reprimand, no sacking.  What do you think would happen next?

12.15pm update: We now have from Abbott a classic non-apology apology. She said:  “I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people. I do not believe in doing that. I apologise for any offence caused.”

The problem wasn't that some people interpreted her tweet as making generalisations about white people.  It was that it did make generalisations about white people.