Some out there on the right are frothing with faux outrage after Labour MP Diane Abbott appeared on ITV Good Morning Britain this morning and gave co-hosts Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid a typical example of the kind of racist and misogynist abuse she receives on a daily basis. As so often, the right-leaning press - for which, read most of it - has decided that Ms Abbott is in the wrong for, er, being on the receiving end of abuse.
The scale of abuse Ms Abbott receives was revealed in an Amnesty Global Insights survey, which told “In the six weeks prior to 8 June, Diane Abbott received almost half or 45.14% of all abusive tweets against women MPs included in our study. For the total period of analysis between 1 January and 8 June she received 31.61% or almost one-third of all abusive tweets. Not only did she top the list of MPs for most abusive tweets but she received 10 times more abuse than any other woman MP in the run-up to the Election and 8 times more abuse than any other woman MP during the entire period of analysis”.
In the six weeks before June’s General Election, Diane Abbott received more than 4,500 abusive Tweets. And she spelt it out plainly to her interviewers: “When I say abuse, it wasn’t, ‘I don’t agree with you about nationalising the railway’. It was people calling you a n***** b****, threatening acid attacks, it’s rape, it’s death threats and it’s upsetting for me. But it’s also upsetting for my staff”. And the press response?
The Mail did what it does best: outrage and dishonesty. “'Kids are watching': Diane Abbott says 'n***** b****' live on GMB as she reveals offensive abuse she received… but offends breakfast TV viewers and gets a dressing down from Susanna Reid”. Ms Reid gave the MP a “dressing down”? Er, maybe not: “Presenter Ms Reid was forced to apologise and appeared to give the politician a dressing down”. Pants on fire again, Dacre doggies.
The Murdoch Sun was equally outraged: “SHOCK ABUSE Diane Abbott shocks viewers by using the N-word on GMB while revealing horrific Twitter abuse she receives”. It was left to the likes of the Independent to put the rest of the press pack straight: “many viewers pointed out that the outrage should not be aimed towards the MP but those who use the abusive language against her”. Many agreed with that sentiment.
Kristian Carter simply said “If the N-word stuns and offends you, good. Stop using it to describe Diane Abbott”, while Kristian Johns mused “Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't the outrage be about a Black MP getting called a n***er in the first place?” Maggie Aitch observed “People got outraged because Diane Abbott said a word that thousands of trolls abuse her with on a daily basis”. She was not alone here.
Nabil Abdulrashid’s version was “People are more angry with victims of racism and misogyny for speaking about their plight than the actual abuse they face”. And Grace Petrie summarised it well: “Lord give me the patience of Diane Abbott dealing with white people who think attacking her for quoting a word used against her is right on”.
Diane Abbott was dead right to say what she said. And for those who got all outraged and said “There are kids watching” - just think what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that crap all day, every day. If you think Ms Abbott is wrong, maybe you’re part of the problem.