One of the right-wing press’ favourite moments from the General Election campaign was to crow long and loud at shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott when she couldn’t remember her figures during an interview with LBC host Nick Ferrari. How they crowed! It was “The Car-Crash Interview Everyone's Talking About”.
The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog sneered triumphantly “Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary remember, has a new policy committing Labour to putting 10,000 extra police on the streets. Could she explain how it works to LBC’s Nick Ferrari? No. Spectacularly”.
At the Daily Mail, the odious Quentin Letts (Let’s not) gleefully sniggered “How can we even start to convey Diane Abbott’s broadcasting bungles yesterday morning? The silences were so long, it was hard, as a listener, not to yowl and implore the referee to stop the fight and summon stretcher-bearers. Big Diane herself just kept staggering on, ever deeper into the mire”. Note the “Big Diane” smear.
The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun were in their element: “LABOUR were branded clueless today after Diane Abbott made FOUR humiliating mistakes in a car crash interview about the party’s Election vow to hire more cops … The Shadow Home Secretary was ridiculed after claiming Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to recruit 10,000 extra police officers would cost about £300,000 - equal to a salary £30 a year”.
Labour figures having trouble with their figures were, from that point, said to be “having a Diane Abbott moment”. Even after Ms Abbott had first been absent from the campaign, and then confirmed to have a long-term health problem - she has recently been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes - the sneering and snorting hardly abated. But, the press wanted anyone and everyone to remember, they weren’t being partisan, sexist or racist.
All of which might put them in what Spike Milligan once called A Very Difficult Position, after our Foreign Secretary (no, don’t laugh) Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson presented himself before the inquisition of Eddie Mair on the BBC Radio 4 PM programme yesterday afternoon. How about tackling racial disparity in the criminal justice system?
“Well there are measures, I believe in the bill on the courts which I think is supposed to address some of those issues … And I think that one thing in particular that we’re looking at is … um … measures to … hang on a second … There are all sorts of measures that we want to take to ensure that we do not discriminate against everybody and … er … I think you’ll find that the Prime Minister has been strong on that in her response particularly to the attack in Finsbury”. He couldn’t even repeat “Finsbury Park” correctly.
So where were all those august media movers and shakers? Where was the forthright denunciation of bumbling Bozza? The Fawkes mob managed a brief mention, but only to slag off John Prescott. Otherwise it was mostly silence in the right-wing press.
Not that there is one rule for an outspoken black woman of the centre-left, and another for a thuggish, privileged and white male toff of the centre-right. Perish the thought!