‘No heavy lifting’: A press portrait of Diane Abbott (pt 2)

At the end of Part One, we left Diane Abbott in 1987 standing on the threshold of Westminster, having just been elected for the first time as MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. Now we explore her parliamentary years.

I came into politics to change the world. When I turned forty a couple of months ago, I looked in the mirror and said, ‘So, have you changed the world?’ The answer’s no, but I’m trying. – Diane Abbott, 1994 [1]

‘For the first six months it was overwhelming.’ [2] Diane Abbott’s arrival in the House of Commons was accompanied by a high level of media interest, both at home and abroad, certainly much higher than would be justified by her previous job, as press officer for the London Borough of Lambeth. But she was young and attractive and she gave good copy; she was also a politically active black woman and therefore the very embodiment of the loony left. Of course she was of interest to the media.


A decade before Blair’s Babes, Neil Kinnock poses with women Labour MPs in 1987

What was supposed to happen next was unclear. With Neil Kinnock still as leader, ensuring Labour’s continuing move towards the centre, she had no immediate chance of career advancement. There was no guidance on how to deal with the press attention. And Parliament itself was not, she found, the ideal work environment: ‘The Commons is a fucking appalling place really, isn’t it? It’s full of men lounging around in bars all day. Awful baggy grey men in awful baggy grey suits.’ [3]

She gravitated towards the hard-Left Campaign group of Labour MPs that was clustered around Tony Benn, as did Bernie Grant, her comrade from Tottenham. Keith Vaz and Paul Boateng, however – the other two veterans of the black sections movement who’d been elected – were considered to be on the soft Left and looked to settle into the mainstream of the parliamentary party.

Abbott attempted to create a black caucus in Westminster, but found there was not enough common ground. Grant suggested there was also a clash of egos: ‘Too many chiefs and not enough Indians,’ he observed. ‘No! That sounds racist. Let me try a different analogy: too many bowls and not enough skittles.’ [4]

There was not always much unity to be found even within the Campaign group. When, in 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, Grant’s instinctive response was to side with radical Islam. ‘The whites wanted to impose their values on the world,’ he argued, adding: ‘Burning books was not a big issue for blacks.’ It was a big issue for Abbott, though; she insisted that ‘this was a matter of principle. The Muslims were being misled, and she was opposed to censorship because minorities would suffer.’ [5]

Politically, her early years on the opposition backbenches were not studded with achievement. ‘When you’re in opposition, there’s not a lot you can do to change things,’ she shrugged. ‘Even in government, MPs don’t have a lot of power.’ [6] She served for a while on the Treasury select committee, where she attacked the fat cats in industry – the ones who got such a bad press in the 1990s – and called for ‘tax breaks to boost the housing market’. [7]

But mostly she was, at Westminster, just another voice in the eunuchs’ choir that was the Left. She voted against the renewal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and against Britain’s involvement in the Kuwaiti War. She criticized the party leadership’s reassertion of power, speaking out against Kinnock for using the block votes of trade unions ‘to smash the constituencies into submission’. [8] And, along with Jeremy Corbyn, she condemned freemasonry in the police force. Her only potentially significant moment came in 1993 when, working with right-wing Eurosceptic Tories, she and others on the Left voted in support of a referendum over the Maastricht Treaty. But even that came to nothing.

Little of this mattered a great deal, and she seemed to know it. She concentrated instead on her constituency, particularly after there was an early threat to deselect her for spending too much time abroad and not enough in Hackney. And she found much to occupy her in what was then one of the most deprived areas in the country.

‘My politics are the politics of the inner city,’ she said in 1990. ‘The inner city is the same, it is sui generis all over the world. It is characterized by a rawness and an energy which you do not get in the shire counties.’ She added: ‘Poverty in my constituency is not just an absence of money; it has to do with a whole pattern of social structures, and with living on the edge of violence.’ [9]

The major development in her life in this period was her marriage in 1991 to David Thompson, a Camden-based architect, and the subsequent birth of her son. When the couple broke up not long after, it gave some in the media a fine stick with which to beat her. ‘Finding herself inconveniently pregnant while single,’ wrote the Daily Express, ‘she decided to ward off any danger to her political career by marrying. Her husband alleges that she left him almost immediately after. This two-year sham marriage is now over.’ [10]

To be fair to the press, this did chime with Thompson’s account: ‘It was not going to look good if an African guy had made Britain’s first black woman MP pregnant and then dumped her.’ [11] Abbott herself never talked about the relationship, choosing rather to focus on her role as a working single mother:

I wanted my marriage to work, but it didn’t. There’s not much more to say, really. When a marriage ends, I don’t think it’s about laying blame. It’s very lonely bringing up a child on your own. I’ve never felt that I’m better off single, but that’s just the way it worked out. [12]

When Labour leader John Smith died in 1994, she supported Margaret Beckett in the election to choose his successor and, when Tony Blair won, lost no time in attacking the new leadership:

The Labour Party isn’t just about competence. It is about fairness. We want the sort of economic policies which would be fair to all our people. At the moment they don’t seem to be addressing issues of growth, full employment and public spending. [13]

At the conference that year, much to the surprise of commentators, she was elected onto the party’s national executive committee (NEC) for the first time, a decade on from her initial attempt. She remained there for three years, with a final re-election in 1996, when she came seventh out of the seven elected, though she did get more votes than Jack Straw or Peter Hain, as well as Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn. Indeed, from the Left, only Dennis Skinner polled higher than her.

If her arrival on the NEC in 1994 suggested that the party might be moving back to the left, however, the impression was shattered the following day with Blair’s speech launching the revision of Clause Four. Abbott was one of the first to express her disapproval: ‘Dropping Clause Four – I think the bitterness will come back to haunt him.’ [14]

In 1995 she told a Campaign group rally that there was still a role to play even under Blair – ‘It falls on all of you to try and stiffen the spine of our leader’ [15] – but the reality was that the Left was now more irrelevant than it had been for decades. Equally illusionary was the hope held by Abbott and others that Blair was just the salesman, and that the shadow chancellor was going to be much more radical in office: ‘Gordon [Brown] can say anything he likes if he thinks it is going to win the election. When Labour is in power they will be looking for other priorities apart from tax cuts.’ [16]

There was no evidence for this, nor any sign of weakness in the New Labour edifice. The NEC had effectively become a rubber-stamp, regularly finding that there were only two dissenting voices: those of Skinner and Abbott. The closest she came to the leadership was when both Blair and she were invited to contribute recipes to The Islington Cookbook; he offered fettuccine with sundried tomatoes and capers, she opted for rice and peas.

Her unexpected elevation to the NEC was perhaps the result of her increased public profile. She had become a regular on Question Time (there have been a total of 23 appearances) and in 1993 she was a guest on the Channel 4 chat show hosted by her old school friend Clive Anderson. That suggested a lightness of touch and a sense of humour that was evident again in 1995 during a first appearance (of four, to date) on Have I Got News for You. And of course such media interest was ultimately to lead to her regular gig on the Andrew Neil-hosted This Week, starting in 2003, where she shared a very small sofa with her other old school chum Michael Portillo.

She was serious about her causes, but also seemed like she was fun; she sometimes came over as patronizing, but was too jolly to be properly pompous; she could be smug, but that was hardly a novelty on television; and the verbal tics were entertaining in their predictability: ‘Let me just say this…’ and a drawled ‘Well, look…’, the latter accompanied by eyes rolling upwards and the sound of a brain desperately trying to find a way of avoiding the question. Since the Left were no longer considered a threat, she could now be accepted simply as one of Labour’s best media performers, an engaging and popular figure who could generally be counted on to say something interesting.

And often it was genuinely interesting. Her take on Margaret Thatcher struck a gleefully macabre note that would surely have met with the approval of her childhood favourite H.H. Munro:

She was an interesting study, a woman in a sea of men, completely dominating them. She is loopy, you can see it in her eyeballs, and the men she dominated were all wet. The most amazing period was her defeat. For two weeks, there was an air of suppressed hysteria on the Tory benches. They were like a gang of schoolboys who had dismembered matron. [17]

Sometimes, on the other hand, her comments could whip up a fine storm of outrage. In a 1996 article for the Hackney Gazette, she criticized Homerton Hospital in her constituency for employing ‘blonde, blue-eyed girls from Finland,’ rather than recruiting nurses from the Caribbean ‘who know the language and understand British culture and institutions’. [18] She added (and here was that patronizing tone):

I am sure that these young women are charming. But they are basically here to improve their English and are unlikely to give the British health service a lifetime’s commitment. Are Finnish girls who may never have met a black person before, let alone touched one, best suited to nurse in multicultural Hackney? [19]

It was a front-page story in much of the press, and she was obliged to issue a statement that was presumably intended to ease the controversy: ‘I very much regret that one sentence of my article for a local paper has led to a widespread misunderstanding of my position.’ [20] It was not immediately obvious, however, which sentence in particular she thought was the one that had caused people to take offence.

She probably wasn’t helped when Bernie Grant joined the debate in characteristically clumsy fashion: ‘Scandinavian people don’t know black people – they probably don’t know how to take their temperature.’ [21] When it was revealed that there was actually a black Finnish nurse working at Homerton, and then when the press discovered – to its undiluted joy – that the reigning Miss Finland was also black, Abbott had to clarify further: ‘The issue is not one of colour.’ [22] Her use of words like ‘blonde’, ‘black’ and ‘blue-eyed’ may inadvertently have given the wrong impression.

In her defence, the novelist Ferdinand Dennis pointed out that Abbott (‘who is both my relative and my MP’) was an effective and popular ‘spokesperson for black causes’, and that ‘the more she alienates mainstream Britain, the more she endears herself to most black Britons’. [23] It was, maybe, the counterpart argument to that being put forward at the time by Eric Forth, an ex-communist turned right-wing Tory MP: ‘There are millions of people in this country who are white, Anglo-Saxon and bigoted, and they need to be represented.’ [24]

Dennis accepted that, on this occasion, Abbott’s comments were ‘silly’ but argued that there was a real issue here: as Britain grew closer to the EU, so the ‘links with the former colonies are weakening’. And that worried those with family roots in the Commonwealth. Anyway, so what if, ‘carried away by her passion and sincerity, she sometimes oversteps the boundaries of propriety and causes minor offence’? She made a mistake, that was all and, ‘After half a century in this country, black Britons have earned the right to make bloomers.’ [25]

Unwilling to let it go entirely, Abbott returned to the subject of Homerton Hospital a couple of months later, in an article for the Nursing Standard, accusing it of ‘institutional racism’, and saying: ‘Black nurses are the Cinderellas of the NHS. No one appreciates their contribution, no one talks about the racism they suffer.’ [26]


Once Labour were in office, in the triumphalist pomp of the early Blair years, she drifted still further from favour. At one point the education secretary David Blunkett and two of his junior ministers had to be reprimanded by the Speaker for heckling Abbott from the front bench as she spoke in the Commons. ‘It seems to be government policy these days that unless you toe the Millbank line, they will shout you down,’ she said. ‘They called me a ragged trousered philanthropist engaged in crocodile tears.’ [27]

She was one of those signing an early day motion condemning the poster for the Prodigy’s single ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ on the ground that it incited violence toward women. Arguably more significant, however, was her vote in 1998 – along with the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, George Galloway, Ken Livingstone and John McDonnell – against her own government over the issue of military action against Iraq, a stance she was to maintain in 2003.

Throughout, she kept hammering away at the theme of racism within the Labour Party. Reflecting on her time on the NEC, she claimed:

In Manchester, Birmingham and East Midlands constituencies, Asian candidates launched determined efforts to get selected. In every case, party officials (egged on by hysterical white MPs) countered with accusations of corruption and threats of disciplinary action. Where necessary, local parties were closed down to stop Asian party members voting for the candidate of their choice.

She also noted that ‘of the record number of new women Labour MPs elected in 1997, only one [Oona King] was black.’ [28] And, she insisted, lip-service was still being paid: ‘The issue of race for New Labour is like a bunch of red roses on a table, it’s purely decorative. Millbank is run by groups of young, white men. Tony Blair has surrounded himself with groups of young white men.’ [29]

When, in 2002, government figures showed that black boys were four times more likely to be excluded from school than white boys. Abbott argued that the problem lay with the fact that most teachers were now female and ‘it would be remarkable if all white women teachers were entirely free from the racial stereotypes that permeate this society about black men’. These women were scared, she said, because black male teenagers were ‘often bigger than their white counterparts and may come from a culture which is more physical’. [30]

That intervention set her up nicely for the biggest controversy of her career: her decision in 2003 to send her son James not to the local comprehensive school but to the private City of London School, which cost £10,000 a year in fees. The gulf between this action and Abbott’s long professed views on private education was too good a story to miss; such naked hypocrisy must surely, hoped the Sunday Mirror, bring about the downfall of ‘the High Priestess of Dogma … a paid-up member of the Surly Tendency’. This was ‘political Hari Kari’.

‘I know what I’ve done is intellectually incoherent,’ Abbott said. ‘I had to decide what matters to me more – my job as an MP or my son. And I’m very clear on the fact that it’s my son. So if sending him to private school means the end of my career as an MP, then so be it.’ [31]

James, then twelve years old, made his own contribution, phoning the London radio station LBC to explain that it was his decision. ‘My mum didn’t force me to go to private school. I took the test for the schools I wanted to go to, and I chose the school I wanted to go to.’ He added his own – probably accurate – assessment: ‘The facilities, the resources and the teachers seem better than the state school.’ [32]

As it turned out, Abbott didn’t lose her seat as a result of the furore. The teaching unions and the Left denounced her actions, and many have held it against her ever since, but her constituents seemed more forgiving, perhaps because they knew how appalling London comprehensives were at this stage, and knew how black boys in particular were being failed. When Harriet Harman had been caught up in a similar controversy a few years earlier, one of the few prepared to defend her had been Bernie Grant; many of his black constituents, he said, were sending their children to the West Indies to get a better education: ‘When they get to the Caribbean, they are put in classes two years younger than them.’ [33]

Abbott’s majority fell substantially at the 2005 election, but has since returned to ultra-safe levels (it stood at 48 per cent at the last election). Asked some years later, she said she had no regrets over her decision. ‘I was taught that you sacrifice everything for your child,’ she said in 2010. ‘That school was the making of him.’ [34]

In 2007 Tony Blair stepped down as prime minister, and handed the mantle to Gordon Brown. Abbott had for years – not least from the cosy, if squashed, sofa on This Week – publicly looked forward to this moment. Brown was going to undo the Blair years, restore decency to Labour, remind the party of its roots and history. He did, of course, no such thing, and New Labour rolled onwards. The Left never displayed the same visceral dislike of Brown’s premiership, but their opposition continued into the new regime.

In 2008 the government introduced a counter-terrorism bill that would give the police the power to hold suspects for 42 days without charge. Abbott had never been seen as a great Commons performer, but this provoked her finest moment in the chamber, with a contribution that won the Spectator‘s Parliamentary Speech of the Year award:

I do not believe, as ministers continue to insist, that there is some sort of trade-off between our liberties and the safety of the realm. I believe that what makes us free is what makes us safe and what makes us safe is what will make us free.
This is about positioning, this is about putting the Conservative party in the wrong place on terrorism. We shouldn’t play ducks and drakes with our civil liberties in order to get a few months advantage in opinion polls. [35]

Apart from anything else, it was a wonderful reminder of how beautifully dated much of her imagery is, presumably stemming from her childhood love of classic literature. The phrase ‘ducks and drakes’ was the kind of expression with which James Callaghan used to pepper his speeches.

In 2010, having lost the election, Brown resigned as Labour leader. And, after 23 years on the backbenches, Abbott startled commentators and colleagues by going on Radio 4’s Today programme to announce that she was going to stand for the leadership herself.

It was a wholly unexpected development, but Jeremy Corbyn, for one, was enthusiastic. ‘There was an attempt to railroad the debate into a small number of candidates, but we need a wide range,’ he said, though he was careful to hedge his bets, since John McDonnell was still in the field at that point. ‘Both are good colleagues, experienced, well informed. We need that kind of candidate.’ [36] In the event, Abbott secured more nominations than McDonnell and he dropped out of the race, though her place on the ballot was only secured at the last minute by the patronage of David Miliband and others.

Obviously, she didn’t win. She came a poor fifth out of five, under the rules then operating, though – perhaps foreshadowing what was to come in 2015 – she got more individual votes than either Ed Balls or Andy Burnham.* And, she believed, her participation had helped change the nature of the debate:

One of the things that made me run was hearing candidate after candidate saying that immigration lost us the election. Rather than wringing our hands about the white working class and immigration, we need to deal with the underlying issues that make white and black people hostile to immigration; things like housing and job security. We need to be careful about scapegoating immigrants in a recession. We know where that leads. [37]

It also did her career no harm. With Ed Miliband duly elected leader, she was given a frontbench job at long last, as shadow minister for public health. She made a pretty decent fist of it, as well, though she still couldn’t help courting controversy.

In 2012, following the Stephen Lawrence murder trial, she got in trouble again, this time for a Twitter exchange with a journalist who’d criticized ‘black leaders’. Abbott tweeted: ‘White people love playing divide and rule. We should not play their game. #tacticasoldascolonialism’. Having been interrupted in the middle of a Sky News interview to receive ‘a massive bollocking’ from Miliband, she then apologized. ‘Tweet taken out of context,’ she tweeted. ‘Refers to nature of 19th century European colonialism. Bit much to get into 140 characters.’ [38]

She was sacked the following year. Her subsequent analysis of Miliband’s leadership style was an early indication that things were going seriously wrong. There was the suggestion that he wanted to impose a Blairite on-message orthodoxy, but lacked the competence to do so:

I used to have a young man working for me, and they would ring up and pour abuse on him. ‘She’s up there, she’s not reading off the script.’ Sometimes he would say, ‘We haven’t seen the script.’ They’d say, ‘That’s no excuse. She’s not using the script.’ [39]

But things were about to turn her way. Following Labour’s 2015 general election defeat, her old comrade Jeremy Corbyn was pushed into having a go at the leadership himself. Her own simultaneous bid to be Labour’s mayoral candidate for London failed (she came third behind Sadiq Khan and Tessa Jowell), but she found a new lease of political life as Corbyn’s most enthusiastic, articulate and media-friendly cheerleader, scarcely able to believe what she was witnessing, as his bandwagon rolled on to victory:

The British political class is frozen with the fear at the idea Jeremy will actually win this leadership election – it’s by no means certain but the very notion of it terrifies people because the energy behind him has the power to disrupt and to change and transform politics. [40]


Just a year earlier she seemed to have conceded that Labour’s future belonged to the plausible young men. ‘He’s hugely charismatic and has huge potential and is still quite young,’ she said of Chuka Umunna. ‘It would be fantastic to have a black leader of the Labour party, and I hope to see it in my lifetime.’ [41]

Now, in the most extraordinary political development for decades, the survivors of the London Left from the 1980s had seized control of the commanding heights of the Labour Party.

In his first shadow cabinet, Corbyn appointed Abbott spokesperson for international development, and later promoted her to shadow health secretary following the wave of shadow cabinet resignations in June 2016.

And there she sits now, at the right hand of her former lover, the man with whom she had a relationship in the 1970s until they discovered on a motorcycle tour of East Germany that they weren’t really destined for each other. Some have even identified Corbyn as the person she was referring to, back in 1985, when she told She magazine that her ‘finest half-hour’ had been ‘making love to a naked man in a Cotswolds hayfield’. [42]

She is reaping the rewards of political consistency. Had she wished, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to have played on her attractive media-friendly image to trim her sails and thereby to secure advancement. If she had been prepared to meet him halfway, surely Tony Blair would have leapt at the chance of appointing the first black woman to a government job. She might even have followed Paul Boateng into cabinet.

Yet she appears to have given the idea no consideration at all, remaining firmly on the Left. As a result, any hope of promotion seemed pretty much over when Blair was elected leader. That ambition she articulated as a 22-year-old, that she wanted power, seemed to have drifted into the remote past. ‘You could not have any less power than as an opposition MP out of favour with the leadership of her party,’ she observed in 1996. [43]

She has never really strayed far from the path she charted after leaving university. Despite the inevitable and invaluable focus on racial issues across her career – her ‘chippiness about race,’ as the Sunday Times saw it [44] – her core arguments have always been primarily about class. Asked once about social problems in black communities, she replied:

When you are looking at children born out of wedlock and males not meeting their responsibilities, the underlying reasons are economic. One of the misgivings I have about New Labour is that it’s rather too prone to talk abstractly about family values, rights and responsibilities and doesn’t address itself enough to how to get these people back into work. [45]

The woman who once called for MPs to have a compulsory retirement age of sixty is now sixty-two. But clearly it’s hard to give up when the future looks brighter than it has at any stage in her political career. Anyway, as she once pointed out, ‘Being an MP is a good job, the sort of job all working-class parents want for their children – clean, indoors, and no heavy lifting.’ [46]

This sentence was amended following comments by Daniel Blaney, for which I am grateful.

As with all the portraits in this series, this piece is drawn almost entirely from contemporary newspaper accounts. It is liable, therefore, to be wildly inaccurate


[1] Independent 18 January 1994

[2] Times 6 October 1990

[3] Sunday Times 1 December 1996

[4] Times 13 August 1993

[5] Tony Benn, The End of an Era: Diaries 1980-90 (Hutchinson, 1992) pp. 558-9

[6] Independent 18 January 1994

[7] Daily Express 7 July 1995

[8] Times 3 October 1988

[9] Times 6 October 1990

[10] Daily Express 6 September 1993

[11] Sunday Times 1 December 1996

[12] Daily Telegraph 17 June 2010

[13] Daily Express 28 September 1994

[14] Times 5 October 1994

[15] Daily Express 2 October 1995

[16] Times 29 April 1997

[17] Independent 18 January 1994

[18] Guardian 29 November 1996

[19] Daily Express 28 November 1996

[20] Guardian 29 November 1996

[21] Independent 29 November 1996

[22] Daily Express 28 November 1996

[23] Guardian 30 November 1996

[24] Daily Telegraph 19 May 2006

[25] Guardian 30 November 1996

[26] Daily Express 16 January 1997

[27] Guardian 18 March 1998

[28] Observer 28 May 2000

[29] Observer 22 April 2001

[30] Observer 6 January 2002

[31] Sunday Mirror 2 November 2003

[32] Morning Star 29 October 2003

[33] Independent 25 January 1996

[34] Daily Telegraph 17 June 2010

[35] Guardian 12 June 2008

[36] Guardian 21 May 2010

[37] Guardian 21 May 2010

[38] Sun 6 January 2012

[39] Observer 13 October 2013

[40] Independent 20 August 2015

[41] Independent 11 December 2014

[42] Sunday Times 1 December 1996

[43] Observer 21 January 1996

[44] Sunday Times 1 December 1996

[45] Observer 21 January 1996

[46] Sunday Times 1 December 1996



2 thoughts on “‘No heavy lifting’: A press portrait of Diane Abbott (pt 2)

  1. The biggest journey Abbott has been on is the transformation of her views on the EU. Her racist comments from 1996 on EU nurses working in Britain did have a fundamental point – that in joining the EU the UK had turned its back on its former colonies and that there was an alternative to employing Scandinavian blondes – namely employing black and brown skinned people from the Commonwealth. Twenty years later, Abbott is probably the most vocal supporter of the continued employment of predominantly white EU workers in the NHS. While people can reasonably speculate on whether Corbyn ducked a fight with the Labour Party on BREXIT, there can be no doubt where Abbott’s views lie. The question I am left with is whether she is so pro the EU that she wishes to hide the possibility of needed workers continuing to be employed in the UK under an independent, post-BREXIT immigration policy or whether she is too dim to understand that that possibility exists.

    The other impression I am left with is that Abbott is less interested in changing Britain than in ensuring Black British people got a bigger slice of the cake. Public schools are fine as long as more black children go there. The BBC is fine as long as more black people are in highly paid jobs off and on screen. The House of Commons, expenses, pensions and all, is fine as long as there are more black MPs. The City is fine, as long as it employs more black stockbrokers. As with so many people from Ed Miliband leftwards, there is no consideration as to what is required to generate the finances to support the government and its projects – just the assumption that the private sector will hang around to be milked. No constructive involvement in education because her assumption that all teachers are white and therefore an easy target for blame would be challenged. No interest in rebuilding the UK’s manufacturing base and reducing its dependence on the City, because industry is what white people do. Not even a passing mention for green technology. That is probably for geeks. I suspect she is totally blind to her own prejudices.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You make some good points, especially with regard to race. Her own gushing praise for Chuka Umunna proves that – he’s quite far from her politically and understands complex views on immigration. But he’s black, so therefore it would be okay if he became leader. I wonder what her and her fellow travellers would make of Kemi Badenoch or Kwasi Kwarteng as Tory leader. No doubt she would say something offensive, as she has a talent for doing. One thing is for sure – I don’t want her to be Home Secretary, and neither do the British public. She’s still fighting the battles of the 80s on race, as evidenced by a recent speech. She just isn’t a government minister in waiting.


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