(from Brian Reade’s column in the Daily Mirror Oct 30 2003)
Well, thank God that tub-thumping, redder-than-red, socialist MP Diane Abbott is in the clear after all. As listeners to a London radio station found out, it wasn’t HER decision to send her son James to a public school but her boy’s. Which makes everything fine. And it sends out an inspirational message to any other Labour-voting parent with £10,000-a-year to spare, who can’t bear to let their precious offspring rough it with the oiks at the local comp. Just say you can’t let your principles get in the way of your kid’s foot-stomping demand to speak posh in a cap.
But why stop there? If junior wants to invest his pocket money in an off-shore tax haven, hunt with dogs, beat up asylum- seekers, shoot burglars, join Bupa and the BNP, what can you do? At 12, they just WON’T listen. There is something about the stench of socialist hypocrisy that is uniquely repulsive. It’s to do with letting down people who have nobody else to turn to. Conning your way to power through making eloquent stands against inequalities that, deep-down, you agree with.
How can Abbott, who lambasted Tony Blair and Harriet Harman for not sending their kids to the local comprehensive, justify sending her son to a far more exclusive school, buying even better life-chances for him, than they did? How can she let him swan off to an Oxbridge conveyor belt while giving the four Hackney schools he could have gone to another kick in the guts? It is worse behaviour than any Tory’s. Because she was elected to make the most deprived educational area in Britain a better place by tackling the masonic privileges she has just signed up to.
If this were still the Labour Party every constituent member would be given the right to de-select her. But it isn’t. In fact, under New Labour Abbott has just upped her chances of joining the Cabinet because in their lingo she has “shown courage in the face of tough choices”. In other words, shown how willing she is to crap on every working-class family she represents.
The only MPs they want to kick out of the party today are ones like George Galloway. Why? Because he stuck to his principles. He said what most of the party was thinking, that the war in Iraq was obscene and illegal, and British troops should not be fighting there. His comments, which may have been expressed cack-handedly, but which stemmed from deep personal beliefs, did not cost the life of one British soldier. But Blair’s and Jack Straw’s did. And what’s worse, theirs were lies. They knew it and now we know it. So if anyone betrayed the Labour Party over Iraq and put the next election in jeopardy it is the leadership. Yet Galloway is sacrificed without a peep from his gutless backbench colleagues.
Meanwhile, party lackeys defend Abbott with the standard waffle trotted out for Blair and Harman: “It’s every parent’s right to choose… blah, blah, blah.” The same waffle she has repeatedly attacked to earn a highly- lucrative second career as TV’s token female leftie. Who is the genuine Labour MP here, Galloway or Abbott? Which one would you most like to see kicked into touch? Me too. But instead he’s excommunicated while she prospers. It’s time New Labour was given another makeover and re-named the Non-Ronseal Party. Because it is the one oily product that does exactly the opposite of what it says on the tin.