Labour’s Diane Abbott has been labelled a “source of disunity” in the fight against racism by conservative commentator Tim Montgomerie, accusing her of conflating genuine racism with understandable opposition to the taking of the knee gesture associated with the far-left Black Lives Matter activist group.
In a heated exchange on Politics Live on Tuesday, Montgomerie lamented the lack of an intervention by the Football Association over the taking of the knee gesture adopted by England’s footballers throughout the Euro 2020 tournament, suggesting there were far more appropriate ways of uniting against racism which would have united the country.
On the topic of taking the knee, the conservative commentator said the football authorities “could have seen this coming”.
“The Black Lives Matter movement is divisive – that’s a fact! We could have found another gesture, applauding for a minute with a Kick Out Racism message. There were plenty of ways that this could have been done without causing division.
“I don’t blame the young players at all, I blame the football authorities for not seeing this coming because it was obvious very early on, and I’m afraid I blame people like you Diane, too. You’re too eager to see racism from Tories when there isn’t racism! There is just a very legitimate concern about the Black Lives Matter movement which has extreme views.”
The former shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott hit back, referring to the despicable racism received by England trio Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka following their penalty misses on Sunday evening, in addition to the racist graffiti left on a mural of Marcus Rashford in Manchester.
“Are you saying it’s not racist the way people were on Twitter and online calling about n*****s and how n*****s lost it? Don’t tell me that’s not racist!”
“I haven’t, and I haven’t begun to say that! Montgomerie explained. “I hate racism. As far as I’m concerned, every person who is born is born in the image of God, we are all absolute equal worth.
“What you are doing though, you are trying to collide the whole issue of that awful graffiti on Marcus Rashford’s mural and the terrible things that are said on social media with things that Priti Patel has said about a very extreme political movement.
“And that’s very bad, Diane, because you are a source of disunity rather than unity on a question where we should be united against the very real racism that English players face!”