Belfast Telegraph

I'm not a fan of Diane Abbott's politics but she shouldn't have to take nasty comments from David Davis or social media users

By Lindy McDowell

When MP Diane Abbott appeared on Sky TV at the weekend she looked immaculate. Make-up subtle and professional, the hair newly-styled with that glossy shine that only hairdressers ever seem able to achieve.

Her soft navy jacket was accessorised by a big statement glass necklace. She looked fantastic.

And I know I'm starting to sound a bit like Grazia magazine here, but there is a point.

The point is this - there is absolutely nothing wrong with Ms Abbott's look at any other time. She looks like what she is. A working woman.

Yes, for some press interview outings, the specs do occasionally appear to have been plonked on her nose in a rush. A hairbrush swiftly run through her hair.

But so what?

As a working politician, she's presumably got more important things to think about than whether her eyeliner's smudged.

She's Shadow Home Secretary. Not Eye-Shadow Home Secretary.

So Sunday's pointedly slick showing may have been intended then, as a message - a forthright message, if we could put it like that - to fellow MP David Davis, among others.

Mr Davis, it was widely reported, had previously texted a colleague to deny that he hugged Ms Abbott following a Brexit vote.

On the grounds that: "I'm not blind."

Now, it would be fair to say Mr Adonis Davis is no Brad Pitt.

There is little possibility that movie bosses might be rushing, any time soon, to sign him as the new James Bond, should Daniel Craig decide to hang up those swim shorts of his.

The arrogance of the man, to think that any fellow MP would be gagging for a hug from him!

His comments were pathetic and belittling, and the person who came out of this exchange most belittled was swaggering Mr Davis himself.

Those words were hurtful, personal, and unnecessary.

Okay, they were obviously not intended for public airing - never mind to be shared with the woman herself. Even so.

Once revealed, they were stingingly personal. Any of us would have felt wounded.

As it turns out though, even this is nowhere near the shocking level of abuse that Ms Abbott deals with on a regular basis.

During her Sky interview she flagged up some of the wilder online flak she's received - crude, racist, nasty, misogynistic stuff that would frighten anyone.

Now, I am not a fan of Diane Abbott or of her politics. Far, far from it.

But listening to her and reading some of the abuse she's been subject to, I do feel sympathy for her. No-one deserves this sort of horrible treatment.

As she points out: "It kind of does get in your head. It kind of does demoralise you and it does - even though you know it shouldn't do - it does make you doubt yourself."

Ms Abbott is rightly calling for more to be done by social media giants like Twitter and Facebook to halt online abuse.

They, in turn, counter with the old "freedom of speech" argument.

Which is fine and dandy, except that all too often we don't know who is exercising this precious right to free speech online.

Generally, the online thugs (and they are thugs) hide behind some "witty" made-up name so they can fire off their bile anonymously.

If they were to be openly named and shamed, it might clip their spiteful wings just a bit.

But will Twitter and Facebook, with their eye on profits, ever facilitate this? Something needs to be done because, as she says herself, it's not just the high profile likes of Diane Abbott in the firing line of such venom.

Real harm is also being done to social media users with a lot less clout - many of them very young and vulnerable.

Internet providers need to do more - much more - to tackle these online brutes.

But it also goes without saying that Parliament - and its MPs in particular - should be giving a bit of a lead here.

Not stooping, themselves, to cheap personal abuse.

If anybody is coming out of this looking bad, Mr Davis MP, it is certainly not Diane Abbott.

Why we should be keeping eye on this 'un

In terms of world leaders with dodgy haircuts and their finger on the nuclear button, honestly, it's not Donald Trump who is worrying me most right now. It's Kim Jong-un whose murderous rule has extended to eradicating family members, including an older brother assassinated at a Malaysian airport this week.

Kim the younger, with his chubby toddler face and his odd, vaguely Peaky Blinders hairdo, is generally seen as a figure of fun.

But scarily, he's now firing missiles in the direction of Japan. In London they're marching against Trump. Is nobody looking East?

On road to nowhere with congestion issue

Be honest. If you're from Belfast and a commuter, were you really surprised to learn that two Belfast roads (only two?) have made it on to the UK's list of most congested?

The Lisburn Road route from College Gardens up to Wallace Park in Lisburn. And - oh, how well I know this one - from Ann Street, Belfast, up to Forestside.

What is being done to remedy this? We all know - nothing. The Assembly is merely about ticking boxes.

In this instance, bus lane and cycle lane boxes.

Meanwhile, workers stuck for hours in the rush hour congestion? We don't count...

Belfast Telegraph


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