MP Diane Abbott In Twitter Race Row

Shadow Health Minister Diane Abbott is at the centre of a Twitter row over claims she made racist comments.

Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and Shadow Health Minister Diane Abbott

Shadow Health Minister Diane Abbott is at the centre of a Twitter row over claims she made racist comments.

Responding to criticism of the term "black community leaders" she wrote: ''White people love playing 'divide & rule' We should not play their game''.

Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi says Labour leader Ed Miliband should sack her for "inciting hatred against white people".

Ms Abbott, the first black woman to be elected as an MP, later wrote her remark had been "taken out of context".



She was reacting on Twitter to a conversation about media coverage in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder trial to a woman who complained about the use of the term "the black community" in the media.

'Intolerable'

The Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP, who stood for Labour leader in the 2010 contest, remarked: "White people love playing 'divide & rule'. We should not play their game" followed by "#tacticasoldascolonialism" - a way Twitter users flag up keywords and topics.

She added: "Ethnic communities that show more public solidarity & unity than black people do much better".

Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Radio 5live her comments were "intolerable".

"This is racism," he said.



"If this was a white member of Parliament saying that all black people want to do bad things to us he would have resigned within the hour or be sacked.

"For a shadow minister to hold these sort of views is intolerable, it is wrong, she needs to go."

But another Conservative MP, Robert Halfon disagreed

He tweeted: "The right should know better than to get all PC re @HackneyAbbott - disagree strongly, but let voters decide. Freedom of speech & all that."

The former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris said although her comments were "wrong" the reaction they had provoked from some others was out of proportion.



"The abuse that Diane Abbott has had on some blog websites is far worse than the offence that she caused."

Ms Abbott's comments also sparked much criticism from other Twitter users.

Ms Abbott updated her page on Twitter later to say: "Tweet taken out of context. Refers to nature of 19th Century European colonialism. Bit much to get into 140 characters."