“Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane

When Diane Abbott apologised for “any offence caused” over her racist comments, it was not a real apology - which is worse than none at all.


Last month, Left Foot Forward criticised Nazi-theme party attender/organiser Tory MP Aiden Burley for his non-apology over the issue.

Alex Hern wrote:

The MP has apologised – twice – albeit choosing his words carefully.

His first apology came in the original article:

“There was clearly inappropriate behaviour by some of the other guests and I deeply regret that this happened.

“I am extremely sorry for any offence that will undoubtedly have been caused.”

He made a similar statement on Twitter the day after. It may simply be that he doesn’t know that “I’m sorry” and “I’m sorry other people were bad and that you were offended” are different, but as apologies go, it leaves much to be desired.

Well, Diane Abbott has pulled a similar trick with her non-apology, following her twitter comments last night that ‘White people love playing divide & rule’

She said:

“I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people.

“I do not believe in doing that. I apologise for any offence caused.”

Something is either OK or is wrong. If it is OK, there’s no need for an apology but if it’s wrong, one is needed.

What Diane Abbott said was wrong and she needs to apologise for it – not any effect it had. Politicans need to learn that a weasel-worded apology is worse than none at all.

See also:

• Nazi Party Tory is sorry you were offended – Alex Hern, December 12th 2011

Action must be taken whenever racism rears its ugly head – including in sportSabby Dhalu, December 13th 2011

Too many on the Left are continuing to promote Islamic extremistsGeorge Readings, November 12th 2011

Four old acquaintances that Livingstone should forget – Daniel Elton, May 3rd 2011

The dehumanising rhetoric undermining the student movement – David Barclay, April 17th 2011

46 Responses to ““Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane”

  1. Natalie Dzerins

    I agree that Diane Abbott should not have apologised ‘if people were offended’. I must, however, question how many people were actually offended? I mean, actually viscerally reminded of their own oppression and place lower down in the socio-economic pecking order and inherent discrimination by forms of power and all that? Not just wanted to have a cheap shot at a non-white female member of the Labour party? Because I’m guessing that number is somewhere between no one and zero. People need to get a grip on this, it’s purely ridiculous posturing-as-victims by some of the most powerful people in the country.

  2. Deri Jones

    The two are not even slightly similar: see below, source follows.

    Because when a white person gets a chance to brand a black person racist, especially in the wake of the Lawrence verdict, they give themselves permission to pretend that privilege and power and the kind of deep-seated racism that ruins people’s lives are things that don’t exist anymore.


  3. Jonathan Bishop

    The person who wrote this article is a racist bigot. I say that as someone whose race is Caucasian and whose ethnicity is ‘Mixed – Black and White’. By bigots not accepting there are differences between ‘Black’ and ‘White’ people, they are proving nothing has been learned since the Stephen Lawrence Report, which said by not accepting there are differences between races, ethnicities, colours, creeds, etc., persons are being ‘Institutionally Racist’.

    Please read some of my research and writing on ‘Black’ and ‘White’ culture:



  4. Anthony

    “Something is either OK or is wrong”
    I don’t believe everything can really be seen as that black or white (for want of a more appropriate phrase). Context genuinely blurs the lines and anything one says on twitter can be open to rabid misinterpretation, often to suit the ends of the accusers (for instance the Tory MP who jumped on Abbott in this case clearly hoping to score some points). Abbotts comment was clearly badly judged for an MP, but if she didn’t mean any offence all she can really do is apologise if some was caused right? It’s like playing tennis and accidentally hitting your opponent in the head with the ball, you say “Sorry I didn’t mean to hurt you”. I don’t really understand what you’re asking for?

  5. Roger Spackman

    Dianne should have chosen her words more carefully, the problem is that Twitter by it’s very nature encourages people to spurt off random thoughts, and worse yet limits the length of your thought to something ridiculously short, perhaps a more important campaign would be get twitter to allow longer tweets so people can express themselves more accurately.

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