Diane Abbott, who is moving forward in her bid to lead anti-terror operations after UK’s general election next month, has compared her past support for the IRA and their defeat of the British army to sporting an afro. On Sunday morning, Abbott was questioned over her previous views on terrorism and banned organizations amid a public debate about the consequences of the terror attack in Manchester, according to the Guardian.
There were four occasions in which Abbott refused to say that she “regrets” supporting IRA, which killed around 1,800 people in its bombing and shooting campaign. Abbott said the quotes brought to attention by Andrew Marr were 34-years-old and “we have all moved on.”
The comments are likely to unnerve the victims of those killed by the IRA.
“I had a rather splendid Afro at the time. I don’t have the same hairstyle, I don’t have the same views – it is 34 years on.”
In an interview with BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, Abbott said she no longer supported her previous calls for the abolition of MI5. The shadow of home secretary said she simply changed her mind. Abbott also defended her decision to sign a parliamentary motion which would oppose a ban on dangerous organizations — one of which includes al-Qaeda, according to the Daily Mail.
Abbott, who was then a labor counselor said, “Though I was born here in London, I couldn’t identify as British.” However, on the show, Diane had a different point of view and brushed off the comments. Abbott said when she made them she was sporting an afro.
“I had an afro. It was 34-years-ago. The hairstyle has gone and some of the views have gone. We have all moved on.”
In 1984, Abbott said Ireland “is our struggle –- every defeat of the British state is a victory for all of us. A defeat in Northern Ireland would be a defeat indeed.”
Abbott was also questioned on her decision to sign an early day motion calling for the abolition of “conspiratorial groups” such as MI5 and Special Branch back in 1989. Abbott said the organization has since been reformed.
“At that time, MI5 needed reforming. It has since been reformed and of course I would not call for its abolition now.”
Shortly before the 9/11 attacks, Abbott voted against prescribing organizations including al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba — which were also responsible for the Mumbai attacks. Diane said the list in question involved some organizations that should be seen as dissident groups and not terrorists. Marr questioned Abbot on why she carry this out.
“What the legislation brought forward was a whole list of organizations — some of which, people would argue were not terrorist organizations, but dissident organizations.”
Marr who asked her, “So you regret the fact, what you said about the IRA?” Abbott stuck to her previous response and said, ‘The hairstyle has gone, the views have gone. We have all moved on in 34 years Andrew, haven’t you?'”
The presenter stressed again, and said, “We have all moved on, I’m just wondering do you regret what you said about the IRA at the height of the bombing? Again, Diane dodged the question and said “what specifically do you want me to regret?” before repeating saying she has moved on in the past 34 years.
Marr began to read the list to Abbott –- which also included Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Armed Islamic Group, Harakat Mujahideen, the Tamil Tigers, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Group, the Islamic Army of Aden, the Abu Nidal Organisation, the Kurdistan Workers Party. He then asked Diane Abbott which on the list should not be imprisoned.
Abbott said there is a disparity in the titles of the groups.
“The titles are one thing, but the reality of some of those groups were that they were dissidents in their country of origin… Had they taken out al-Qaida as one thing, that would have been different.”
She then urged Marr and the media to focus less on her previous views and instead on how to combat terrorism now. “At this point less than a week after the terror attack in Manchester, we have to look forward at how to keep our people safe.”
When she was asked why she was qualified to be home secretary, Abbott insisted that she had worked as a graduate trainee in the Home Office so she was qualified to take on the role.
“We have put forward a manifesto which is a transforming manifesto for health and education and we say how we can afford it. There is something to be said for a home secretary who has actually worked in the Home Office – I worked there for three years as a graduate trainee… I have also had experience of being a constituency MP for more than 30 years.”
Amber Rudd, the home secretary, who appeared on Marr’s show following Abbott said her previous views were unacceptable.
“What I would say to Diane Abbot is I’ve changed my hairstyle a few times in 34 years as well, but I have not changed my view over how we keep the British public safe.”
[Featured Image by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images]