Sunday, 8 January 2012
A classic from 1996.
A BLACK Labour MP triggered a furious backlash last night after attacking her local hospital for employing `blonde, blue-eyed' Finnish nurses.

Diane Abbott was left lamely denying charges of racism after saying the nurses had probably never met, `let alone touched', a black person before arriving in Britain and hinting that they were not suited to work in a multi-cultural community.

Managers, unions and staff of all colours at the East London hospital, which faces an acute shortage of nurses, united in protest at her `offensive' remarks in a local paper.

Last night they ridiculed claims by the hard-Left firebrand that her comments had been `twisted, distorted and taken out of context'.

After being pushed by Labour's high command into a frantic damage limitation operation, Miss Abbott - whose own mother came from the Caribbean to work as a nurse in the NHS - declared: `The issue is not one of colour.

The issue is that people should not be recruited from overseas in an area of mass unemployment.'

But in her newspaper column, she had written of the 30 Finnish nurses at Homerton Hospital in Hackney: `I'm sure these women are charming. But they are basically here to improve their English and are unlikely to give the British health service a lifetime's commitment.

`I am surprised that they choose to bring in blonde, blue-eyed girls from Finland, instead of nurses from the Caribbean who know the language and understand British culture and institutions.

`And are Finnish girls, who may never have met a black person before, let alone touched one, best suited to nursing in multi-cultural Hackney?'

One recruit, Taija Mykkanen, 24, said: `What Diane Abbott said is racist against us, it is really stereotyping people. What does it matter if you have blonde or black hair, you are all professional nurses. I've treated black people here - they have not complained to me about anything.

`They are people, we are people and I'm trained to treat patients, not black or white people.'

Last night, Miss Abbott, 43, was backtracking fast over her comments in the Hackney Gazette while insisting she had no reason to apologise.

`I do not care what colour hair the nurses have,' she said. `Because I am the local MP, everyone is trying to make a race story out of this.'

She claimed black nurses were leaving the profession `all the time' because of racism and lack of a career development.

`My concern is that in the inner city, big local employers should make an effort to recruit locally. Homerton makes no special effort, though it is the second largest employer in the area,' she added.

Carol Bailey, Homerton's director of human resources, retorted: `Of course we would take on black nurses if we could, but the fact is there is a huge shortage of applicants.'

She pointed out that the 400-bed hospital was training 60 local youngsters and said it was proud of its employment record.

The racial mix at Homerton, which serves 200,000 people, reflected the proportion of ethnic residents, said Mrs Bailey. About 40 per cent of nurses, ward sisters and senior midwives are of black and Asian origin.

But there were about 100 vacancies at any one time, forcing the hospital to recruit from abroad, she said.

It took only two weeks to complete paperwork to recruit from the EU compared to three months to get work permits from areas such as the Caribbean.

`It's a real problem and we've made representations to the Home Office,' said Mrs Bailey.

She added: `Her remark about whether Finnish nurses have ever touched black people before is very strange. We have always felt that colour is not important, it is professionalism that counts.'

Homerton's nursing chief Nancy Hallet immediately fired off a letter of protest to Miss Abbott from `distressed' staff of all ethnic origins.

`There is no doubt that without the Finnish nurses we would have considerable difficulty in running our wards and departments,' she told the MP.

`Your slight on the professional integrity and racial characteristics of the Finnish staff will do little to encourage this invaluable group to stay with us.'

The Royal College of Nursing also condemned the MP's remarks as insensitive.

`Nursing is a multi-cultural profession,' it said. `If Diane Abbott wants to support nursing in Hackney, we urge her to use her considerable influence to campaign for proper workforce planning to end nursing shortages.

`Morale amongst nurses at Homerton and other East London hospitals is already low and is not helped by such unfortunate comments as those from Diane Abbott.'

Ray Harris, of the public service union Unison, said the MP's remarks were regrettable, adding: `Most patients are not worried whether nurses are black, white or yellow.'

Staff nurse Joyce Mejeh

`I enjoy working with the Finnish girls on my ward. I'm from Nigeria and they are like me, going to another country. It means you have to try and fit in. We all work together as a team, I think it's good to have a mixture. She should not have said that about blonde hair and blue eyes or whatever.'

Staff nurse Satu Jaaskelainen

`I was furious, that is a ridiculous thing to say. I cannot find the words to express how angry I was. We are all human beings, there is no difference between me, an English nurse and a black English nurse. We do have black people in Finland as well. I was surprised to find so many different people here but I think it is great.'


DIANE ABBOTT'S outburst may have its roots in her own mother's experiences as an immigrant nurse.

Julia Abbott was a pupil teacher in rural Jamaica before leaving for London in 1950 and retraining to fill one of the many vacant posts in the burgeoning NHS.

When she retired in the late 1980s, she was a mental health worker at a Huddersfield hospital and her daughter seems to see her mother's lack of progress up the NHS as a symbol of the racism and sexism she believes is embedded in the British state.

When the MP was in hospital having her son James in 1991, she asked the administrators why the night nursing staff was all black.

`They said black women didn't want day work,' Miss Abbott recalled. `What rubbish. They've been conditioned to say that.'

In the flesh, she is no hard-faced revolutionary. A highly-charged extrovert who tends to overstate and under-prepare, her manner in private is clever, sophisticated and amusing.

Yet she has been described as having a massive chip on her shoulder and her personality and career are riddled with paradoxes.

She escaped her working-class roots through a first-class education at Harrow County Grammar School and Newnham College, Cambridge, although she later claimed the school had been hostile to her university ambitions.

But still she complained. `Cambridge reinforces the class system,' she said. `After the best the system could provide, I came away knowing nothing about Afro-Carribbean culture or literature.'

She joined the Home Office as a high flier and instantly detected `institutional racism.'

In 1979, she switched to the National Council for Civil Liberties, then became a TV reporter before a spell as Press officer for anti-white Linda Bellos, the lesbian feminist leader of Lambeth Council.

She was elected to the Commons in 1987 and joined the hard-Left dinosaurs in the Campaign Group.

She hints that her career was becalmed when she turned 40, recalling how she looked in a mirror and asked: `So, have you changed the world? The answer is no, but I am still trying.'
Source: Daily Mail, November 28, 1996


Anonymous said...

"'Divide and rule' Diane Abbott sent son to £6,000 private school in Ghana

Read more:

Anonymous said...

All I can say is that enough idiots out there voted for her. Some deliberately (ie like her politics), the rest because they mistakenly believe Labour represents the working people and still vote tribally.

Anonymous said...

Revolting excuse for a human. Overtly racist, incompetent and decisive. The 'immigrant vote' must keep letting these false-Labour hypocrites in every time there is a vote. You'd think she would have sympathy for these women coming in, especially as its to help out in her ward but no, they are white and in her eyes therefore inferior to those of a different skin colour. This is why Councils and Police forces cover-up so much, fear of reprisals from the pc/racism/apologist left-wingers that dominate the media air-time.

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