#BBC hounding #DianeAbbott to set news agenda around #Article50 vote

It’s well known to anyone who follows politics that Diane Abbott was absent from last week’s first-stage vote on the government’s bill to trigger Article 50 – the process, in case you’ve just woken from a coma, by which Britain begins its exit from the EU.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott

Ms Abbott was reportedly suffering from a migraine – a condition that can be debilitating in the extreme – and unable to attend. Right-wing Labour MPs were quick to publicly mock this, beginning and promoting a sarcastic #prayforDiane hashtag on social media, a move which not-all-that-arguably amounts to workplace bullying.

With the key ‘3rd reading’ vote due to take place in a couple of hours (as of writing this), the BBC has been assiduously trying to make it about Labour and Corbyn’s ‘fault’ for his decision to impose a ‘3-line whip’ on Labour MPs – even though the government yesterday had to make two key concessions just to reduce a threatened rebellion on its own benches to the 7 Tory MPs who voted in favour of a Labour MP’s amendment requiring the government to allow Parliament a full debate and vote on any deal.

The government was also criticised by some of its own MPs for the way it then tried to claim that the concessions were not concessions:


So the real news is the state of the party that’s actually in a position to change the direction and outcome of any Brexit negotiations. But the BBC is determined to make it all about Labour – and to do so, they decided to spend yesterday going after Diane Abbott.

The Facebook page of the Momentum group in Diane Abbott’s Hackney North & Stoke Newington constituency was contacted by a BBC researcher to see whether any of them would talk about their MP and today’s vote:


but got no takers. So they then tried subterfuge, contacting a local councillor to arrange an interview about his work – and then trying to switch the topic at the last minute:


In the end, Coban agreed to talk about Brexit and Labour, but not about Ms Abbott:


The BBC appears – and today’s coverage confirms it – determined to make the main ‘takeaway’ from today’s coverage of the debate and vote about supposed Labour divisions.

Which, given their track record, is no surprise. But it’s despicable that they should try to do so by in this way.

After all, George Osborne was conspicuous by his absence from yesterday’s 2nd-stage vote, which was more important than the 1st-stage vote Ms Abbott missed last week, but I haven’t seen or heard a single comment about that today -in stark contrast to Diane Abbott, who’s been mentioned almost every time the vote is discussed.

Apparently it’s not worth mentioning if you miss a vote, even if you’re not ill, as long as you’re male, white and – especially – a Tory.

Councillor Coban called it correctly:

She gets way too much heat that others don’t. Disgusting, to be honest.

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