A Question Time audience member has blasted Amber Rudd’s offensive description of black MP Diane Abbott and said: ‘It’s only curtains that are coloured’.
The unnamed woman was clapped and cheered on the BBC show last night as she criticised the under-fire minister’s choice of language and said: ‘It’s about time that lady learned’.
Today the Work and Pensions Secretary looked frosty as she left her central London home today and refused to answer questions about her blunder.
When asked if she had anything to add to her humbling apology for referring to Ms Abbott as ‘coloured’ she said repeatedly: ‘Good morning’ before getting into her ministerial car.
Her comments on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show yesterday where she called Ms Abbott a ‘coloured woman’ during a debate about racism and abuse of women have been branded ‘bloody outrageous’.
The issue was discussed on Question Time in Dudley last night and the audience member told the panel: ‘I am a black lady. I’m not interested in politics. I’m not interested in religion. I’m interested in people. I think it’s about time that lady learned to know it’s only curtains that are coloured.
The pensioner who blasted Amber Rudd was clapped and cheered on Question Time last night as she said: ‘It’s only curtains that are coloured’
The woman said Ms Rudd had made the mistake of looking at a person’s race before seeing them as a human being. The minister looked frosty and refused to comment this morning
‘And if you want to speak about people you do not look at their colour. You look at it as they are human beings like everybody else’.
Yesterday Ms Rudd was forced to apologise yesterday after she referred to Labour frontbencher Diane Abbott as ‘coloured’ on a day of blunders by senior Tory women.
The Work and Pensions Secretary prompted a fierce backlash after using the ‘outdated’ and ‘offensive’ term while being interviewed about online abuse suffered by women.
Miss Rudd later said she was ‘mortified’ by her use of language. She wrote on Twitter: ‘Mortified at my clumsy language and sorry to @HackneyAbbott. My point stands: that no one should suffer abuse because of their race or gender.’
She was among three female Cabinet ministers who came under criticism yesterday for controversial comments.
In response to a question about internet trolling, Miss Rudd told BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine: ‘It definitely is worse if you’re a woman, and it’s worst of all if you’re a coloured woman.
‘I know that Diane Abbott gets a huge amount of abuse and I think that’s something we need to continue to call out.’
Tory minister Amber Rudd was forced to make a grovelling apology to Diane Abbott after calling her a ‘coloured woman’ on Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show yesterday while they debated racism and abuse of women
Ms Rudd quickly issued her own apology for the gaffe but the remarks had by then been widely shared online
Ms Abbott, 65, (pictured on Sunday) responded on Twitter, saying: ‘The term ‘coloured’, is an outdated, offensive and revealing choice of words.’
Ms Abbott was quick to pick up on Ms Rudd’s choice of words on the radio, taking to Twitter to call it out
And fellow Labour MPs were quick to attack the Tory’s slip, suggesting she used outdated language that belonged int he past
Miss Abbott, the shadow home secretary, responded: ‘The term ‘coloured’ is an outdated, offensive and revealing choice of words.’
Amber Rudd’s comments show she is ‘out of touch’
Amber Rudd’s ‘coloured’ slur showed the Work and Pensions Secretary is ‘out of touch’, according to a leading cultural expert.
Professor Andrew Canessa, head of sociology at Essex University, said the language Ms Rudd used to describe Labour’s Diane Abbott yesterday was ‘outdated’.
‘I suspect that she did it innocently but ignorantly,’ Dr Canessa said. ‘If somebody was familiar with African and Caribbean populations in the United Kingdom you just wouldn’t have used that word.
‘I cannot divine her motives but I suspect it was well-intentioned and that she was trying to be polite, but she was using a kind of politeness from the 1960s rather than a form of politeness from the 21st century.
‘It does show that people are out of touch with contemporary Britain and that is an issue – the lack of familiarity with British culture. It suggests she doesn’t know many African and Caribbean people.’
He added: ‘The reason it’s offensive now is because it’s not the preferred term of choice for people of African and Caribbean heritage.
‘It’s also inaccurate. They’re not really ‘coloured’ and it references the colour of someone’s skin rather than a cultural heritage.
‘It’s outdated to say the least. It’s a bit like calling people half-caste, which was broadly acceptable or seemed to be 40 or 50 years ago but is actually now quite offensive.’
In the interview, Miss Rudd went on to refer to a report by Lord Bew, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, into the trolling of public figures. ‘It definitely was the case that women get it more, black and black minority ethnic women get it additionally,’ she said.
‘It is just a particularly nasty form of attack that focuses on gender and colour.’
Responding to the minister’s comment, Labour MP Danielle Rowley claimed Miss Rudd ‘clearly gets her language from the same bygone era as her abhorrent welfare policies’.
Another Labour MP, David Lammy, added: ‘You might forgive your grandma for saying it, but Cabinet ministers in 2019 should know better than this. Using the term ‘coloured’ to describe anyone who is not white is offensive because it assumes being white is somehow normal or the default.’
SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes described Miss Rudd’s comments as ‘bloody outrageous’.
But Tory MP Johnny Mercer tweeted: ‘Ridiculous stuff going on around one of the loveliest members of Parliament up here, who was speaking out against racism. Mis-spoke, apologised. You can’t say you want human beings as MPs and then hammer them for inadvertent slip-ups. Move on.’
Earlier in the day, to mark International Women’s Day, Miss Rudd had posted a video of herself reading out abuse she suffered online.
Following her ‘coloured’ comments, she was subjected to a wave of abuse from internet users who described her as a ‘dinosaur’, ‘nasty little racist’ and ‘disgusting’. The apology by Miss Rudd, seen as a potential future Tory leadership challenger, comes four months after she returned to the Cabinet after resigning as home secretary last April over the Windrush scandal.
Last month former Labour MP Angela Smith, who quit the party to join the new Independent Group, apologised after she seemed to suggest people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds had a ‘funny tinge’.
Advice on racial terminology issued to UK universities describes the term ‘coloured’ as ‘outdated’, although ‘still fairly commonly employed’. It adds, however, that its usage tends to cause offence.