'Amber Rudd calling Diane Abbott coloured must not be swept under the carpet'

Dear Amber,

As you quickly realised, within hours of clumsily saying “coloured” to describe your fellow MP Diane Abbott, the word is outdated, offensive and revealing.

I’m pleased that rather than trying to justify its use, you moved quickly to apologise and spoke of being “mortified” you said it.

No doubt your team are keen to draw a line under things and move on. But many aren’t as keen to quickly sweep it under the carpet and pretend nothing has happened.

As someone who was once married to a prominent journalist, you of all people should know the power of words.

It worries me a Cabinet Minister – one who was previously in charge of a Home Office that was presided over the Windrush scandal which saw Caribbeans wrong deported and denied legal rights – can so casually bandy around a term like coloured.

The Work and Pensions Secretary has said she is “mortified”


I cringed when I heard you say it in your BBC interview with Jeremy Vine. It’s the kind of language you might expect to hear from a great-grandad who doesn’t know any better.

And it makes me think, if you can use that word publicly, without skipping a beat, what kind of language do you use in private?

In making your wider point, ironically in defence of Diane, you said it was awful that “black and minority ethnic people suffer in this way”.

You know what, I feel using terms like “minority ethnic” to describe people are just as divisive.

They have become an acceptable way of reminding people that they are different, not the norm and by extension less than what is considered the mainstream.

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BAME and BME are politically correct acronyms that sprung up in recent years to allow politicians, squeamish about using the word black, to have a get out of jail free card.

But can you tell me what it actually means? Is it Black and Minority Ethnic? If so, where do Asian people fit into this description.

Or is it Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. In this case, who are the minority ethnic people that we are constantly trying to point to as being different?

You come from the party of Anne Marie Morris, the Conservative MP who in 2017 used the N-word in during a discussion about Brexit and Boris Johnson who has referred to black people as “piccaninnies” and having “watermelon smiles”.

As I heard someone say on the radio, this has to be a “teachable moment”. It can’t simply be yesterday’s news.

Diane Abbot has described the term as “outdated”


You have a responsibility to think long and hard about whether you have been guilty of perpetrating unconscious bias.

I know I certainly have been the victim of it.

I don’t dwell on it, but I vividly recall going for lunch with a junior colleague and someone asking me when I was bringing more of the hot food – the assumptions was that I was one of the canteen staff, I couldn’t possibly have been someone’s boss.

People scoff at diversity training, but at least it’s a start at addressing these complex issues and a sign you are acknowledging there is a problem.

Put processes in place, be it diversity training that specifically looks at race rather than just gender diversity, so that you as a leader can contribute to a Britain where, in the words of your own leader Theresa May, people are treated the same and have the same opportunity to fulfil their potential regardless of what background they come from.

Kind regards,



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