JUNE 6, 2002
MS. DIANE ABBOTT MP (UK)
TRANSCRIPT OF LIVE SESSION
(Jun 6, 2002 6:19:17 PM)
Afternoon...Ms Abbott......what exactly is the reason(s) for your
visit to Jamaica? We are glad to have you.
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:19:17
I come to Jamaica every year to visit family, eat the delicious
food and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Question(Jun 6, 2002 6:19:59
Where were you born?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:19:59
I was born in London, but my family are from Smithville in Clarendon
which was recently cut off by the floods.
6, 2002 6:20:19 PM)
What do you think is driving the Drug trade between Jamaica and
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:20:19
I think it is money.
6, 2002 6:22:00 PM)
Who is diana Abott
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:22:00
I am 48 years old and I was elected to the British Parliament in
1987. I was the first ever black woman elected to the British Parliament
in all its thousands of years history and there are still only two
black women out of 650 MPs. I am currently serving my fourth term.
6, 2002 6:24:00 PM)
Do you think the British Government is doing enough to reduce the
demand for drugs?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:24:00
The demand for drugs is partly a consequence of supply. For instance
when I was a young person no one heard of crack cocaine but now
because of increase availability many people are taking it.
6, 2002 6:24:31 PM)
Why is there a two-tier citizenship in the UK? It seems that way
to us. Our son was born in London and has a UK passport but has
grown up in Jamaica. I am Jamaican and my wife is English.
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:24:31
6, 2002 6:27:26 PM)
Who are the Black politician in the UK?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:27:27
Paul Boateng who originates from Ghana and who was recently appointed
to cabinet and was elected with me in 1987. David Lammey, a new
young MP of Guyanese origin who took over from my late colleague,
Bernie Grant who died in 2001 and Oona King whose mother is white
and whose father is a black American.
6, 2002 6:30:07 PM)
OH so you are not here on business or governmental issues?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:30:07
I am here on a private visit but I will be having a series if meetings
with the British High Commission about the drug mule problem and
i will be visiting the airport to inspect the new machines which
scan for cocaine.
(Jun 6, 2002 6:30:59 PM)
Where do they rank in the System? Influence and all?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:30:59
Paul Boateng is a member of the cabinet.
6, 2002 6:35:26 PM)
What do you do ? I have only heard the name
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:35:26
I am ever concern with education issues. I recently organized a
major conference in London attended by over 2000 persons, included
government ministers to address issues around black children's education.
I run Britain's leading organization for black women with over 700
members and I organize training seminars and a year long activities
for them. I am chair of the parliamentary group on race and community.
I am chair of the all party British Caribbean Group of MPs. Last
year I led a group of British to Belize in the Caribbean on a fact
finding mission. I am working very closely with the metropolitan
police in London on the gun crime issues. I work very hard to serve
my constituent in London and last but not least I am the mother
of a ten year old son.
(Jun 6, 2002 6:36:03 PM)
Does Paul Botang deserve his position? Is he good at what he does?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:36:03
Paul is very good at he does.
6, 2002 6:37:07 PM)
Is there a stong connection between the Ghettos in London and the
Drug Lords in Jamaica?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:37:07
6, 2002 6:37:44 PM)
How did you switch from Journalism to POlitics? Was the switch difficult?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:37:44
It was an easy switch. Politics and journalism are very closely
(Jun 6, 2002 6:37:57 PM)
Was it hard being the only black student in high school?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:37:57
6, 2002 6:38:52 PM)
Ms. Abbott do you know if Air Jamaica has had any direct contact
with the individuals that so coldly singled them out?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:38:52
I believe that Air Jamaica is working hard to counteract recent
Question (Jun 6, 2002 6:39:45
How many Jamaican Drug mules are taken of British Airways planes
in a given week?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:39:45
My understanding is that roughly equal numbers of drug mules come
in on both British Airway and Air Jamaica flights.
6, 2002 6:42:21 PM)
Why is it that a first world country can't control there citizens
yearning for drugs?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:42:21
If drugs are available people will take them whether it is illegal
drug like ganja and cocaine or legal drugs like alcohol.
6, 2002 6:43:32 PM)
So racism is very much alive then....how do you deal with it?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:43:32
I have always fought racism but I do not let racism define me or
limit my aspiration.
6, 2002 6:44:13 PM)
Ms. Abbott being connected to Jamaica did you feel violated as the
Jamaican people did when we all suffered from that negative press...what
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:44:13
All British people of Jamaican origin are upset and saddened by
the negative press.
6, 2002 6:46:36 PM)
Diane as the first female black MP brought into parliament along
with people like Paul Boateng (apologies if that is mis-spelt) what
do you think that you have done for the black voters in the UK,
considering that in the recent votes the turn out was one of the
lowest in history.
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:46:36
I have worked hard to bring more resources to my constituents. I
have helped thousands of people in my district with their problems
around housing, education etc. Also specifically through my work
supporting business I have helped many people all around the country.
And i hoped that my very presence in parliament encourage young
black people to think that their should be no limit to their aspirations.
6, 2002 6:48:14 PM)
what can be done to stop the 'swallowers'. Security measures.?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:48:14
The scanners at the airport should help. But also their should be
more security measures when people get off the plane at Gatwick
6, 2002 6:50:44 PM)
Did you get my message about the state of race relations in Britain?
Is it becoming a more inclusive, less racist society in your honest
opinion? We left Britain in 1988 (sorry I lost connection for a
while) but would love to get your views...
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:50:44
I believe that Britain is gradually becoming a less racists society.
Young British people general are more international and more multi-cultural
than their parents. But there is still seriously discrimination
in Britain particularly when it comes to the police and around employment.
6, 2002 6:51:24 PM)
And how many mules are we talking about?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:51:24
My understanding is there about twenty mules on every flight. Both
British Airways and Air Jamaica.
6, 2002 6:51:58 PM)
What are your prospects of getting a Ministerial position?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:51:58
That is up to Tony Blair.
6, 2002 6:54:03 PM)
In Brixton there is a new rule about small quantities of Ganja?
What exactly is the rule and how well is it working and going over
with the citizens?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:54:03
In Brixton they have a policy of not prosecuting people found with
small quantities of ganja for personal use. It is an experiment
and quite controversial. Many people in Brixton seem to support
it. But others believe that it is bringing drug dealers into the
6, 2002 6:54:46 PM)
What's the secret of your success? How do you overcome the odds?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:54:46
I come from Smithville in Clarendon. The best village in the best
parish in the best country in the world.
6, 2002 6:55:10 PM)
What's your future in politics?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:55:10
I hope to continue to serve the people.
6, 2002 6:55:42 PM)
Why is it when a plane arrive in the UK from JA, why do people have
to go thru so much?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:55:42
Because of the drug issue.
6, 2002 6:56:01 PM)
Do you think the break down of the family structure especially lack
of fathers is a big cause of society's problem to day?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:56:01
Question (Jun 6, 2002 6:58:32
What ARE the aspirations of young black people? I hope they are
not being limited into thinking that they can only become an entertainer
or a sportsman/woman! Are they getting the opportunities that young
white Britons get, and how are they doing educationally?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:58:32
Young black boys are not doing as well educationally as they should.
When black children come into the education system at age 5 they
are doing as well as if not better than white and Asian children.
But by age 11 a gap in achievement appears between them and white
children. And by age 16 many black boys have fallen behind educationally.
But despite these average figures there are many high achieving
young black people.
Question (Jun 6, 2002 6:59:24
Personal Question now: I notice you are not married any plans to
do so in the near future...?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 6:59:24
I was married. I am divorced. My marital prospects are in the hands
6, 2002 7:00:47 PM)
So the British press was out to get Air Jamaica then?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 7:00:47
I thought that recent reports were biased.
6, 2002 7:03:37 PM)
How is your constituency of Hackney? Is it becoming more prosperous
and how are ethnic minorities faring in the constituency - is there
a high crime rate?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 7:03:37
Hackney is a very vibrant community with a large black community.
House prices have shot up in recent years as more middle class people
moved in. And there are large number of black business people. But
there are still a high level of unemployment and we have a serious
problem with gun crime connected to crack cocaine trade.
6, 2002 7:04:02 PM)
hi Diane, when did u first think u want to be in the house of parliament?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 7:04:03
From when I was a child.
6, 2002 7:04:53 PM)
How do you reduced the incidence of single parent home which leaves
especially the young men without good role models?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 7:04:53
I think we have to teach our young people to be more responsible.
6, 2002 7:08:13 PM)
Diane , there is a lot of speculation about immigration policies
as it relates to Jamaicans because of drug mules. What percentage
of drug trafficking to Briton involves Jamaicans?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 7:08:13
Sadly there is no doubt that Jamaican are involved in drug trafficking
to Britain. But if you look at the drug trade as a whole including
heroin and drugs like ecstasy we are not the only perpetrators and
we certainly not the main ones.
6, 2002 7:09:05 PM)
There has been a steady increase in support for extreme right-wing
parties in some European countries, and a rise in anti-immigrant
feeling. Do you think that this is happening in Britain too, and
what can be done to counter this (I hear they are building 15 camps
for asylum seekers)?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 7:09:05
There is a rise in anti-immigrant feeling. I campaigned against
6, 2002 7:09:55 PM)
What is your feeling on other harmful drugs e.g Alcohol and Tobacco?
are you in the anti-tobacco lobby?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 7:09:55
I do not smoke and I am in favour of further restriction on the
sale and use of tobacco.
6, 2002 7:11:53 PM)
I don't recall a high level of gun and drug-related crime in Hackney
when we were living there, more muggings and burglary. But....what
do you think about this type of crime being automatically labeled
"yardie" or "yardie-style" crime in the British
press? Isn't this stereotyping and basically racist, pinning such
crimes on a particular ethnic/national group? Or do you hear about
"Asian-type" or "Jewish-type" crimes too (I
think not)? In other words, are Jamaicans in Britain automatically
associated with violent crime?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 7:11:53
There is a very high level of gun crime Hackney currently. It has
emerged in the last 10 years. Sadly many of the shootings that happened
in London are carried out by black people connected with drug trade.
6, 2002 7:12:26 PM)
Which Online newspaper do you read to keep up with Jamaican news?
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 7:12:26
Go-Jamaica of course.
Question (Jun 6, 2002 7:13:19
what is the economic system in london like? are ordinary people
Diane Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 7:13:20
London is a city of great opportunity. I particularly keen to encourage
black people to go into business.
Abbott (Jun 6, 2002 7:15:23
Thank you all for your very interesting questions. My sincere sympathy
goes out to all of you that have suffered in the recent flood rains.
I have enjoyed my holiday as always. And I remain a big supporter
of Jamaica which I believe is one of the most beautiful countries
in the world - as it has the most vibrant and talented people.