The view from Britain

The British general election will be held tomorrow. In search of comic relief from the domestic political scene, I have turned to the Daily Mail’s account of shadow Labour home secretary Diane Abbott’s latest “car-crash” interview (video below).

Having returned from her public absence following an earlier “car crash” interview last month, as well as a follow-up “car crash” interview about the “car crash” interview, Ms. Abbott gave an interview in which she seemed utterly clueless about Lord Harris’s report on improving the response to terror in London, despite claiming she had read it (here I’m borrowing from the summary posted with the YouTube clip above).

Following Ms. Abbott’s performance in the interview yesterday, Labour candidate for Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn “said his counter-terrorism chief was ‘unwell’ and would be temporarily replaced by Lyn Brown – a little-known politician who previously quit his frontbench complaining that his leadership was ‘untenable.'” The Daily Mail adds: “Senior Labour figures said Ms Abbott had been ‘diagnosed with a serious, long-term condition.’ She tweeted this afternoon to thank supporters, saying she would ‘rejoin the fray soon.'”

The Daily Mail helpfully explained that Ms. Abbott had struggled with questions posed by Sky News interviewer Dermot Murnaghan (“a long-standing ally of Mr Corbyn and one of his few cheerleaders in the parliamentary party”) as she “left long pauses and struggled to give answers about the content of the Harris report.”

What happened next? The Daily Mail reports:

In the wake of the meltdown, she pulled out of appearances on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour with just half-an-hour’s notice.

The close Corbyn ally seemed to have made it to within striking distance of the BBC studios, however – with a photograph posted on Twitter showing her apparently on her phone at Oxford Circus Tube station at 8.40am.

As noted above, Labour depicts Ms. Abbott’s condition as dire: “Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner told LBC radio: ‘I have been told that Diane has been diagnosed with a serious, long-term condition.'” I’m guessing that the condition is probably incurable.

One has to read deeply into into the story for the hilarious coda:

Ms Abbott came under fire yet again last night after being fooled by a prankster pretending to be a top party adviser in an email hoax.

She replied to a chain of emails that she thought were from party spin doctor Seumas Milne following her withdrawal from Woman’s Hour.

But they were actually sent from a fake account set up by a joker in a bid to prank the politician.

* * * * *

Hoax artist @SINON_REBORN has previously tricked Bank of England governor Mark Carney and Barclays boss Jes Staley.

The 38-year-old prankster from Manchester posted screenshots of Abbott’s replies – which appear to have been sent from her personal account.

In the emails the politician revealed private details about her health and said she was hesitant to tell “untruths” about it in the press.

The hoaxer told Abbott he had spoken to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the pair think she should “add some colour” to the illness which prevented her from taking part in the radio debate with Amber Rudd this morning.

He adds: “Flesh it out with some more detail if you will, perhaps also mention some medication which might be retrospectively seen as a mitigating reason for the Murnaghan interview.”

Abbott’s reply reads: “Do you still want to add colour to the illness story? If so maybe we should speak.”

Ms Abbott allegedly replied later: “I’m not sure what colour I can add. I have always enjoyed good health until the last few years. And diabetes, in itself, would not stop me doing Woman’s Hour. I am worried about telling untruths about my health which are easily disproved.”

Whole thing here.

Quotable quote (Prime Minister Theresa May): “I just wish Diane a speedy recovery.”

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