05/01/2012 04:12 GMT | Updated 06/01/2012 11:11 GMT

Diane Abbott Faces Calls To Resign For 'Racist' Tweet About 'White People'

Diane Abbott has been accused of racism and faces calls to resign from the Labour frontbench after claiming white people love playing "divide and rule".

In a controversial message to a freelance journalist on the social networking site Twitter, Abbott wrote: "White people love playing 'divide and rule' we should not play their game."

The Hackney MP used a hashtag which spelt "tactics as old as colonialism."

When asked for a comment in response, Abbott told Huffington Post UK: "I'm going to have to get back to you on that."

She later wrote her tweet had been "taken out of context" and apologised for any offense caused.

Confronted about the comments by Sky News, Abbott walked away to take a phone call.

Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi has called for Abbott to quit her front bench job as shadow public health minister, or for her to be sacked by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Former Tory MP and commentator Paul Goodman has also called for her to quit saying her comments were "racist" and "even the most clear-cut apology won't do."

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has said Abbott should "apologise and explain herself", calling the comments "stupid and crass".

A Labour spokesperson said: “We disagree with Diane’s tweet. It is wrong to make sweeping generalisations about any race, creed, or culture. The Labour Party has always campaigned against such behaviour – and so has Diane Abbott.”

VOTE: Diane Abbott is the victim of Twitter overreacting. Agree?

Separately Abbott has written for the Huffington Post UK this morning saying that racism is still a problem for young black men.

Sadly the demonisation of young black men by the police and the wider society continues to this day. Senior policeman now may 'talk the talk' on diversity and racial justice.

Abbott's tweet had been in reply to a comment by freelance journalist Bim Adewunmimedia about coverage of "the black community" in the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence trial.

Abbott has been the MP for Hackney North for 25 years. In 2010, she ran for the Labour leadership. Ed Miliband appointed her to the frontbench in October 2010.