Diane Abbott has accused ITV of “carefully editing” an interview where the MP struggled to explain how Labour would fund thousands of new police officers as she hit out at “gotcha journalism” and claimed she has received death threat and abuse in the aftermath.
Speaking to the broadcaster, the Shadow Home Secretary attempted to explain Labour’s plan for 10,000 extra officers after figures were published showing crime rose by 10% in England and Wales in the last year, the largest annual rise in a decade.
Abbott was trying to outline how Labour would raise the £300 million needed to fund the policy, and it had echoes of a car-crash interview she gave before the election on the same policy.
“What we’ve said is that we would find the money to recruit the 10,000 police people by cutting, we would find the money because we’d look at capital gains tax. The Tories have cut capital gains tax and we want to restore it,” she said.
She then appeared to turn towards the interviewer for help, saying: “And that would give us, I think, 170 … how ... sorry. We would find the money by restoring levels of capital gains tax.
“We think that by restoring the cuts in capital gains tax that would find us another £300 million a year.”
However, the £300 million figure cited by Abbott is for a four-year recruitment period, rather than a single year. The clip is at the top of this story.
But Abbot later took to Twitter to hit out at ITV
“Today the Government released figures which reveal we’re seeing the biggest annual rise in crime for a decade. We also know that police numbers are at a 30-year low. This is news.
“ITV chose to carefully edit a piece of video showing me stumbling over some fugures and said that that was news. So for them, yes, Labour will recruit 10,000 extra police officers and we will pay for it by reversing the Tory cuts in capital gains tax.
“I hope you get some more viewers because all it has got me is hundreds of pieces of abuse including the usual death threat.”
During the election campaign, Abbott was discussing Labour’s pledge when she told LBC’s Nick Ferrari this would cost £300,000 over four years, prompting Ferrari to ask: “What are you paying them?”
Abbott said she meant to say it would cost around £80 million.
But Ferrari was still perplexed. He said: “If you divide £80 million by 10,000 you get £8,000. Is that what you are going to pay these police men and women? Has this been thought through?”
The Shadow Home Secretary insisted: “Of course it has been thought through.”
The figure was later corrected and Abbott told the BBC: “I do know my figures.”
She added she had “repeated them correctly in six other interviews”.
The MP was replaced as Shadow Home Secretary due to ill health after struggling in the interviews.
After the election campaign, Abbott revealed that she has Type 2 diabetes that was “out of control”, as she hit out at the “terrible” targeting of her by the Tories.
“The Tories need to explain why they singled me out. It felt terrible, it felt awful - you felt you were in a kind of vortex - as I became aware of what was happening - the Facebook ads, the Tories name-dropping me for no reason,” she said.