Diane Abbott sparks outcry after likening Tory migration policies to brutal expulsions by African tyrant Idi Amin who ‘ethnically cleansed’ half a million people from Uganda
- She claimed that Tory ministers were failing to treat migrants as humans
- Opponents blasted the comments from the keynote address – as ‘outrageous’
- She suggested the Conservative stance could lead to children held in ‘cages’
Diane Abbott sparked anger by linking the Government’s immigration policies to those of murderous African dictator Idi Amin.
The Shadow Home Secretary claimed Tory ministers were failing to treat migrants as humans – and drew comparison with the racist Ugandan tyrant who expelled all Asians from his country.
The Labour MP also suggested the Conservative stance could lead to children being detained in ‘cages’ like on the US-Mexican border.
Last night opponents blasted the comments – inserted at the last minute into a keynote address – as ‘outrageous’.
Diane Abbott has sparked anger by linking the Government’s immigration policies to those of murderous African dictator Idi Amin
Idi Amin, who died in exile in Saudi Arabia in August 2003 aged 78, ‘ethnically cleansed’ up to 500,000 people in mass executions
Idi Amin, who died in exile in Saudi Arabia in August 2003 aged 78, ‘ethnically cleansed’ up to 500,000 people in mass executions and tribal purges in eight bloody years in the 1970s.
In 1972, after stirring up hatred against the wealthy Indians who controlled Uganda’s economy, he gave them all a mere 90 days to leave the country.
Around 80,000 left in the mass expulsion, with a third of them coming to the UK as they already had British passports from when Uganda was a colony.
Miss Abbott made her remarks as she unveiled Labour’s proposals to scrap the Government’s immigration cap and let in unlimited numbers of overseas workers if there are UK skills shortages.
Condemning the Government’s treatment of scores of members of the Windrush generation, who were wrongly detained or booted out of Britain, she said: ‘How can this happen?
‘The most important factor is that official policy, ministerial rhetoric and media coverage fails to treat migrants as people.
African dictator who expelled Asian people
In August 1972, Idi Amin – the tyrannical president of Uganda – ordered the country’s Asian population to leave the country within 90 days.
The wealthy community of around 80,000 people, mainly Gujaratis from India, had assumed a dominant role in the economy under the British rule which ended a decade earlier.
Idi Amin (pictured) the tyrannical president of Uganda ordered the country’s Asian population to leave within 90 days
After Uganda became independent in 1962, resentment grew against the remaining Indian population.
Amin, pictured, stoked this hostility after taking dictatorial control in 1971, and a year later he expelled the entire Asian population for ‘sabotaging Uganda’s economy’. Around 27,000 fled as refugees to the UK, where they could settle as they still had British passports. The rest mainly moved to India, Canada and neighbouring Kenya. Some smuggled their jewellery out of the country, which they sold to buy businesses in their new lands. Amin was ousted in 1978, and lived the rest of his life in exile.
‘And this goes all the way back to the debate about East African Asians under Idi Amin, what we have always seen is the other-isation of migrants. And we’ve seen it, I’m sorry to say under Labour and Conservative Governments.’
Miss Abbott also risked a backlash with extraordinary comments linking British immigration rules to the detention of child migrants by US president Donald Trump.She pledged not to deport or exclude from the UK family members of migrants already living here and insisted she would scrap the minimum income threshold for Britons who want to bring in non-EU spouses and children.
She said: ‘I pledged to uphold the right to a family life. Some of you will have seen the TV pictures of Mexican children held in cages at the US-Mexican border.
‘That is where paying no attention to the family and people’s right to family union takes you and we are pledged to upholding the right to family values.’
Responding to her mentioning Idi Amin, Tory MP David Morris said: ‘This comparison is outrageous and frankly offensive to all the victims of that brutal regime.
‘Diane Abbott is either divorced from reality or shamelessly scaremongering. Either way, Labour cannot be taken seriously on immigration.’
Miss Abbott vowed that a Labour government would scrap ‘meaningless’ immigration caps and make it easier to enter Brexit Britain – prompting concerns of a fresh immigration free-for-all. Any foreign worker with ‘bona fide skills’ would be allowed to come and work in UK as long as no British national could do the job.
But Lord Green, chairman of the MigrationWatch think-tank, which campaigns for controlled migration, stressed that under Labour net migration had tripled from around 50,000 in 1997 to some 150,000 in 1999.
He said: ‘These proposals are incredible. Offering work visas to all who want to come here will spell the end of migration controls.’ Meanwhile Immigration Minister Caroline Noles said Labour’s new policy would ‘tear up the rules for people coming from outside the EU which would allow more low-skilled immigration’.
- Miss Abbott walked away when fellow Tube passenger Alex Rose, 18, asked why she said on Question Time that Orthodox Jews were targets of hate crime due to their ‘costumes’. Mr Rose, of Cockfosters, North London, filmed Miss Abbott as he asked: ‘The Jewish people – why did you tell us that we wear costumes?’ Footage shows her looking up from her phone and gave Mr Rose a quizzical stare before walking down the carriage.