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Diane Abbott: My Splendid Afro Has Gone And So Have My Views On The IRA

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Diane Abbott today claimed she had changed her views on the IRA in the same way she had changed her hairstyle.

The Shadow Home Secretary was quizzed on comments she made in 1984 at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, when she argued “every defeat of the British state is a victory for all of us.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning, Abbott did not apologise for the remarks, instead insisting that she had “moved on” from those views.

She said: “It was 34 years ago, I had a rather splendid afro at the time, I don’t have the same hairstyle and I don’t have the same views.

“It is 34 years on. The hairstyle has gone, and some of the views have gone.”

When asked by Marr if she had any “regret” over the comments, which appeared to support the IRA’s armed struggle against the UK, Abbott replied: “The hairstyle has gone, the views have gone.

“We’ve all moved on in 34 years.”

PA ARCHIVE/PA IMAGES
Diane Abbott with her “splendid afro” in 1986

Appearing on the same programme, Conservative Home Secretary Amber Rudd criticised her opposite number.

She said: “What I would say to Diane Abbott is: I’ve changed my hairstyle a few times in 34 years as well but I’ve not changed my view about how we keep the British public safe.”

On Peston on Sunday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was asked about Abbott’s equating of changing her views of the IRA with changing her hairstyle.

He replied: “Diane’s hairstyle is a matter for Diane.

“We learnt, all of us, a lot from the whole experience of Northern Ireland.”

Corbyn, Abbott and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have all come under scrutiny in the last week for past comments on the Troubles.

In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil on Friday, Corbyn insisted he had never met with anyone from the IRA.

On Peston this morning, Corbyn was asked if he had met “former convicted IRA terrorists”.

He replied: “Indeed I’ve met former prisoners who told me they were not in the IRA, but I have met former prisoners with my eyes open.”