A waitress, aged 17 or 18 I guess, was doing the rounds with Chinese canapes in a silver dish. She arrived at Abbott's elbow. "What's that?" the MP demanded in peremptory fashion, pointing at something. The young woman told her, very politely. "And that?" She went through the lot — spring rolls, wontons, prawns toast, mini-dumplings, everything. Then without a word of thanks, she put a hand on to the dish, scooped up around a quarter of the nibbles, crammed them into her mouth and turned away.
Abbott's dad was a welder, her mum a nurse, both first-generation immigrants. I wonder what they'd have made of behaviour like that.
Of course, Hoggart may be exaggerating. But from everything I hear about Abbott it rings true. She's a poser and a brittle gossip, the sort of person you'd enjoy meeting at a party (as long you weren't staff) but would never trust with a confidence. Perhaps she's got a thing for the upper classes - judging from these stories she seems to have adopted the worst of their manners. Her choice in friends is interesting: Jonathan Aitken is godfather to her son. It's unfortunate that Abbott - a passionate opponent of sexism, the Iraq war, and the Trident missile programme - should have chosen as mentor to her child an aristocratic former arms dealer who procured prostitutes as well as weapons for his clients.
Abbott's campaign for Labour leader is devoid of content, save for a few platitudes designed to pander to the unthinking left. I doubt she'll work hard enough to make even those go far. That's fine with me; I want her back on the This Week sofa, where she's in her mischievous, shallow element.
It must be said, however, that Diane Abbott does bring social diversity to the election. None of the other candidates are nearly as posh.