Diane Abbott stumbles over the cost of Labour’s police pledge
The Conservatives seized on the shadow home secretary's 'morning of chaos'.
Labour will today promise to put an extra 10,000 police officers on the beat in a bid to combat “worrying rises” in violent crime.
Police numbers have been cut by 20,000 since 2010, according to Labour. Jeremy Corbyn will pledge “to tackle crime for the many not the few” on a visit to Southampton, by promising at least the equivalent of one more officer per electoral ward in England and Wales. The Labour leader will say the officers will serve in community policing roles and will be funded by reversing cuts to Capital Gains Tax.
But how much will it cost?
As she appeared on LBC, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott initially suggested the cost to the public purse would be only £300,000. She then revised the figure to "about £80 million".
LBC presenter Nick Ferrari responded by pointing out that "80 million divided by 10,000 equals 8,000" and asking: "What are these police officers going to be paid?"
Abbott insisted the plan was fully-costed and fully-thought-through. But commentators were not convinced with one journalist saying that Abbott had experienced a Natalie Bennett-esque "brainfade" and one former Labour special adviser suggesting that the shadow home secretary must be a Tory secret agent…
As she appeared on the BBC's Daily Politics show later, Abbott was told that her performance was "embarrassing" and accused of having "completely fluffed the figures".
She admitted that she "misspoke", but went on to insist: "People that listened to any of the interviews I gave this morning – with the exception of the LBC interview – will know that I do know the figures."
The Conservatives also pounced on the shadow home secretary's Tuesday morning interview round, calling it Abbott's "morning of chaos" in an email sent to lobby journalists. A Tory spokesman described the performance on LBC "excruciating" while also seizing on Abbott's appearances on Good Morning Britain and Sky News.
Home secretary Amber Rudd said: "One of Corbyn’s closest allies has clearly shown that Labour’s sums don’t add up, they would weaken our defences, and their nonsensical promises aren’t worth the paper they are printed on."
It comes as Abbott was due to say today that Theresa May "failed to protect communities as home secretary and has continued to fail them as prime minister".