How Mo Farah rejected the "plastic Brit" charge

"Look, mate, this is my country". Was the Daily Mail listening?

Before the opening of the Olympics, the Daily Mail ran a series of stories on those athletes it called "plastic Brits". By this ugly term, it referred to those in the British team who were born overseas and later acquired citizenship. Under the guise of reporting a "controversy" (controversial to no one but itself), the paper complained that "11 per cent of the 542-strong squad were born abroad." Thus, as Sunder Katwala noted previously, competitors such as Mo Farah (born in Somalia) and Bradley Wiggins (born in Belgium) were, according to the Mail's definition, "plastic Brits".

Now many of those same Brits have triumphed, my guess is that the Mail will quietly forget that it once disparaged them as "plastic". It may even use this moment to celebrate the successful multiethnic society it normally does so much to hinder (one witnesses a similar volte-face when overt racists such as Nick Griffin, whose party swims in the swamp of hatred created by the right-wing press, appear on Question Time or other public platforms and are noisily denounced by the Mail and the Daily Express).

Should anyone revive the "plastic Brit" charge, however, here is how Mo Farah, his voice denoting impatience, responded last night when asked by one journalist if he would have preferred to run as a Somali.

Look mate, this is my country.

This is where I grew up, this is where I started life. This is my country and when I put on my Great Britain vest I'm proud. I'm very proud.

Was the Mail listening?

Mohamed Farah of Great Britain celebrates winning gold in the Men's 10,000m final. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Diane Abbott tweeting the fake lesbian quote won’t detract from Theresa May’s gay rights record

The shadow home secretary tweeted a quote about lesbians which can’t be traced to the Prime Minister.

Diane Abbott has deleted her tweet of a quote that’s been whizzing around Twitter, supposedly attributed to Theresa May.

The meme suggests that the Prime Minister, when a councillor in Merton and Wimbledon in the Eighties, once said: “Curbing the promotion of lesbianism in Merton’s schools starts with girls having male role models in their lives.”


Twitter screengrab

But there is no evidence available to prove that May ever said this. The quotation was investigated by Gay Star News and BuzzFeed when it started being shared ahead of the election. Just like Dan Hannan's pictures from his country walk and erm, pretty much every pro-Leave politician suggesting the NHS would get £350m extra a week after Brexit, Abbott’s tweet was a bad idea. It’s good she deleted it.

However, this doesn’t take away from Theresa May’s poor track record on gay rights, which has been collated by PinkNews and others:

1998: She voted against reducing the age of consent for gay sex.

1999: She voted against equalising the age of consent, again.

2000: She voted against repealing Section 28, and Vice has uncovered an interview she did in her forties with a student paper when she said “most parents want the comfort of knowing Section 28 is there”, referring to the legislation stopping “the promotion of homosexuality in schools”.

2000: She did not show up to another vote on making the age of consent for gay people equal to the one for straight people.

2001: She voted against same-sex adoption.

2002: She voted against same-sex adoption, again.

2003: She did not vote on repealing Section 28.

2004: She missed all four votes on the gender recognition bill. (But she did vote in favour of civil partnerships this year).

2007: She missed a vote on protecting gay people from discrimination (the part of the Equality Act that would prevent b&bs and wedding cake makers discriminating against gay people, for example).

2008: She opposed IVF for same-sex couples, voting in favour of a child needing a “father and mother” before allowing a woman to have IVF treatment.

Since then, May has softened her stance on gay rights, apologised for her past voting record, and voted in favour of same-sex marriage. “I have changed my view. If those votes were taken today, I would take a different vote,” she said.

But your mole can think of at least one politician who’s always been on the right side of history regarding gay rights. Diane Abbott.

I'm a mole, innit.