Labour MP Diane Abbott has given what one listener described as an "absolute car crash" of an interview on LBC radio this morning.
The shadow home secretary appeared on Nick Ferrari's LBC morning programme to discuss putting a number of new police officers on the streets.
But she came unstuck when Ferrari pushed her on exactly how much the proposal would cost, how many officers would be hired, what they would paid, and where the money would come from.
Which was a bit...uncomfortable.
Initially, Abbott said Labour planned to recruit 10,000 officers and costed the proposal at £300,000 – a figure incredulously picked up by Ferrari.
"£300,000 for 10,000 police officers? What are you paying them?" He asked.
She backpedaled, telling listeners: "They will cost...they will, it will cost, erm, about... about £80 million."
Abbott continued digging the increasingly cavernous hole she was in, defending the £80 million figure by saying Labour would not be hiring 10,000 officers after all, but 25,000. Ferrari, however, continued to press her on the original 10,000 figure:
Nick Ferrari: But I don't understand, if you divide £80 million by 10,000, you get 8,000. Is that what you're going to pay these policemen and women?
Diane Abbott: No, we're talking about, erm, a process over four years.
Nick Ferrari: I don't understand... £80 million divided by 10,000 equals 8,000. What are these police officers going to be paid?
Diane Abbott: We will be paying them the average...
Nick Ferrari: Has this been thought through?
Diane Abbott: Of course it's been thought through.
Nick Ferrari: Where are the figures?
Diane Abbott: The figures are that the additional costs in year one when we anticipate recruiting about 250,000 policemen will be £64.3million.
Nick Ferrari: 250,000 policemen?
Diane Abbott: And women.
Nick Ferrari: So you're getting more than 10,000? You're recruiting 250,000?
Diane Abbott: No, we are recruiting 2,000 and perhaps 250.
Nick Ferrari: So where did 250,000 come from?
Diane Abbott: I think you said that, not me.
Right, if you're still with us, at this point Abbott said Labour intend to hire 10,000 officers, then 250,000 officers, or maybe 2,000 or 250. WHO KNOWS. These hires would be covered by reversing capital gains tax, she said, releasing a pool of money – some of which has already been allocated towards education and health.
The shadow home secretary's interview comes at a disastrous time for policing in the UK. In March Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said British policing was in a “potentially perilous state” and that it had uncovered a range of “dangerous” and “disturbing” practices, leading to investigations being shelved and vulnerable victims let down.
It follows Labour claims in February that the Conservatives had slipped out of a promise to protect police funding, instead slashing budgets by nearly £100 million.
Responding to the chaos, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn backed his shadow home secretary, telling the BBC he "wasn't embarrassed" by the interview.
Many people felt otherwise.
And questioned why the shadow home secretary was so woefully under-prepared.
Later, appearing on the BBC's Daily Politics show, Abbott said she "misspoke" during her seventh interview that morning and "did know my figures". However, she refused to detail the exact spending for Labour's proposal and instead roundly attacked the media's coverage.
"I am concerned you don’t want to talk about policing,” she said, “and instead you want to go over and over the Nick Ferrari interview.”
Pushed again to detail the funding, Abbott said that details would be published in the Labour manifesto, and reiterated that the extra officers would be paid for by reversing capital gains tax to "what it had been".
Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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