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Diane Abbott: Read full transcript from excruciating '£80m police spending' radio interview

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott talked with LBC’s Nick Ferrari about Labour’s plan to recruit an additional 10,000 police officers, and it didn’t exactly go to plan.

In an at-times excruciating radio interview which has since been defended by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour MP struggled to clarify how the party plans to pay for the extra officers in what amounts to a very awkward exchange.

Read the full transcript below:

NF: Where will the money come from Diane Abbott? Good morning.

DA: The money will come from reversing some of the tax cuts for the rich that the Tories have pushed through. And the tax cut we’re specifically identifying to pay for the 10,000 policemen is the cut in capital gains tax.

NF: Policemen? So we can’t have policewomen then?

DA: Policemen and women.

NF: That’s alright, just checking. Strange it falls to me to correct you, Diane, but do carry on.

DA: Let’s talk about the real issues of crime which people are worried about. What people are worried about is the rise in violent crime. We’ve seen in the Met, for instance, gun crime go up by 42% and knife crime go up by 24% and we believe that more community policemen and women are part of the answer to this.

Diane Abbott radio interview
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott failed to grasp the numbers during an awkward radio interview.

NF: So how much would 10,000 police officers cost?

DA: Well, if we recruit the 10,000 policemen and women over a four-year period, we believe it will be about £300,000.

NF: £300,000 for 10,000 police officers? What are you paying them?

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DA: No, I mean, sorry…

NF: How much will they cost?

DA: They will cost, it will cost about, about £80 million.

NF: About £80 million? How do you get to that figure?

DA: We get to that figure because we anticipate recruiting 25,000 extra police officers a year at least over a period of four years. And we are looking at both what average police wages are generally but also specifically police wages in London.

NF: And this will be funded by reversing, in some instances, the cuts in capital gains tax. But I’m right in saying that since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the party, that money has also been promised to reverse spending cuts in education, spending cuts in arts, spending cuts in sports. The Conservatives say you’ve spent this money already, Diane Abbott.

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DA: Well the Conservatives would say that. We’ve not promised the money to any area, we’ve just pointed out that the cuts in capital gains tax will cost the taxpayer over £2 billion and there are better ways of spending that money. But as we roll out our manifesto process, we are specifically saying how we will fund specific proposals. And this morning I’m saying to you that we will fund the 10,000 extra police officers by using some – not all, but just some – of the £2 billion.

NF: And the £80 million is the figure we use?

DA: Yeah, yeah.

NF: But I don’t understand. If you divide £80 million by 10,000, you get £8,000. Is that what you are going to pay these policemen and women?

DA: No, we are talking about a process over four years.

NF: I don’t understand. What is he or she going to get? Eighty million divided by 10,000 equals 8,000. What are these police officers going to be paid?

DA: We will be paying them the average…

NF: Has this been thought through?

DA: Of course it’s been thought through.

NF: Where are the figures?

DA: The figures are that the additional cost in year one, when we anticipate recruiting about 250,000 policemen, will be £64.3 million.

NF: 250,000 policemen?

DA: And women.

NF: So you are getting more than 10,000. You’re recruiting 250,000?

DA: No, we are recruiting two thousand and – perhaps – two hundred and fifty.

NF: So where did 250,000 come from?

DA: I think you said that, not me.

NF: I can assure you you said that, because I wrote it down.

DA: What I am saying about the cost is that in year one, obviously, we are getting ready to recruit. But in year two, the cost will be £64.3 million. In year three, the cost will be £139.1 million. Year four the cost will be £217 million. And year five, the cost will be £298 million. And that can be amply covered by reversing the cuts in capital gains tax.