Britain's Pioneering Black Lawmaker Diane Abbott Faces Election Ban Controversy

Diane Abbott, the first Black woman elected to the UK Parliament, faces a potential ban from running in the next election over comments on Jews and racism. Suspended last year, she has apologized for her remarks. Labour's shift under Keir Starmer may further alienate left-wing and Black voters.

Reuters | Updated: 29-05-2024 17:43 IST | Created: 29-05-2024 17:43 IST
Britain's Pioneering Black Lawmaker Diane Abbott Faces Election Ban Controversy
Diane Abbott

Britain's first Black woman lawmaker, Diane Abbott, said on Wednesday she was dismayed the opposition Labour Party looked set to bar her as an election candidate over comments she made over a year ago about Jews and racism. Abbott, 70, is Britain's longest serving Black member of parliament. First elected in 1987, she is a leading figure on Labour's left wing and has campaigned on such issues as racism, poverty and international affairs.

Abbott was suspended by Labour last year after saying Jews did not face racism all their lives. She said she had been reinstated but the Times newspaper said she would be barred from running in her northeast London district in Britain's parliamentary election on July 4. "I am very dismayed that numerous reports suggest I have been barred as a candidate," Abbott, who blazed a trail for other Black women politicians, said on X.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said no final decision had been taken on whether she could be an election candidate. Starmer has sought to purge Labour of some left-wing members and to tackle any allegations of antisemitism after Britain's equalities watchdog accused Labour of discrimination against Jews under his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

Abbott was a close ally of Corbyn, who led the party from 2015 to 2020 and has also been barred from running for Labour. He will stand as an independent candidate. Labour, which leads in opinion polls, has moved to the centre under Starmer, alienating some left-leaning voters. Barring Abbott could also anger some Black voters who, according to polls, traditionally vote for Labour.

Abbott, who has received online racist and sexist abuse, was suspended last year over a letter to a newspaper about Jewish people and racism. "They undoubtedly experience prejudice. This is similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable," she wrote.

"It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice." "But they are not all their lives subject to racism."

She apologised "unreservedly" at the time.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Give Feedback