UK’s First Black Woman MP Diane Abbott Barred From Labour Candidacy Ahead Of July Election

New Delhi: Diane Abbott, Britain’s first Black woman lawmaker, announced on Wednesday that she has been barred from running as a Labour candidate in the July 4 election. Abbott, who was suspended over a year ago for comments about Jews and racism, has served as a Labour MP since her election in 1987.

As the longest-serving Black MP in the country, she has championed issues such as racism, poverty, and international affairs in her north-east London district, reported Reuters.

Abbott was a close ally of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, under whose leadership the party was accused by the equalities watchdog of unlawful harassment and discrimination against Jews.

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He was replaced by Keir Starmer, who is currently leading in the polls to become Britain’s next prime minister. Starmer has focused on addressing allegations of antisemitism and has taken steps to remove some of the party’s left-wing members.

“Although the whip has been restored, I am banned from standing as a Labour candidate,” Abbott told the BBC, referring to the process where she was reinstalled as a Labour member of parliament following her suspension.

Abbott was suspended last year after writing a letter to the Observer newspaper in which she stated that the prejudice faced by Jewish people was similar to, but not the same as, racism.

“They undoubtedly experience prejudice. This is similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable,” she wrote in the letter.

“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.”

Keir Starmer Denies Allegation

Labour leader Keir Starmer has denied Diane Abbott has been barred from standing for the party, reported BBC,

Sir Keir said the ex-shadow home secretary’s suspension from the party had been lifted but no decision had been taken on whether she could be a Labour candidate at the election.

Abbott apologised “unreservedly” but was suspended from the party. Similarly, Corbyn was barred from running as a Labour candidate after claiming that antisemitism within the party had been “dramatically overstated” for political reasons, he has since decided to run as an independent candidate.

The equalities watchdog launched an investigation into Labour in 2019, uncovering serious failings in how the party handled antisemitism.

Supporters of Abbott and some opposition lawmakers criticised the party’s treatment of her after the Times newspaper reported on Tuesday that she would be prevented from running as a Labour candidate.

Jacqueline McKenzie, a human rights lawyer and friend of Abbott, told BBC Radio that Abbott deserved “greater respect and greater dignity than to have these leaks.”

“We have seen other MPs say terrible things and have the whip restored and be allowed to stand. Why is Diane being treated differently? It also has some implications for the wider African Caribbean community … people are extremely concerned.”

Throughout her tenure in parliament, Abbott has endured significant levels of online racist and sexist abuse. In March, a Conservative Party donor issued an apology for comments made in 2019, where he expressed a desire to hate all Black women upon seeing Abbott, stating she “should be shot.”

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