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Sun, 24 January 2021

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By Alice Lilly
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Diane Abbott takes aim at ‘vicious’ Tories as she reveals election struggle with type 2 diabetes

Diane Abbott takes aim at ‘vicious’ Tories as she reveals election struggle with type 2 diabetes
3 min read

Diane Abbott has spoken of how her type 2 diabetes went “out of control” during the election campaign and forced her to take a break from frontline politics.


In her first interview since stepping back from the campaign due to illness Ms Abbott said she was managing her condition, which she revealed she was diagnosed with two years ago, and is ready to return to work.

She was temporarily replaced as Shadow Home Secretary by Lyn Brown following a bruising interview on Sky News over details of a security report.

Ms Abbott, who was subject to ridicule for some of her media appearances in the run up to 8 June, also accused the Tories of undertaking the most vicious and negative campaign she had ever experienced.

Speaking to the Guardian, she said: “During the election campaign, everything went crazy – and the diabetes was out of control, the blood sugar was out of control.”

After her brother listened to her interviews, including her grilling on LBC radio over police numbers, he got in touch with Ms Abbott expressing concern, she told the paper.

“He said ‘that is not Diane’, because ever since I’ve been a child I’ve had a great memory for figures, and he said he knew it was my blood sugar and gave me a lecture about eating and having glucose tablets.”

She added: “It is a condition you can manage. I am doing that now and I feel ready to get back to work.” 

Ms Abbott also turned her sights on the Tory campaign strategy lodged against her, claiming that she was clearly part of Australian strategist Lynton Crosby's "grid".

“The first time I became aware that I was a target of a national campaign was when people in marginals in the north were WhatsApping me to say there were ad vans talking about me, with a picture of me and Jeremy on,” she said.

“Then there were these targeted Facebook ads. There was one which was a mashup ad which made it sound as if I supported al-Qaida. We did contemplate taking legal action…

“It was literally fake news.”

She said “yes” when asked if it was the most vicious election campaign she had ever experienced, adding: “The Tories need to explain why they singled me out. It felt terrible, it felt awful – you felt you were in a kind of vortex – as I became aware of what was happening – the Facebook ads, the Tories name-dropping me for no reason.”

A Tory source told the Guardian: “Was her response to ‘vicious’ campaigning also in response to whether Labour were vicious? Or did that not get asked? As the prime minister said, we wish her well with her health; no one knows more about the difficulties of diabetes than the prime minister.”

The source added: "It was legitimate in a campaign to point out weaknesses in the opposition’s front bench.

“Was her performance in the campaign a result of ill health? Not for me to speculate. Is her voting record legitimate grounds for discussion? Of course it is.”

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