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Diane Abbott Given Whip Back After Labour Front Benchers "Spitting Venom" Over Her Treatment

Diane Abbott in April 2024 (Credit: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Live News)

2 min read

The decision to restore the Labour whip to Diane Abbott came after a number of front benchers were "spitting venom" over their party leadership's treatment of her, PoliticsHome understands.

Abbott had the Labour whip withdrawn in April 2023 after she wrote that Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers do not experience racism "all their lives" in the same way Black people do. She subsequently withdrew her comments and apologised.

The BBC reported on Tuesday that the Labour inquiry into her comments was completed in December 2023, when she was issued with a formal warning. She also completed an antisemitism awareness course in early 2024, according the report.

Later today, The Times reported that Abbott will not be allowed to stand for Labour at the July 4 general election, likely ending her 37-year career in Parliament. PoliticsHome understands the whip was restored to the veteran MP earlier today. It is possible that Abbott decides to stand down in return.

A Labour front bencher said the process undertaken by the party towards Abbott had seen her treated poorly and "double standards" applied.

"This doesn’t surprise BAME MPs at all because every important decision in the party is currently being made by white men," they told PoliticsHome.

"They’ve shown complete disregard for the Black community. Diane is a red line for a lot of Black people. The fact it’s a bunch of white men making these decisions demonstrates they don’t realise it’s a red line."

The front bencher went on to describe the decision not to allow Abbott to be a Labour candidate at the upcoming election as "very upsetting" and "a slap in the face".

They added: "Diane is the reason a lot of us got into politics. Why is Keir Starmer pissing off an important caucus?"

Several Labour MPs who are angry about the way Abbott's case has been handled by the party have suggested that the Hackney North MP – the first Black woman to become an MP, first elected in 1987 – should get a peerage. 

It is widely expected that a number of other Labour MPs who have announced their retirement heading into the summer election will be offered a place in the Lords if Starmer gets into power, which opinion polls currently suggest is the likely outcome.

PoliticsHome has contacted the Labour Party.

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