Diane Abbott claims she’s been banned from standing as a Labour candidate in the general election

The veteran MP won't be a Labour candidate in the election

Diane Abbott

UPDATE: This article was updated at 12:35 on 29 May 2024 to reflect Keir Starmer saying no decision had been taken to bar Diane Abbott from standing in the general election.

Veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott has confirmed to the BBC that she has been banned from standing as a Labour candidate in the 2024 general election.

Abbott has been sitting as an independent MP since April 2023 after she had the whip removed following a letter published under her name in the Observer which implied that Jews, Irish people and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people do not experience racism.

On Tuesday 28 May, Abbott had the Labour whip restored, but has now said that she won’t be allowed to stand for Labour in the general election on July 4.

Abbott told the BBC’s Today programme: “Although the whip has been restored, I am banned from standing as a Labour candidate.”

The news follows days of speculation about Abbott’s future in the Labour Party. Revelations from BBC Newsnight showed that the investigation into Abbott’s comments had concluded in December 2023, but she did not have the whip restored until yesterday.

The letter that led to Abbott’s suspension said of Jews, Irish people and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people: “They undoubtedly experience prejudice. This is similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable.

“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.”

Abbott immediately apologised following the publication of the letter, saying: “I wish to wholly and unreservedly withdraw my remarks and disassociated myself from them.

“The errors arose in an initial draft being sent. But there is no excuse and I wish to apologise for any anguish caused.

“Racism takes many forms, and it is completely undeniable that Jewish people have suffered its monstrous effects, as have Irish people, Travellers and many others.”

It is not yet clear whether Abbott will now contest the election in her constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington as an independent. The former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – one of Abbott’s political allies in the Labour Party – will be standing as an independent in Islington North after he too was blocked from standing as a Labour candidate.

However, she has since tweeted to say that she will be ‘campaigning for a Labour victory’ in the general election. She said: “Naturally I am delighted to have the Labour Whip restored and to be a member of the PLP. Thank you to all those who supported me along the way. I will be campaigning for a Labour victory. But I am very dismayed that numerous reports suggest I have been barred as a candidate.”

The Labour leader Keir Starmer has denied that Abbott has been prevented from standing for Labour at the next election. He told reporters today that “no decision has been taken” to block Abbott’s candidacy.

Abbott was the first black woman elected to the House of Commons and is the UK’s longest standing black MP. She was shadow home secretary during Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Image credit: UK Parliament – Creative Commons

Comments are closed.