Sir Keir Starmer announced this week that the ‘Labour Party has changed’, following the condemnation of Diane Abbott’s anti-Semitic comments, written in a letter to The Observer. Abbott has been suspended from the party for insinuating that Jewish, Irish, and Traveller individuals could not be susceptible to racism throughout the course of their lives. Abbott has since apologised for the letter, stating that ‘errors’ had arisen after an initial draft had been sent.
In the letter which led to her suspension, Aboott acknowledged the effect of racism on the lives of Irish, Jewish and Traveller individuals, stating that they all ‘undoubtedly experience racism’ but later arguing that they are not ‘all their lives subject to racism’. She went on to compare the racism endured by such groups to the treatment of Black African Americans in the Civil Rights era. Abbott’s letter which alludes to an oppression Olympics was originally written as a response to a comment piece in the Guardian where the view that racism ‘only affects people of colour’ was being questioned and up for debate. Furthermore, she commented ‘at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships, even noting that redheads can experience prejudice.
Abbott’s suspension means that she will not be able to represent Labour in the House of Commons, now simply residing as an independent MP. Alongside being suspended, Abbott has been condemned by the Board of Deputies of British Jews which branded her comments ‘disgraceful’. Abbott received mass backlash on social media, where users pushed for Abbott’s complete removal from the Labour Party, triggering Sir Keir Starmer to rethink Abbott’s position within the party.
Diane Abbott isn’t the first labour party leader to have been caught up in a row over antisemitism, it was only in 2020 that previous leader Jeremy Corbyn also underwent a suspension from the party due to The Equality of Human Rights Commission finding the party responsible for three breaches of the equality act. These breaches included political interference in anti-Semitism complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism and harassment through the use of anti-Semitic tropes. Corbyn was shortly later suspended by the Labour general secretary David Evans.
Edited By Aminat Akintobi
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