30 November 2023 7:56 PM
Diane Abbott, who has now been stripped of the Labour whip, sparked a furious backlash with her suggestion Jewish people don't suffer 'racism'

Veteran MP Diane Abbott was this morning stripped of the Labour whip amid a backlash at her ‘shameful’ suggestion that Jewish people don’t suffer racism.

The former shadow home secretary has been suspended as a Labour MP by the party’s chief whip Alan Campbell while an investigation is carried out.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had faced called calls to take action against Ms Abbott following her comments in a Sunday newspaper. 

The 69-year-old, who has been an MP for more than 35 years, suggested that Jewish, Irish and Traveller people experience ‘prejudice’ but ‘are not all their lives subject to racism’.

Amid the fury at her comments, Cabinet minister Grant Shapps accused Ms Abbott, a close ally of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, of ‘spouting hateful anti-Semitism’.

She later issued a statement to ‘wholly and unreservedly withdraw my remarks and disassociate myself from them’ as she blamed drafting ‘errors’.

But Labour pushed ahead with action against the ex-shadow minister.

A spokesperson said: ‘The Labour Party completely condemns these comments which are deeply offensive and wrong.

‘The chief whip has suspended the Labour whip from Diane Abbott pending an investigation.

Diane Abbott, who has now been stripped of the Labour whip, sparked a furious backlash with her suggestion Jewish people don’t suffer ‘racism’

70139321 0 image a 45 1682242367609 - Diane Abbott suspended by Labour over suggestion Jewish people 'don't suffer racism'

The veteran MP made the controversial comments in a letter to the Observer newspaper as she responded to a recent comment article

70140039 0 image a 47 1682244615931 - Diane Abbott suspended by Labour over suggestion Jewish people 'don't suffer racism'

Ms Abbott this morning issued a public apology to ‘wholly and unreservedly withdraw my remarks and disassociate myself from them’

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The 69-year-old is a close ally of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was last month blocked from standing as an official party candidate at the next general election

The row was sparked by Ms Abbott’s letter to the Observer newspaper, in which she responded to a recent comment article that stated Irish, Jewish and Traveller people all suffer from racism.

‘They undoubtedly experience prejudice,’ Ms Abbott wrote.

‘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. In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus. 

‘In apartheid South Africa, these groups were allowed to vote. And at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships.’

In response to Ms Abbott’s comments, Energy Secretary Grant Shapps posted on Twitter: ‘Once again, Jewish people have to wake up and see a Labour MP casually spouting hateful anti-Semitism.’

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick tweeted: ‘Minimising anti-Jewish racism as mere “prejudice” is ignorant, offensive and shameful.’

Oliver Cooper, the chair of Watford Conservative Association, called for Sir Keir to strip Ms Abbott of the Labour whip.

He tweeted: ‘Diane Abbott today says that it isn’t possible to be racist towards Jewish people, and that thousands of years of discrimination and genocide is just like a little teasing for being a redhead.

‘Truly revolting. Starmer must remove the Labour whip immediately.’

A senior Labour activist told MailOnline: ‘Shame that Diane decides that testing boundaries with Keir is more important than building solidarity between black people and other minorities. She should know better.

‘People are furious – this tendentious heirarchy of racism narrative only helps the racists in the end.’

Amid the backlash against her comments, Ms Abbott issued a public apology this morning.

In a statement posted on her Twitter account, she wrote: ‘I am writing regarding my letter that was recently published in the Observer.

‘I wish to wholly and unreservedly withdraw my remarks and disassociate 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.

‘Once again, I would likely (sic) to apologise publicly for the remarks and any distress caused as a result of them.’

Ms Abbott, who has been MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987, served as shadow home secretary under Mr Corbyn’s leadership of Labour.

In October 2020, the Equality and Human Rights Commission found the party had acted unlawfully in its treatment of Jewish members during Mr Corbyn’s leadership.

Mr Corbyn, who lost the Labour whip following his response to the damning EHRC report, was last month blocked from standing as an official Labour candidate at the next general election.

Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12004257/Labour-MP-Diane-Abbott-publicly-apologises-suggestion-Jewish-people-dont-suffer-racism.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270

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