Diane Abbott has Labour whip suspended

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Diane Abbott
Diane Abbott and then-shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer at 2019 remain rally (PA)

Diane Abbott loses the Labour whip

Labour MP Diane Abbott has had the whip suspended following remarks in which she suggested Jewish people do not face racism but instead face prejudice.

Abbot the former shadow home secretary under Jeremy Corbyn apologised over the comments and said the letter published in The Observer had been an “initial draft” sent by mistake.

The letter stated that Jewish, Irish and traveller communities have experienced “prejudice”, but added: “This is similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable.

The letter was sent to the Observer in response to an article titled: “Racism in Britain is not a black and white issue. It’s far more complicated,” written by Tomiwa Owolade.

Ms Abbott said she was responding to the writer Tomiwa Owolade’s claims that “Irish, Jewish and Traveller people all suffer from ‘racism'”, saying: “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.”

Ms Abbott added: “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.”

The letter in full shows Abbott trying to distinguish the difference between racism and prejudice using the distinction of racism and prejudice in apartheid, South Africa.

Stating: “In pre-civil rights American, 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.”

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington added: “And at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships.”

Diane Abbott wrote… “Tomiwa Owolade claims that Irish, Jewish and Traveller people all suffer from ‘racism’. 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. 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.”

Ms Abbott’s short letter, which is still online, provoked an expected reaction on social media on Sunday morning before the Labour MP issued an apology – dissociating herself from her own letter and saying she withdrew her remarks and making an apology, saying:

“I wish to wholly and unreservedly withdraw my remarks and disassociate myself from them,” said the Labour MP. “The errors arose in an initial draft being sent. But there is no excuse, and I wish to apologise for any anguish caused.

“The errors arose in an initial draft being sent,” she wrote. “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 like to apologise publicly for the remarks and any distress caused as a result of them.”

“Once again, I would like to apologise publicly for the remarks and any distress caused as a result of them.”

Despite Ms Abbott’s apology, amid widespread outrage on Sunday morning, Labour’s chief whip Alan Campbell decided to withdraw the whip.

A Labour spokesman 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.”

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

The decision forces Ms Abbott to sit as an independent MP in the Commons.

Of course, some would say: ‘She walked right into it’ and this will no doubt please Starmer.

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