Diane Abbott

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Diane Abbott
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God Save the King?
I suppose some people would judge that, on balance, Mao did more good than harm.
—Diane Abbott, "just putting the case for Mao".[1]

Diane Abbott (1953–) has been a British Labour MP since 1987 when she became the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons.

On racial issues[edit]

She has argued that Britain needs more black teachers to help tackle underachievement amongst black schoolboys.[2] She also provoked controversy when she wrote in the Hackney Gazette in 1996 that she objected to the amount of "blonde, blue-eyed Finnish girls" who had "never met a black person before" working as nurses at her local hospital "in multicultural Hackney", adding that "I am sure that these young women are charming. But they are basically here to improve their English and are unlikely to give the British health service a lifetime's commitment."[3] This led the Commission for Racial EqualityWikipedia to condemn her view as one which "stirs up racial hatred, reinforces negative attitudes and stereotyping" and one which "feeds racism and xenophobia".[4] This does not seem to have affected her in the long run, and in 2016 following Britain voting to leave the European Union and a wave of mass resignations from the shadow cabinet, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn appointed Abbott as Shadow Secretary of State for Health.[5][6]

In September 2010 tabloid newspaper The Daily Star stated that she had been reported to the police for inciting racial hatred after making comments about black workers avoiding job cuts.[7] Unsurprisingly, she has earned a noble place as something of a bogeywoman amongst the rabid British right, particularly ethnic nationalists.

Pro-science, pro-choice[edit]

Abbott has taken some strong pro-science positions. She supported the Science is Vital coalition and the Campaign for Science and Engineering[8] and was one of only 79 British MPs who signed Early Day Motion 377 noting the achievements of Charles Darwin, and calling for Darwin's birthday to be designated a public holiday to honour "one of the fathers of modern science and one of Britain's greatest, if not the greatest, scientific minds."[9] However, all is not well as she has also defended homeopathy.[10]

Abbott is also vociferously pro-choice.[11]


Abbott has become somewhat of a meme in the UK for her inability to do sums. This came to light after an interview on LBC, when Nick FerrariWikipedia asked her how Labour would fund a promised 10,000 extra police officers. Abbott stumbled over her figures and eventually came out with a pledge of £300,000, which would mean the officers would receive £30 a year.[12][13] It appears that she may also have trouble with counting, as she described the 125 seats lost in the election as "about 50".[14]


In 1996 Abbott claimed that Finnish immigrants should not be allowed to work as nurses because, being from a majority white country, they are therefore incapable of sympathizing with black people. Unsurprisingly, this drew the ire of anti-racism advocates.[15]

In a 1994 interview Abbot supported the IRA and declared that "every defeat for the British state is a victory for all of us". In the same interview she compared Unionists to supporters of Apartheid and declared that their views (in other words, the views of anyone who disagreed with her on the issue) should not be considered when debating Irish unification.[16] Years later in 2017 she dodged the question when asked if she regretted her open support of religious terrorism.[17]

In a June 2010 episode of This Week Abbott was grilled by host Andrew Neil about a comment she made in regards to her decision to send her son to a private school, that "West Indian mums will go to the wall for their children." "So black mothers love their children more than white?" asked Neil. He went on to ask "supposing Michael [Portillo, also on the show] had said white mums will go to the wall for their children...?" and "isn't that a racist remark?" while an obviously embarrassed Abbott was reduced to repeatedly saying "Andrew, I've got nothing more to say" and trying to change the subject.[18] Not helping matters was the fact that she had previously condemned private schools as elitist[19] and defended her decision by implying that she was afraid her son would join a gang if he went to a state school.[20]

In January 2012, Abbott tweeted that "white people love playing 'divide and rule' We should not play their game".[21] She only apologised after being ordered to by Labour leader Ed Miliband.[21]

Abbott was allegedly involved in a relationship with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn following Corbyn's separation from his first wife in the 1970s.[22] It was revealed in 2015 that Abbott, along with Jeremy Corbyn and other MPs on the Labour left, has been the subject of covert surveillance by the British police. There have been demands that the police files on these elected politicians be made public.[23]

In 2016, it was revealed that Abbott had voted against criminalising various terrorist organisations, including Al-Qaeda, mere months before 9/11.[24] She tried to defend herself by claiming that some of the other groups on the list were not terror groups, but was unable to give any examples.[25][26]

In November 2020 Abbott was forced to apologize after appearing in a livestream next to Chinese propagandist Li Jingjing. During the livestream Li claimed that the Uyghur genocide is a hoax, which Abbott did not question.[27]

During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Abbott was one of those on the left who looked at the unprovoked and illegal invasion and decided that it was the perfect time to attack NATO. She was one of eleven Labour MPs who signed a statement from the Stop the War Coalition accusing NATO of "eastward expansion", in the process lending credibility to Vladimir Putin's false claims to be defending Russia against Western imperialism. All eleven abruptly ended their principled stand and withdrew their signatures when threatened with suspension from the party.[28] While Abbott isn't necessarily wrong to criticize Western hegemony, there are better ways to go about it than repeating talking points from far-right dictators and lending credibility to equally bad behaviour from Western opponents.

In 2023 Abbott wrote a letter about racism to the Observer in which she stated that Jewish and Traveller people do not experience real racism on the basis that they were not targeted by the Jim Crow laws, Apartheid or the slave trade. She was indefinitely suspended from the Labour Party for these comments under pressure from a number of Jewish and Traveller groups, who called her remarks "inexcusable".[29]

Abuse on social media[edit]

In the run up to the 2017 general election, Abbott received almost half of all abuse sent to women MPs on Twitter, which is... fucking awful.[30]


  1. "Diane Abbott: Chairman Mao "on balance did more good than harm"". This Week. 21 February 2008 – uploaded onto YouTube on 26 November 2015 by Tom W. Huxley.
  2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/1747096.stm
  3. Sylvester, Rachel (28 November 1996). "Black MP was 'racist' over Finnish nurses". The Daily Telegraph (554). Archived from the original on 28 Nov 2002.
  4. Rentoul, John (29 November 1996). "Diane Abbott is sorry". The Independent. 
  5. Jamie Grierson and Anushka Asthana (27 June 2016). "Jeremy Corbyn unveils new shadow cabinet after raft of resignations". The Guardian.
  6. (27 June 2016). "Diane Abbott appointed shadow health secretary in Corbyn’s cabinet reshuffle". Hackney Citizen.
  7. http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/view/154022/Diane-Abbott-reported-to-cops-for-racism-over-black-jobs-appeal/
  9. 200th Anniversary Of The Birth Of Charles Darwin
  10. http://www.badscience.net/2007/09/homeopathy-gives-you-aids/
  11. Diane Abbott resigns from abortion counselling working group
  12. The Car-Crash Interview Everyone's Talking About: Diane Abbott On Police Funding
  13. Corbyn defends Diane Abbott after she stumbles over maths in interview gaffe
  14. Diane Abbott mixes her numbers up again when asked about Labour's local election losses
  15. Diane Abbott is sorry (For the record Miss Finland is also black)
  16. Diane Abbott backed victory for the IRA
  17. Diane Abbott refuses to say she 'regrets' calling for IRA to defeat British state
  18. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/this_week/8761601.stm
  19. Abbott speaks out on school row
  20. Diane Abbott: I sent my son to private school so he wouldn't end up in a gang
  21. 21.0 21.1 Diane Abbott apologises over Twitter racism row The Guardian, 5 January 2012
  22. Nadeem Badshah. "How Corbyn revealed Abbott was his lover". The Times. 30 January 2016. (subscription needed for full article).
  23. Labour MPs spied on by police demand to see secret files held on them
  24. Diane Abbott spoke out against ban on al-Qaeda months before 9/11
  25. Iain Quizzed Diane Abbott About Her Track Record And She Wasn't Happy About It
  26. Cringeworthy moment Diane Abbott is handed 'list of terror groups' she would NOT ban
  27. Diane Abbott apologises for appearing alongside Chinese human rights abuse denier
  28. Labour MPs drop backing for statement criticising Nato after Starmer warning
  29. Diane Abbott suspended as Labour MP after racism letter
  30. https://medium.com/@AmnestyInsights/unsocial-media-tracking-twitter-abuse-against-women-mps-fc28aeca498a