top of page



  • Facebook Clean Grey
  • Twitter Clean Grey
  • Instagram Clean Grey

MP Diane Abbott suspended by Labour after claiming Jews don’t face racism

Diane Abbott suggested Irish, Jewish and Traveller people don’t experience racism ‘all their lives’ in a letter to The Observer (Picture: PA)

Diane Abbott has been suspended from the Labour Party while a letter she wrote about racism for The Observer newspaper is investigated.

The party confirmed the long-serving MP, who served as shadow home secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, has lost the whip.

Shortly before Opposition chief whip Alan Campbell’s decision was announced, Ms Abbott had apologised for writing the letter.

In it, she claimed that although white people ‘with points of difference’ – such as Irish, Jewish and Traveller people – suffer prejudice, they have not suffered the same racism as black people.

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.’

In her letter to the Observer, the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP wrote: ‘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.’

Labour Against Antisemitism said her comments were ‘simply unacceptable’, and had called on leader Sir Keir Starmer to remove the whip before this morning’s announcement.

The group’s spokeswoman Fiona Sharpe said: ‘Ms Abbott is either woefully misinformed or deliberately bigoted. Neither should be tolerated.’

Energy Secretary Grant Shapps, who is Jewish, said on Twitter the MP was ‘casually spouting hateful antisemitism’, and also urged Mr Starmer to take action.

Writing on the same social media site, Ms Abbott said: ‘I wish to wholly and unreservedly withdraw my written 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.’

She added: ‘Once again, I would like to apologise publicly for the remarks and any distress caused as a result of them.’

The Jewish Labour Movement said it ‘regretfully’ supports the decision to take action against Ms Abbott while the letter is investigated.

In a statement, the group said: ‘Diane Abbott is one of the most respected people in the Labour party as an activist who overcame racism and prejudice to become Britain’s first Black woman MP.

‘We should be unified in our struggle against racism, not divided against one another. A hierarchy of racism only divides communities and assists the racists.’



bottom of page