Just hours after being told that the whip had been restored Diane Abbott reveals that she has been told she cannot stand as Labour Candidate in Hackney and Stoke Newington. Abbott told the BBC’s Joe Pike: “Although the whip has been restored, I am banned from standing as a Labour candidate.”

This move by Labour removes a candidate in a very winnable seat who currently holds a 33,188 majority and who was revealed by an Amnesty International report in 2020 to be the MP who receives the most racist abuse in the UK. With over 51 abusive tweets per day in the 158 day period leading up to the 2017 General Election, she received over 70% of the abusive tweets analysed.

Earlier this year referring directly to Diane Abbott, Tory donor Frank Hester said: “The left wants to see racism everywhere. You can’t even say that seeing a Black politician on TV makes you want to hate all Black people, and call for that MP to be shot anymore, without the tofu-eating wokerati calling you racist!” Whilst his comments were defended by Tory MPs, it was noticeable that whilst Starmer used them to condemn the Tories he has allowed Diane Abbott to be victimised within Labour.

Diane Abbott is a role model for many black women. She was Britain’s first black woman MP and has been MP for Hackney and Stoke Newington since 1987. She is currently the longest serving black MP in the House of Commons. What is noticeable, however, is that despite being a woman she receives little or no support from so-called feminists on her side of the House who watch whilst she is abused.

Following the Frank Hester comments the speaker of the House Of Commons Lindsay Hoyle failed to call her in a debate about her. You would have thought Labour would be outraged, but it was difficult for them to be because they had removed the whip from her. So watching the debate we could see Diane Abbott repeatedly stand to be called and repeatedly ignored. Not one Labour MP complained.

The comments that led to her losing the whip were in a letter to The Observer, a paper that had been at the forefront of smearing her colleague and friend Jeremy Corbyn, in response to an article which used some dubious statistical evidence to claim that Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers experienced racism in greater numbers than some black people. It was not a particularly cogent argument and as Diane Abbott, the Cambridge educated scholar, pointed out some white groups “undoubtedly experience prejudice” but this is not the same as the institutional racism experienced by black people. As she said, ” they are not all their lives subject to racism.”

Nobody leapt to the defence of Irish or Traveller people, but Diane had crossed a line for the avowed Zionist leader of Labour by suggesting that Jews were not subjected to daily racism. After all, had the party not just spent an inordinate amount of effort to prove that every word that came out of their former leaders mouth was tainted with antisemitism. Ignoring entirely the fact that the EHRC report never actually claimed that Corbyn was antisemitic and the later Forde Report which concluded that antisemitism had been used as a “factional weapon”, Labour immediately removed the whip.

It is worth reminding ourselves that the Forde Report also highlighted the extent of Islamophobia in the Labour Party and blatant discrimination against black and minority ethnic ‘.comrades’

Today’s revelation that having been given the whip back that Diane Abbott is not going to be allowed to defend her seat as a sitting MP is further evidence, as if it is needed, that Labour is institutionally racist. A vote for Labour will be a vote for a party that can easily justify a genocide against Palestinians and which is more than happy to hound a black female MP out of office. So simple advice: don’t vote Labour.

UPDATE: In the past few minutes (12.29 pm 29/05/24) Keir Starmer has said: “No decision has been taken to bar Diane Abbott” Whether that turns out to be true or not we shall have to wait to see. But if it is true then what made Diane Abbott feel that it was. Surely, if the decision to restore the whip was made and apparently it was made months ago, then as a sitting MP her preselection should have been a formality. Even if she is eventually allowed to stand as a candidate it shows an incredibly insensitive handling of the whole affair by those at the top of the party. Starmer as leader must accept that the responsibility for this fiasco lies with him.

FURTHER UPDATE (Thursday 30th May): Diane Abbott vowed last night to remain an MP for as long as possible. It has now emerged that after months of haggling a deal had been agreed in which the party would restore the whip and she would voluntarily stand down. This was reneged upon when a Labour staffer leaked to the press that she had been barred from standing. This enraged Diane who had expected her announcement to be met with a flurry of valedictory commendations from former colleagues. It is worth noting that Abbott has kept remarkably quiet in recent months, saying nothing about Jeremy Corbyn’s forced exit from the party, and from May 3rd (presumably because she was in negotiations over her own future) saying nothing publicly about the worsening situation in Gaza. Labour will now have to decide whether they treat Abbott as they have other ‘left’ candidates, including Brighton MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Chingford and Woodford Green candidate Faiza Shaheen who have been removed as candidates for opposing Israel. If they do will Abbott take the independent route after she has said publicly that she would be “campaigning for a Labour victory”?

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