Diane Abbott lashes out at ‘fraudulent’ Labour probe over her letter claiming Jews do not suffer racism

The Hackney MP claimed she would 'not get a fair hearing' after being suspended over the remarks


Britain's main opposition Labour Party shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbott addresses a demonstration against the threat of war on Iran, in Trafalgar Square, central London on January 11, 2020, - Iran said January 11, 2020, that it had unintentionally shot down the Ukrainian airliner that crashed this week outside Tehran killing 176 people, calling it an "unforgivable mistake". (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Diane Abbott has lashed out at a “fraudulent” Labour investigation into a letter she wrote to the Observer arguing that Jews do not suffer from racism.

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington was suspended over the letter, which said that while “Irish, Jewish and Traveller people” experienced prejudice, this was not the same as racism.

In a statement posted on Twitter/X on Tuesday, Abbott, whose constituency has a large strictly Orthodox Jewish population, said: “I will not get a fair hearing from this Labour leadership.” 

Following a furore over the letter, which was published in April, Abbott apologised and withdrew it. The Labour Party suspended the whip from her pending an investigation. 

In a statement, she wrote: “The internal Labour Party disciplinary against me is fraudulent. I was told by the Chief Whip to actively engage with an investigation. But the Labour Whips are no longer involved – it is now run entirely out of the Labour Party HQ, which reports to Keir Starmer- and there is no investigation.” 

Abbott’s letter had been her response to an article written by Tomiwa Owolade in the Sunday newspaper about a report on inequality in Britain, which showed that Jews and Travellers face more racism than black people. 

Abbott wrote that Jewish, Irish and traveller communities did not experience racism but only “prejudice”, claims that Sir Keir Starmer branded “antisemitic”. 

The errors, she explained, “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”. 

In her published letter, she had written that prejudice was “similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable”. 

It was true, she had written, that “many types of white people” could experience 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.” 

In her statement, Abbott claimed that at the time Starmer “almost immediately pronounced my guilt publicly."

She adds: “This completely undermines any idea that there is fairness or any natural justice. It is procedurally improper.  

“To be clear, I immediately and unreservedly apologised for my letter.” 

She added: “Others have committed far more grave offences, and belated or grudging apologies have been wrung from them. Yet they have been immediately excused as supporters of his leadership.” 

Abbott continued: “The Labour Party has not charged me with antisemitism because they know it is untrue. As someone who has fought all forms of racism all my life, I would consider it a very serious allegation. Instead it has been used to smear me, my reputation and decades of anti-racist work.”

In response, a Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party rightly expects the highest standards of behaviour from its elected representatives, and has introduced an independent complaints process to investigate cases.

“We do not give a running commentary on ongoing investigations.”

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