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Unions, MPs and campaigners urge Starmer to restore Diane Abbott's whip one year on

UNIONS, MPs and anti-racism campaigners renewed their call for Diane Abbott’s Labour whip to be restored today, marking the first anniversary of her suspension from the party.

Labour suspended Ms Abbott after a letter she wrote distinguishing between anti-black racism and racism directed at Irish, Jewish and Traveller people, saying the latter were not subjected to racism “all their lives.”

    Although she promptly withdrew her remarks and apologised “for any anguish caused,” she has now sat as an independent for a year.

    Nearly 12,000 people had backed a petition calling on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to end what he insists is an independent investigation into her allegedly anti-semitic comments as the Star went to press.

    Ms Abbott has not, to date, been questioned in relation to Labour’s supposed investigation.

    Marking the anniversary, Labour MP Apsana Begum said: “One year is too long – the whip should absolutely be restored to Diane.

    “Diane has stood with communities of all backgrounds for decades against racism, division and hate.

    “As racism continues to persist, we stand on her mighty shoulders in fighting for fairness and equality.”

    Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell added: “The treatment of Diane Abbott has been appalling.

    “The way in which her case has been dealt with in comparison with others leaves the Labour Party open to charges of discrimination and abusive behaviour towards the first black woman MP.”

    Stand up to Racism co-convener Sabby Dhalu said: “Diane Abbott MP’s record on fighting racism is second to none and restoring the whip to her will help mobilise the Labour vote.”

    Hackney North constituency Labour Party member John Stewart said every branch party member and affiliate had voted for Ms Abbott’s reselection as Labour’s parliamentary candidate.

    The petition was initiated by the Labour Assembly Against Austerity and Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas. 

    On behalf of the two organisations, activist Matt Willgress noted  growing support for Ms Abbott and urged the Labour Party and trade union bodies to follow the lead of the UCU and NEU, which have produced a model motion in solidarity for Ms Abbott.

    The petition has also been supported by MPs Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Beth Winter, Richard Burgon, Nadia Whittome and Ian Lavery, as well as Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan, BFAWU general secretary Sarah Woolley, Richard Leonard MSP and the Labour Women Leading group.

    Former deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman joined a growing number of Labour figures supporting Ms Abbott’s readmission to the party last month.

    Labour was contacted for comment.

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