Diane Abbott

British Labour Party politician, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (born 1953)

Diane Julie Abbott (born 27 September 1953) is a British Labour Party politician who served as Shadow Home Secretary from 2016 to 2020. She was first elected at the 1987 general election as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. The first black woman to be a member of the House of Commons, she was suspended from Labour's parliamentary whip in April 2023 (after implying Jews have not experienced racism) and sat as an independent until the whip was restored in late May 2024. After the 2024 general election, she (informally) became Mother of the House, the longest continuously serving female MP.

Diane Abbott in 2010

Quotes

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1983

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1985

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1994

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  • Being an MP is the sort of job all working-class parents want for their children — clean, indoors and no heavy lifting.
    • The Independent (18 January 1994).

1996

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  • I am surprised that they chose to bring in blonde, blue-eyed girls from Finland, instead of nurses from the Caribbean who know the language and understand British culture and institutions. [...] Are Finnish girls, who may never have met a black person before, let alone touched one, best suited to nurse in multicultural Hackney?
    • On the recruitment of Finnish nurses in Britain from an article in the Hackney Gazette, as cited in "Abbott denies attack on nurses was racist", The Herald (Glasgow, 28 November 1996)
    • Hackney's Homerton Hospital, in Abbott's constituency, was experiencing staff shortages.

2010–2015

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  • White people love playing ‘divide & rule’. We should not play their game.
    • Twitter post reproduced in The Daily Telegraph (5 January 2012). [1]
  • Of course, sex is great. We don't have to pretend otherwise. But people shouldn't feel victimised by a pornified culture and girls shouldn't be forced to do things they don't feel comfortable with.
  • There is a crisis of masculinity in Britain because of the pressures rapid economic and social change have placed on masculine identity. A generation of men are in transit and unclear of their social role. They are also under pressure to live up to pornified ideals.
  • On balance Mao did more good than harm.
    • On BBC One's This Week during a debate over who was the history's worst dictator. [2] (27 November 2015).

2016

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  • When I had been at primary school, I was very good at writing essays. It was a big thing. My essays were so good they would get pinned up on the wall and read out to the rest of the class
  • There's no question women politicians get a level of abuse online which men don't get. New media and the anonymity has unleashed a really quite violent misogyny which I didn't see when I started in politics, although consistently women always get more severe abuse in the media than men.

2017

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  • I think that's what we were referencing when we talked about easy movement [of workers after the UK has left the EU's single market] - less bureaucracy; it's good for migrants but it's also good for business
  • The health service, they're very worried about a collapse in the number of EU migrants coming here. Social care would be in a terrible position.... finance, education. The reality is that business, the CBI, the Institute of Directors, but also health, education and social care; they say that they need these European migrants and we have to listen to them.

2018

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2019

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Quotes about Abbott

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  • To counter her argument that the "prejudice" experienced by Irish, Jewish and Traveller people is not a patch on the "racism" suffered by black people, I cannot improve on the letter from someone whose family left a city in Poland where more than 99% of Jews were exterminated for their race and whose experiences of British antisemitism includes having Nazi insignia brandished in their face. As the anonymous writer says: "To compare those experiences to the struggles of redheads is incomprehensible." Quite.
  • Compare the blond Etonian [Boris Johnson] to Britain’s first black woman MP, and you see how racist and sexist 21st-century century Britain remains. No matter how great the sin, how brazen the deceit, how lethally complacent the politician, he gets to come back again and again, and fills his pockets while doing so. Abbott can't even enjoy an M&S mojito on the tube without it becoming a major scandal. She has faced racial bullying – including from within her own party – that would have broken others. Little of that is remembered, and none of it helps.
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