Labour MP Diane Abbott suspended after saying Jewish people do not face racism
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Labour MP Diane Abbott has been suspended by the party after writing a public letter claiming that Jewish people, as well as Irish people and Travellers do not experience ‘racism’.
In response to an article with the headline ‘Racism in Britain is not a black and white issue. It's far more complicated’ Abbott said that Jewish, Irish, and Traveller people experience ‘prejudice’ instead of racism.
She wrote: “This is similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable.
“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.”
Suspending the Labour whip from Abbott, the party released a statement that 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.”
The short letter written by Abbott is still online, and caused a backlash on social media after it was spotted.
The MP herself issued an apology distancing herself from the remarks, claiming that an ‘initial draft’ had been sent out instead.
She said: “I wish to wholly and unreservedly withdraw my 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.
“Once again, I would like to apologise publicly for the remarks and any distress caused as a result of them.”
In her letter, responding to an article written by Tomiwa Owolade, Abbott had said: “In pre-civil rights American, 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.”
Energy Secretary Grant Shapps criticised Abbott’s comments, writing: "Once again, Jewish people have to wake up and see a Labour MP casually spouting hateful antisemitism.
"@Keir_Starmer are you actually going to do anything?"
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth also condemned his party colleague’s comments as ‘deeply offensive’ and ‘deeply wrong’.