Abbott, Diane


Born in London in 1953, Diane Abbott would go on to become the first black woman ever elected to Parliament, representing the diverse north London constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington. Abbott has for many years been an important voice on the left of the Labour Party.

In April 2023, she lost the Labour Party whip at Westminster following a controversial letter that she wrote to the Observer newspaper about racism.  The Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who is Jewish, described the letter “deeply offensive and deeply distressing”.

Diane Abbott’s letter was ‘deeply wrong, historically wrong, and offensive’, says shadow minister

In September 2023, Abbott claimed that Labour’s whips office is no longer conducting a formal investigation.

She said that the internal inquiry is “now run entirely out of the Labour party HQ, which reports to Keir Starmer – and there is no investigation”.

She added: “I am the longest-serving black MP. Yet there is widespread sentiment that as a black woman and someone on the left of the party, that I will not get a fair hearing from this Labour leadership.”

Abbott’s career in front line politics advanced most notably during Jeremy Corbyn’s time as Labour Leader.  A key-ally to Corbyn, Abbott was, consecutively, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development (2015-2016) and Shadow Home Secretary (2016-2020). Under Ed Miliband, Abbott served on the shadow health team (2010-2013).

Since Keir Starmer’s election as Labour leader, Abbott has been sidelined, and from her position on the back-benches, and at times, has been critical of the party’s new leadership.

Political Career

Having been elected as the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington in 1987—a borough located in north-London, Abbott initially didn’t progress far within the Parliamentary Labour Party, particularly during the era of New Labour. Through much of the 1990s, Abbott served on the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons, after which she joined the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

In 2010, Abbott made a bid for the Labour Leadership. She limped through the contests’ first-round with the minimum 33 MP endorsements. Fellow leadership contender David Miliband was said to have lent Abbott his vote, reportedly in hope that she might subsequently deprive his brother, Ed, of left-wing support. Facing the Milibands, Andy Burnham and Ed Balls in the contest, Abbott described her opponents as ‘geeky men in suits’.

Abbott was an outspoken supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and served in his shadow Cabinet throughout his time as Labour leader.

Diane Abbott and Keir Starmer

Following the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s finding that the Labour Party broke equality law during the leadership of Corbyn, the former Labour leader was suspended from the party. Abbott was prominent in her opposition to Corbyn’s expulsion and she shared a petition on social media to demand Corbyn be reinstated.

Abbott tweeted, ‘He has always stood with us.  We must stand with him’.

Abbott has accused Keir Starmer of using his remain platform during his time in Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet as a project of his own so to become Labour Leader. The former Shadow Home Secretary told the BBC Newsnight that Starmer’s ambition was ‘apparent’.

Following the announcement of a police investigation into whether Sir Keir Starmer may have broken lockdown rules by having a beer and takeaway with staff at an event in Durham in 2021, Diane Abbott was one of the first Labour MPs to suggest Sir Keir should “consider his position” if he was fined by police.

Political Views and Controversies

A committed Socialist, Abbott is a long time member of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs; Jeremy Corbynand John McDonnell are also members.

Diane Abbott: London shouldn’t have another white, middle-aged man as mayor

Abbott was criticised in 2003 for sending her son to private school—a move many felt was inconsistent with her socialist values. Abbott had previously criticised her Labour colleagues—including Tony Blair—of being ‘intellectually incoherent’ when they did the same.

When questioned about the controversy, Abbott has defended her decision saying,’I had to choose between my reputation as a politician and my son’.

As Shadow Home Secretary at the time, Abbott led the Labour response to the ‘Windrush Scandal’. Abbott repeatedly questioned then-Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, on the matter and called on him to publish the figures for people caught up in the affair.  Abbott continues to champion the Windrush cause.

Abbott apologises for ‘white people’ jibe


How old is Diane Abbott?
Diane Julie Abbott was born on the 27thof September 1953.

What did Diane Abbott do before politics?
After graduating with a history degree from Cambridge University, Abbott became a Civil Servant at the Home Office.

Following this, Abbott went on to work for the lobby group the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty), and became a journalist.

As a journalist, Abbott worked as a reporter for the breakfast television company TV-AM and for Thames Television. She also worked as a public relations consultant for various public sector clients.

Is Diane Abbott married?
Diane Abbott was married to David Ayensu-Thompson, a Ghanaian architect. The two divorced in 1993.

Diane Abbott – 3 Things you may not know

She turned down an invitation for Celebrity Come Dancing
In 2020, Abbott was invited to participate in Strictly Come dancing. Abbott refused the invitation, later telling BBC Radio Four’s ‘Today Programme that she thought about the decision for about ‘sixty seconds’.

She once had a romantic relationship with Jeremy Corbyn
In the early 1970s, Abbott was romantically involved with one Jeremy Corbyn, her future boss, while he was a Councillor in north London.

Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo
At neighbouring schools in their youth, Abbott and Michael Portillo have known each other since childhood. At a joint-school production, the two performed in a production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’—albeit not in the title roles.

Abbott would later reunite with Portillo on BBC One’s ‘This Week’ programme.

Social Media

Twitter Handle — @HackneyAbbott

Facebook Address — @Dianeabbott

Personal Website —