Abbott, Diane

Overview

Born in London in 1953, Dianne Abbot would go on to become the first black woman ever elected to Parliament, representing the diverse constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington. Abbot remains an important voice on the left of the Labour Party. Under Ed Miliband, Abbot served on the shadow health team (2010-2013). During Jeremy Corbyn’s time as Labour Leader, Abbot’s career progressed further. A key-ally to Corbyn, Abbot was, consecutively, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development (2015-2016) and Shadow Home Secretary (2016-2020). Since Keir Starmer’s election, Abbot has been sidelined, and from her position on the back-benches, she has been critical of the new Labour Leader.

Political Career

Having been elected as the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington in 1987—a borough located in north-London, Abbot initially didn’t progress far within the Parliamentary Labour Party, particularly during the era of New Labour. Through much of the 1990s, Abbot served on the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons, after which she joined the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. A committed Socialist, Abbott is a long time member of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs; Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are also members.

In 2010, Abbot 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 Abbot 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, Abbot described her opponents as ‘geeky men in suits’.

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

Dianne Abbot 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. Abbot was prominent in her opposition to Corbyn’s expulsion and she shared a petition on social media to demand Corbyn be reinstated.  Abbot tweeted, ‘He has always stood with us.  We must stand with him’.

Abbot 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’.

Political Views and Controversies

Abbot was criticised in 2003 for sending her son to private school—a move many felt was inconsistent with her socialist values. Abbot had previously criticised her Labour colleagues—including Tony Blair—of being ‘intellectually incoherent’ when they did the same. When questioned about the controversy, Abbot 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, Abbot led the Labour response to the ‘Windrush Scandal’. Abbot 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.  Abbot continues to champion the Windrush cause.

Background

How old is Dianne Abbot?

Diane Julie Abbot was born on the 27thof September 1953.

What did Dianne Abbot do before politics?

After graduating with a history degree from Cambridge University, Abbot became a Civil Servant at the Home Office. Following this, Abbot went on to work for the lobby group the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty), and became a journalist. As a journalist, Abbot 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 Dianne Abbot married?

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

Diane Abbot – 3 Things you may not know

She turned down an invitation for Celebrity Come Dancing

In 2020, Abbot was invited to participate in Strictly Come dancing. Abbot 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, Abbot was romantically involved with one Jeremy Corbyn, her future boss, while he was a Councillor in north London.

As a child, she performed on stage with Michael Portillo

At neighbouring schools in their youth, Abbot 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.

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

Social Media

Twitter Handle — @HackneyAbbott

Facebook Address — @Dianeabbott

Personal Website — http://www.dianeabbott.org.uk/