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Diane Abbott to stand for Labour in Hackney North and Stoke Newington, party confirms | Politics News

Labour have confirmed Diane Abbott is standing as a candidate for the party in Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which is in charge of final approval of election candidates, has given the go-ahead for the veteran MP to stand in the seat she has held for 37 years.

It published the list of approved Labour candidates for the election on Tuesday lunchtime ahead of the deadline for all nominations on Friday afternoon.

The decision comes after a week of confusion over whether she would be allowed to stand following the Labour whip being restored to her after a year-long suspension while she was investigated for writing a letter saying Jewish, Irish and Traveller people do not face racism.

She apologised soon after the letter was published.

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After days of confusion, including on Ms Abbott’s part, Sir Keir said last week it was not up to him to decide if she could stand, as it was up to the NEC panel.

But eventually, he said she would be allowed to stand for Labour.

Ms Abbott, the UK’s first female black MP, had accused Sir Keir of carrying out a “cull of left wingers”.

Her close friend and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was expelled from the party and is standing as an independent in neighbouring Islington North, told Sky News Sir Keir is “clearly intervening” in a “purge” of left-wing candidates.

On Sunday, Ms Abbott said she “intends to run and win” following speculation she may choose to stand down.

Ahead of the final decision by the NEC on Tuesday, Sir Keir said: “Look, we’ve dealt with the Diane Abbott issue. I made the position absolutely clear last week when I said she was free to run for the election.

“She’s one of the candidates that we now put before the electorate.”

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Starmer’s decision over Diane Abbott is part of a wider strategy – but polling suggests trouble ahead | Politics News

Does Diane Abbott and the row over her future matter?

Keir Starmer clearly calculated not so much, although I’m told it blew up far more than the leader’s office expected, with the mess and delay a product of disagreements internally about what to do with her.

High-profile Labour politicians like Jess Phillips are now kicking off, and televised rallies in front of supporters in Hackney have undoubtedly obliterated the party’s attempts to get messages out on NHS waiting times.

General election latest:
Abbott tells rally she won’t be ‘intimidated’

But does it move the dial politically – particularly when the party is 27 points ahead according to the latest Sky News/YouGov poll and Sir Keir is keen to do all he can to preserve relations with the Jewish community?

Possibly not in the first instance. But it may have secondary effects.

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Diane Abbott: ‘I’m banned from running for Labour’

Sir Keir is avowedly determined to present a “changed” Labour Party, away from the one that held Jeremy Corbyn in high esteem.

The decisions about Ms Abbott are part of that wider strategy. There are still parts of the party nostalgic for this era, however, and Sir Keir famously won the leadership trying to keep them onside.

But there’s a paradox in the polling that suggests trouble ahead. Yes, if the polls are to be believed (and many Tories don’t) Labour is on course for a decent majority and control of Number 10.

However, Sir Keir’s own ratings are – less than stellar.

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Poll: Labour surges to 27-point lead

The YouGov/Sky News poll asked this week whether voters thought he would be a good or bad prime minister. Almost half – 47% – said bad. The older the voter, the more pessimistic they are.

Sir Keir is starting from a low base – not as bad as Rishi Sunak, but still bad. By contrast, only 33% said they thought he’d be good.

That level of enthusiasm suggests Sir Keir may not enjoy much of a public opinion honeymoon, just at a point where he is likely to have to start by making difficult decisions, most notably on raising taxes.

One of the themes of this election has been the party’s clarity that while it will promise not to raise income tax, national insurance and corporation tax, no such bar exists on other taxes.

Read more:
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With rules to restrain borrowing lifted from the Tories and unsustainably tight Whitehall spending plans, something has to give.

Judging by the first week of the campaign, that seems to be tax – a subject the Tories are likely to dwell on in the coming days.

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If he is suddenly unpopular, Sir Keir needs an army of supporters to insulate him.

But some of those are the supporters who are unhappy with his treatment of Ms Abbott.

This row might not matter that much now or in this campaign, but if the bonds between leader and party are easily frayed then there’s trouble ahead.

Rishi Sunak could tell him that.

Diane Abbott hits out at ‘level of racism still in Britain’ as MP is cheered by supporters at rally | Politics News

Diane Abbott has appeared at a rally where she hit out at the “level of racism that is still in Britain”, following a row over comments made about her.

Ms Abbott was greeted in Hackney, east London, with cheers and chants of “I stand with Diane” after a Tory donor’s reported offensive remarks.

The former Labour MP praised the people of Hackney whom she said “stood by her – year after year, decade after decade”.

Diane Abbott. File pic: PA

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In the wake of the race row, she said: “This is not about me, this is about the level of racism that is still in Britain. This is about the way that black women are disrespected.”

The MP for Hackney and Stoke Newington, who was suspended from the parliamentary Labour Party last year, went on to say her mother came to Britain in the 1950s as a nurse.

“She was in that generation of black women who built the national health service,” she said.

Ms Abbott, who currently sits as an independent MP in the Commons, attended the rally days after comments by Tory donor Frank Hester emerged in The Guardian.

He reportedly said at a 2019 meeting that she made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

Mr Hester, who is the chief executive of The Phoenix Partnership, said he was “deeply sorry” for the remarks, but insisted they had “nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin”.

Frank Hester. Pic: PA/CHOGM Rwanda 2022
Frank Hester. Pic: PA/CHOGM Rwanda 2022

The Conservatives have faced pressure to return the money Mr Hester has donated to the party in the wake of the row, which is understood to total £15m since 2019.

There have also been calls among Ms Abbott’s supporters for her to be allowed back into the parliamentary Labour Party again by having the whip restored.

Read more:
Rayner wants Abbott back in parliamentary Labour Party

Ms Abbott had the Labour whip removed from her last year following comments she made in the Observer in which she said Jewish, Irish and Traveller people do not face “racism” but instead suffer prejudice similar to “redheads” – something for which she later apologised.

On Friday night, The Independent reported Ms Abbott had not had the whip restored because she refused to take part in antisemitism training – a claim she rejected as a “blatantly shoddy piece of journalism”.

The Labour Party has said it does not comment on individual cases.