Diane Abbott has united the Black community, anti-racists and the left of the labour movement in her defence

Diane Abbott addressing MPs as Shadow Home Secretary 2019

By Mark Buckley

The wholly unjust Labour party disciplinary proceedings against Diane Abbott has now been met by strong resistance from key forces in the Black community, in the labour and trade union movement and from anti-racists. The clear message is that she is being targeted by the leadership for racist and factional reasons.

Given the breadth of its initial support, the campaign in her defence seems set to run. It is becoming a focal point for the left inside and outside the Labour party which has already seen through the Starmer project, which is nothing more than hammering the left and politically serving the interests of the ruling class.

The excellent front page splash in Diane Abbott’s defence in last Saturday’s Morning Star has already been reproduced on this website and can be read here. It includes strong support from 16 MPs, many of whom are Black, as well Matt Wrack, Mick Whelan and Dave Ward, trade union general secretaries of the FBU, Aslef and the CWU respectively.

Momentum has called the party’s treatment of her “nothing short of disgraceful” and a “new low.”

More recently, The Voice newspaper continued its strong support with a detailed interview here, focused on the racism in British society and inside the Labour party, and Diane Abbott’s battles against both.

The anti-racist movement has joined forces with these others in her defence. Diane Abbott is the President of Stand Up to Racism. They have combined with some of their closest trade union allies in her defence, including Mark Serwotka, Daniel Kabede and Sarah Woolley, the general secretaries of the PCS, NEU and BFAWU trade unions respectively as well as Tony Kearns the deputy general secretary of the CWU.

They argue that Diane Abbott has fought the racist Tory agenda, “and has been a vociferous campaigner against all forms of racism for decades,” and called for the restoration of the party whip.

There has been a further indictment of the party leadership on these issues and in defence of Britain’s first Black woman MP made by Labour Black Socialists. They pull no punches in accusing the Labour party of operating a ‘hierarchy of racism’ and argue that Labour’s intervention to remove the elected officers of her constituency “is both racially and factionally motivated.”

This judgement is correct and the full thread can be read under their handle on X (formerly known as Twitter).

The Starmer leadership seems determined to prove all its left critics correct. Its latest rule changes will downgrade the role of equalities officer in constituency parties. At the same time, it is proposing to gut conference of any possible public criticism of its policies. Finally, it will widen the witch-hunt, using the loosest possible definitions of ‘support’ for candidates to the left of Labour standing candidates against it.

Anti-equality, undemocratic witch-hunters

But the campaign in support of Diane Abbott has gained a momentum of its own.

Readers can raise this issue everywhere in the labour movement, their campaigns, and communities. It can and should be raised in trade unions; on social media; with anti-racist campaigners, and in unofficial local Labour Party meetings such as Labour left meetings and others. The only area of caution is raising this in official Labour party meetings, as members have been witch-hunted for less.

The campaign has galvanised many of those otherwise disheartened by the sharp right turn of the Labour leadership. Crucially, it has brought together the Black community, anti-racists and the labour movement left angered by her factional and racist treatment.

This alliance will be crucial in the period ahead in resisting what is set to be a Labour government presiding over no improvement in living standards and rising racism.