The suspension of Diane Abbott from the Labour whip in the House of Commons by Starmer is another grotesque instance of Labour’s purge of opponents of racism, and of socialists and left-wing people generally. In Abbott’s case she has been the MP who has been subjected more racial abuse than any other politician in Britain. Comrade Abbott has been purged for expressing her views in a letter to the Observer (23 April) about the different types and impacts of racism and prejudice affecting different minority populations in the UK.
We consider that while some of the views expressed by Abbott in her letter are mistaken, for instance about Travellers and Irish people, her views about racism against Jews are simply correct in today’s conditions. In any case, these topics are a legitimate subject for debate within the labour movement and Starmer’s suspension of Abbott represents utter hostility to the norms of free labour movement debate – which is not really news. No doubt it is also intended to get another ‘troublesome’ left-wing MP of long-standing out of the party, after Jeremy Corbyn. It is unlikely that Abbott will have any more success than Corbyn has in getting the whip back – Corbyn has now been officially barred from standing in the Islington North seat he has won over and over again since 1983. Abbott, who has done the same in Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987, is most likely to face a similar attack. If they were to both decide to stand as independent candidates in their own long-held seats in the coming General Election they would likely win, and give a big impetus to the need, felt by millions, for a leftist alternative to the Tories and hard neoliberal New Labour under Starmer. Whether they will seems highly doubtful, though it is not entirely clear whether they might do so under pressure from below.
Misogynoir and Racism
As has been pointed out previously, Abbott has been abused both racially and in a sexist manner, and the combination of the two produces the phenomenon of misogynoir, a special hatred of black women. An investigation by Amnesty International, cited in the Guardian from the period surrounding the 2019 General Election, into abuse on Twitter, noted that:
“Of the 140,000 tweets mentioning the shadow home secretary’s Twitter handle, @HackneyAbbott, one in 20 were classified as abusive. During the six months the tweets were monitored, Abbott received more abuse than all female MPs from the Conservative and Scottish National parties combined.”https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/sep/05/diane-abbott-more-abused-than-any-other-mps-during-election
Abbott herself recounted:
“Abbott told the study her experience as an MP had gone from receiving one racist letter a week to hundreds every day, including letters covered in swastikas and pictures of monkeys and chimpanzees. “It’s the volume of it which makes it so debilitating, so corrosive, and so upsetting. It’s the sheer volume. And the sheer level of hatred that people are showing,” she told researchers.”ibid
Furthermore, this racial abuse found repeated expression within the Labour Party. Two major reports, one commissioned under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the other conducted by Martin Forde QC after the leaking of the earlier report, found that attitudes to Diane Abbott and other BAME MPs in WhatsApp messages between Labour apparatchiks hostile to the Corbyn leadership (using official Labour Party phones and discussion groups), revealed “over and underlying racism and sexism” and “ expressions of visceral disgust, drawing (consciously or otherwise) on racist tropes, and they bear little resemblance to the criticisms of white male MPs elsewhere in the messages”.
So, the most prominent and long-standing black MP, a victim of much racial and bigoted abuse, including from within the Labour Party, has been suspended and threatened with expulsion, for expressing her opinion about racism. But none of her abusers have been so purged! What a scandal! Her letter is short enough to reproduce in full:
“Tomiwa Owolade claims that Irish, Jewish and Traveller people all suffer from “racism” … They undoubtedly experience prejudice. 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. In pre-civil rights America, 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.”
Though she did issue an apology for it being published, saying it was an early draft of a letter that had been sent to the paper by mistake. She had no need to apologize, though the letter could have been better written and some nuances better expressed. But these are political questions and debating the nature of racism or prejudice against various groups is completely legitimate in a labour movement where Zionism has played a major role in muddying the waters and poisoning debate.
She is wrong about Travellers and the Irish (in Britain at least), who have been subjected to sustained racism under British imperialism and colonialism, and in the case of Travellers, all over Europe. Racist oppression against the Irish in particular has been closely linked to Ireland’s position as Britain’s oldest colony: the Irish have been treated as less-than-human by the British ruling class for centuries and this has only weakened as British imperialism has itself weakened so much that it has had to relinquish part of its historic power in Ireland. Reluctantly to a nation that has gained from its membership of the European Union, which part of the British ruling class regards as a separate imperialist bloc that they reluctantly must work with (but many would keep as at much distance as possible – hence Brexit, and the travails of the ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’).
The degree of discrimination against Travellers including in Britain today, rivals and may even exceed that against black people. For decades after open discrimination on racial grounds became illegal in Britain, “no travellers” signs were a commonplace in pubs etc., particularly in the countryside. They are not unheard of even today, as a 2021 report by London Gypsies and Travellers highlighted:
“This has been an important “Me Too” moment for the Traveller community. The exposure of Pontins’ blacklisting of Irish Travellers has resonated hugely with many people’s experiences of discrimination. It has made plain the racism that Gypsies and Travellers routinely face, but which has become so normalised that it is barely remarked on.”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/17/irish-travellers-say-uk-blacklist-a-campaign-of-discrimination
And of course, gypsies and travellers were subjected to persecution and then extermination, along with the millions of Jews who were murdered by Hitler, in the Nazi genocide and extermination campaigns during and in the lead up to World War II. However, unlike Jews, who have pretty comprehensively overcome the oppressed position they were forced into before 1945, GRT people are still being persecuted, including by this government.
What comrade Abbott is perhaps guilty of is seeing racism through an excessively black lens. For someone from a very oppressed black community who has been personally subjected to torrents of racial abuse, however, that is perfectly comprehensible. The point she was clumsily making is that they’re not oppressed on the basis of colour. In recent times the BNP had some Jewish members and even councillors, there are prominent Jewish members in Le Pen’s party (and other far right parties) in France, and part of the Irish population is gravitating towards the far right over refugees in Ireland. These groups have not historically been oppressed solely on the basis of colour, whereas black people always have. Attempting to recognise the (several) genocides of the people of African origin is not permitted by the racist Labour Party, if it is given the legitimacy of being up there with the Nazi holocaust.
Abbot’s Purge – A Racist Outrage!
That she should face being purged for such a thing is an outrage! The Starmerites do not care two hoots about anti-Irish racism nor about Gypsies, Roma and Travellers (GRT) – as shown by their toleration of John Mann – a major force in the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign – who even issued pamphlets targeting Gypsies and Travellers alongside other supposedly ‘anti-social’ layers for ‘trespass’.
When she comes to talk about prejudice against Jews in today’s conditions, she is basically correct. Unlike Gypsies and Travellers, for instance, today, Jews are rarely identifiable, unless they choose to be so, and through upward mobility, have pretty comprehensively escaped from ghettoisation and oppression. The change in Britain has been so marked that before World War 2, Jews were a key social base not only of the Labour Party, but also of the Communist Party. Today, Jews are far more likely to support the Conservative Party than Labour.
This is the political expression of a layer of the population that has escaped from a subordinate, oppressed position and rightly considers itself to be privileged. Political Zionism was a key means by which this was effected. Its conservative, bourgeois politics was crucial in overcoming the hostility of the propertied classes to class-assimilation of Jews (whose origin was largely in a medieval community that were mainly involved in trade in commodities), into the middle and upper classes of Western capitalist societies, and therefore joining the dominant class layers of Western imperialism. Albeit with a distinctive, Zionist form of bourgeois politics that particularly sees Israel as ‘their’ transplanted imperialist state. Today, phoney allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ are a means to fend off criticism of the virulent Zionist racism against Palestinian Arabs and their defenders that plays a major role in Jewish communities in the West, and its considerable influence on imperialist policy in the Middle East.
This is what Starmer is upset about: criticism of this particular type of racism is not tolerated in his racist, Zionist ‘Labour’ Party. He himself stated his support for Zionism “without qualification”. Phoney fulminations against so-called ‘anti-Semitism’, i.e., criticism of this type of racism, played a major role in bringing down Corbyn’s leadership. The Big Lie was propagated widely that Corbyn was brought down by a supposed ‘scandal’ of his leadership’s supposed ‘discrimination’ against Jews. A complete pack of lies from start to finish, a total scam, but reinforced by the state’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, now run for the benefit of neoliberalism, not oppressed groups.
But this clearly racist purge makes the real, racist nature of Starmer’s party much clearer. And he will not be able to escape this. The most abused, black female member of Labour’s Parliamentary Party is being purged for commenting on her own oppression and that of others, while those in Labour who abused her, and others, get off scot-free. This makes clear – Starmer’s leadership is an enemy of Britain’s oppressed black and Asian minority populations, and this enmity stems in considerable part from the Zionist politics of Labour’s leading cliques.
Down with the Starmer/Zionist racist purge of Diane Abbott!
Reinstate her now!
No vote to Starmer’s Zionist New Labour!