Diane Abbott sorry after suggesting that Jews don’t face racism
Diane Abbott’s letter to a newspaper about racism was sent twice with both versions identical, it has been claimed.
The letter was sent to The Observer from the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP’s own email and there was no effort to revise it in the seven days after, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
The newspaper reports that the first time the letter was sent, Ms Abbott received an automatic reply asking for it to be submitted again with a postal address.
It was then sent a second time but the text of the letter was not changed, according to the newspaper.
The veteran MP, who lost the Labour whip on Sunday following a backlash over the letter which suggested Jewish people are subject to prejudice but not racism, had claimed it was an “initial draft” in an apology.
In her letter, Ms Abbott – who made history as the first black woman to become an MP – responded to a comment piece which suggested that Irish, Jewish and Traveller people all suffer from racism in the UK.
She said: “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.”
But she withdrew her remarks hours after they prompted widespread condemnation.
Ms Abbott said on Sunday: “I am writing regarding my letter that was recently published in the Observer. I wish to wholly and unreservedly withdraw my written remarks and disassociate myself from them.
“The errors arose in an initial draft being sent. But there is no excuse and I wish to apologise for any anguish caused.
“Racism takes many forms and it is completely undeniable that Jewish people have suffered its monstrous effects, as have Irish people, travellers and many others.
“Once again, I would like to apologise publicly for the remarks and any distress caused as a result of them.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer yesterday condemned Ms Abbott’s comments as “antisemitic” and said they will never be accepted in the party.
He would not say if Ms Abbott should not stand again for her London constituency at the next general election, stating: “There’s an investigation in place, I’ve got to let that investigation be completed.”
Speaking after a round-table event in south-east London about violence against women and girls, Sir Keir said: “In my view what she said was to be condemned, it was antisemitic.”
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