Diane Abbott MP at the Mile End Institute
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott MP has said that people should judge Jeremy Corbyn in six months, by which time she expects Labour’s poor poll ratings to have improved.
Ms Abbott said in December 2016 that she expected Mr Corbyn to close the gap on Theresa May in 12 months. Speaking to Professor Philip Cowley at the Mile End Institute, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), she blamed Mr Corbyn’s poor ratings on his treatment by the media and colleagues in the Labour Party.
“The way the media treated Jeremy was just extraordinary. Add insult to injury of at least a year when Labour MPs were in the media, day after day, saying he was completely unelectable,” she said.
Ms Abbott criticised the idea that Labour must move right on immigration to win back support outside of London.
“Since 2010 there’s been a wing in the Labour Party that believes the answer to winning back support in post-Industrial Britain is to move right on immigration. The problem with pandering to people’s fears around migration is that it’s a loser’s game….anti-immigrant politics is a dead end for the Labour Party,” said Ms Abbott.
Ms Abbott was elected to the House of Commons in 1987 and was the first black woman to serve in Parliament.
“We still live in a society where if you’re a black woman and you walk into a meeting, people are more likely to think you’ve come to serve the tea than to think you’re a professional coming to take part in the meeting,” said Ms Abbott.
She described her best moment in politics as the “resounding” Labour victory in 1997. She said her worst moment came a few years ago, when she came close to stepping down due to personal attacks and being “hounded in the media”.
“I had just had enough. Just had enough. I thought, ‘I can’t take this anymore, I am sick of this, people just think they can say what they like, the media are hounding me and I rang up one of the people I came into parliament with, Keith Vaz, who is extremely resilient in his own way because he has quite an interesting private life … and I said, ‘enough I’m going to step down’, and Keith said, ‘Diane, you have forgotten what it took for us to get here, you’re not standing down’.”
Image credit: Nick Barlow