In Starmer’s Labour, Only ‘Zionist Shitlords’ Are Welcome

Buckle up, folks.

by Aaron Bastani

29 May 2024

Posters supporting Diane Abbott, who has been barred from standing for Labour at the next general election. Thomas Krych/Reuters

The verdict is in: Diane Abbott will be blocked from standing for the Labour party at the forthcoming election. Could the former shadow home secretary be replaced by a man who describes himself as a “zionist shitlord”? Maybe. Because Labour really is that weird now.

Abbott has been an MP since 1987, making her one of Westinster’s longest serving parliamentarians. While she was Britain’s first black female MP, she was for much of her career better known to the public through her weekly appearances alongside Michael Portillo and Andrew Neil on the BBC’s ‘This Week’.

But then something strange happened: the British left achieved a modicum of power. And so national treasure in waiting, along with Westminster’s resident niceguy (Jeremy ‘allotment-man’ Corbyn) were demonised faster than you can say ‘red scare’.

Both Abbott and Corbyn have lost the whip at different points during Starmer’s leadership. Last week, it was confirmed that Corbyn would not have the option of contesting his Islington seat as a Labour candidate. Abbott has now seemingly met the same fate.

Yesterday, Newsnight’s Victoria Derbyshire broke the news that Abbott’s disciplinary process was settled late last year. Labour subsequently briefed the media that the whip had finally been restored to the Hackney MP. But this, apparently, is a temporary dispensation, and Abbott won’t be allowed to stand again for Labour under any circumstances.

Speaking on Newsnight, the BBC’s Nick Watt described how sources close to Starmer described Abbott as an “icon”, but said she couldn’t stay in the parliamentary party. Why? Because she’s associated with the failure of 2019. This would make more sense if Starmer hadn’t also been a leading Labour light that year, or the party hadn’t recorded a higher share of the vote than in either 2010 or 2015 (Ed Miliband is in Starmer’s shadow cabinet too, remember).

Watt added how his source claimed Abbott “comes up on the doorstep”. While that’s hard to believe, if it’s accurate, then why is her case any different to that of Liam Byrne – who famously left a note to his Tory successor in 2010 claiming there was no money left? Rightwing rent-a-gobs still bang on about that 14 years later.

And here’s the most important part. As recently as last Friday, Starmer told the BBC that Abbott was “going through, and being part of, and getting to the end of … a disciplinary process because of something she has said”. Yet we now know that this process didn’t end last week, but six months ago. So either Starmer didn’t know it had been completed or – more likely – he lied. The latter appears to be something of a habit.

This charade is made all the more grotesque by the fact that Labour, in response to the news that Tory donor Frank Hester said Abbott “should be shot”, sent a fundraising email asking for money. Trying to profit from someone else’s misery – which you soon intend to compound – would seem deeply dishonourable to any normal person. But then again, ‘honourable’ isn’t a word you’d associate with the permanent political class.

Who might Labour seek to replace Abbott? One option would be Mete Coban – a councillor so relentlessly committed to Hackney he recently tried his luck in Kensington. Anntoinette Bramble and Sem Moema are two other names who have been mentioned.

But I’d expect many more to be interested. After all, Hackney North and Stoke Newington has a large majority, is a short distance from the Houses of Parliament and – let’s be brutally honest – has some of the best restaurants and bars in the country. The natural wines at Cadet are a must. Or so I’m told.

One person who may be eyeing up the seat is Luke ‘the Nuke’ Akehurst. After all, he previously lived in Hackney for 16 years, serving as a councillor for 12 of them. Could one of the great civil libertarians of recent years be replaced by someone who thinks the good guys in the Vietnam War were… the Americans? That would certainly say something about the direction of British politics.

The article was adapted from our newsletter The Cortado. For more general election analysis straight into your inbox, click here.

Aaron Bastani is a Novara Media contributing editor and co-founder.

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