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Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott is a British politician who served as the Shadow Home Secretary in the Shadow Cabinet of Jeremy Corbyn from 2016 to 2020.

Abbott has been the Member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987.

As a member of the Labour Party, she has held various positions in successive Shadow Cabinets; she was the country’s first black female MP and is the longest serving black MP in the House of Commons.

  • Full name: Diane Julie Abbott
  • Profession: British politician
  • Born: 27 September 1953 (age 66 years), Paddington, London
  • Spouse: David Thompson (m. 1991–1993)
  • Office: Shadow Home Secretary since 2016
  • Previous offices: Shadow Secretary of State for Health (2016–2016), MORE
  • Education: Newnham College, University of Cambridge, University of Cambridge
  • TV shows: This Week, Play It Again
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About Diane Abbott

Abbott was born on 27 September 1953 in Paddington, London, England. To a Jamaican family.

Her father was a welder and her mother was a nurse. She has stated in interviews that both of her parents left school at the age of 14.

She attended Harrow County School for Girls (a grammar school), and then Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read history achieving a lower second class degree (2:2). At Cambridge, she was tutored by historian Simon Schama.

Career

After university she became an administration trainee (a fast track route to senior positions in HM Civil Service) at the Home Office (1976 to 1978), and then a Race Relations Officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties (1978 to 1980).

Abbott was a researcher and reporter at Thames Television from 1980 to 1983 and then a researcher at the breakfast television company TV-am from 1983 to 1985.

Abbott was a press officer at the Greater London Council under Ken Livingstone from 1985 to 1986 and Head of Press and Public Relations at Lambeth Council from 1986 to 1987.

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She worked in the civil service and as a reporter for Thames Television and TV-am before becoming a press officer for the Greater London Council.

Joining Labour, she was elected to Westminster City Council in 1982 and then as an MP in 1987. She would be re-elected in the 1992, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2017 and 2019 general elections.

She has faced disproportionate sexism and racism as a public figure, individually receiving almost half of all abuse directed at women MPs in the 2017 election campaign.

Critical of Tony Blair’s New Labour project which pushed the party to the centre during the 1990s, in the House of Commons Abbott voted against several Blairite policies, including the launching of the Iraq War and the proposed introduction of ID cards.

She stood for Labour Party leader on a leftist platform in 2010, although lost to Ed Miliband, who appointed her Shadow Minister for Public Health.

Abbott supported Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to become Labour leader in 2015. After he succeeded, she became Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, then Shadow Health Secretary, and eventually Shadow Home Secretary.

As a key Corbyn ally, she supported his leftward push in the party. She unsuccessfully attempted to be the Labour candidate for the 2016 London mayoral election, and backed the unsuccessful Britain Stronger in Europe campaign to retain UK membership of the European Union.