- Written by Gemma Crew and Helen Catt
- BBC News
The party said Diane Abbott had been suspended as a Labor MP pending an investigation into a letter she wrote about racism to the Observer.
The politician said in a letter published Sunday that “many white people with points of difference” can experience prejudice.
But she said they do not experience racism “in their entire lives”.
She later tweeted to say she was retracting her remarks and apologizing “for any distress I have caused”.
Labor said the comments were “deeply offensive and wrong”.
The BBC has contacted Ms Abbott for comment.
in the messageshe wrote that the Irish, Jews and backpackers “undoubtedly suffer from prejudice”, which she said is “akin to racism”.
She continued, “It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice.
“But they don’t experience racism throughout their lives.
“In the pre-civil rights era, America, Irish people, Jews, and backpackers weren’t 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 people who appeared to be white tied up on slave ships.”
She was responding to a comment piece In The Guardian questions the view that racism “affects only people of color”.
Abbott’s letter sparked a backlash, including from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which called it “disgraceful” and her apology “totally unconvincing”.
The group urged Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer to remove the whip.
In her apology, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington said “mistakes” had arisen in an initial draft that had been sent.
She continued, “But there is no excuse, and I wish I could apologize for any distress I have caused.
“Racism takes many forms, and it cannot be denied that the Jewish people have suffered its terrible effects, as have the Irish people, backpackers and many others.”
Dem Margaret Hodge, a Jewish Labor MP, described the letter as “deeply offensive and deeply disturbing”.
She endorsed the whip’s comment and tweeted: “No excuses, no delays.
“The comments will be investigated and suspended immediately,” he added.
The Jewish Labor Movement – an organization of pro-Labour Jewish members – said it supported “with regret” the party’s decision.
She wrote on Twitter: “Diane Abbott is one of the most respected people in the Labor Party as a campaigner who overcame racism and prejudice to become Britain’s first black woman MP.
“We must be united in our fight against racism, not divided against each other.
“The hierarchy of racism divides societies and only helps racists.”
The suspension of the whip means Mrs Abbott will not be allowed to represent Labor in the House of Commons, where she will now sit as an independent MP.
A Labor Party spokesperson said: “The Labor Party strongly condemns these statements which are deeply offensive and wrong.
“Chief Whip Suspended Work Whip From Diane Abbott Pending Investigation”.
The party declined to comment on when the investigation would begin or who would lead it.
The recent history of the Labor Party means that any comment that seems to trivialize the experiences of the Jewish people is a bad omen, especially when it comes from a prominent figure associated with the Jeremy Corbyn era.
Under his leadership, fears of rising anti-Semitism culminated in the party being investigated by the EHRC and found to have acted illegally.
Mr Corbyn remains suspended from the parliamentary party after comments he made suggesting the scale of the problem was exaggerated.
Sir Keir promised tough action to “eradicate” anti-Semitism when he becomes leader in 2020.
It took years before the European Commission of Human Rights announced in February that it was satisfied with Labor’s action on the issue.
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