‘Jubilee’ celebrations at Goldsmiths to honour Hackney MP Diane Abbott’s 25 years in Parliament

Pic: Diane Abbott

“All people must be conscious that cuts don’t hit black people and young women unfairly,” Dianne Abbott told EastLondonLines today at an event that celebrated her 25 years as an MP.

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and shadow minister for Public Health, attended the all day event, ‘A Jubilee of a Different Kind’, which took place at Goldsmiths, University of London in New Cross.

In 1987 Abbott became the first black woman in Britain to be elected as an MP.

Abbott has worked as a parliamentarian, broadcaster and commentator throughout her career.  She has been the subject of expenses scandals and Twitter rows.

In May 2010 Diane was re-elected in her constituency and doubled her majority on an increased turnout. In June 2010, she ran in the Labour leadership contest and took part in the summer long campaign to elect the next Labour leader.

Today’s celebration event, dubbed ‘D-Day’, included a series of discussions, readings and live performances that aimed to examine: “How positively modern Britain’s migratory heritage has transformed the nation, covering journalism, education, politics and the arts”.

EastLondonLines’ reporters Joanna Kindeberg and Jo Abbas interviewed Abbott on the day:

ELL: What are they key changes you’ve seen for black people and women over the past 25 years?

DA: “Well there are many more women and black people in parliament. Which is something. I think you see many more women and black people in managerial type roles and the professions. But the worry is, with austerity we are going to go backwards and losing some of the progress we’ve made.”

ELL: What needs to change now?

DA: “I think first of all people need to be conscious that, were they  making cuts, in services or cuts in jobs, that it doesn’t hit black people and women unfairly. The second thing is that younger women need to prepare to step forward and get involved  and not take for granted the gains of the past 25 years.”

ELL: What are you personally campaigning for at the moment?

DA: “There is a very big push to reduce the time limit for abortions and make it harder to access abortions and that is the thing I am currently campaigning about. I am also interested in education, particularly black boys and education. I am also interested in international affairs and trying to support the left internationally.”

ELL: What do you fear most about changes in NHS, particularly in Hackney and your constituency?

DA: ”There are going to be cuts, there is going to be reorganization and local people are going to lose jobs and local people are going to lose services and I don’t think this government cares.”

ELL: What does the future for you hold?

DA: “Another 25 years I think!”

Looking back on Abbott’s career as the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington EastLondonLines has put together a collection of past articles covering her involvement with issues affecting local people.

October 2009 – Abbott joins in protest outside Hackney Town Hall opposing privatization of GPs

May 2010 – Abbott runs for leadership of the Labour Party.

October 2010- Abbott selected to be part of the shadow cabinet by Ed Miliband, together with Hackney North MP Meg Hillier.

October 2010- Abbott says Hackney residents will get the least Olympic jobs.

November 2010- Abbott comments on the involvement of Goldsmiths and Queen Mary in protest against raised tuition fees.

January 2011- First MP in ‘Come Dine With Me’.

February 2011- Abbott ranked the ninth most influential MP in UK on Twitter.

February 2011- Abbott speaks out against coalition government over alcohol policy.

November 2011- Abbott supports Centerprise bookshop.

November 2011- Abbott opposes plans to build a new Sainsbury’s in Stoke Newington.

January 2012- Abbott issues public apology following anger over “racist” Twitter comments.

January 2012- Abbott quits group over controversial plan for abortion providers.

January 2012- Abbott comments on empty town centre shops in Hackney .

January 2012- Abbott reacts to drop in number of university applications.

 March 2012- Abbott comments on the NHS bill debate.

May 2012- Abbott calls for enquiry together with Meg Hillier about polling stations closing early.

‘D-Day’ was organised by Dr Deirdre Osborne from Goldsmiths’ Department of Theatre and Performance.

A blog about the event can be found here.


By Jo Abbas and Joanna Kindeberg

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