Diane Julie Abbott (born 27 September 1953) is a British politician serving as the Shadow Home Secretary in the Shadow Cabinet of Jeremy Corbyn since 2016, and who has served as Member of Parliament (MP) 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 woman MP and is the longest serving black MP in the House of Commons.
Born in Paddington to a working-class British Jamaican family, Abbott studied History at Newnham College, Cambridge University. 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, and 2017 general elections, although she received a great deal of sexist and racist harassment, including death threats. Critical of Tony Blair’s New Labour project which pushed the party to the centre during the 1990s, in the House of Commons she 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.