Diane Abbott accuses Keir Starmer of ‘culling Left-wingers’

Diane Abbott outside Hackney Town Hall
Diane Abbott has criticised the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer - Alishia Abodunde/Getty Images Europe

Diane Abbott has accused Sir Keir Starmer of an “appalling cull of Left-wingers” after a Labour candidate was blocked from standing for election.

Faiza Shaheen, who allegedly liked a series of posts on X, formerly Twitter, that downplayed anti-Semitism accusations, had been selected to be Labour’s candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green.

On Wednesday night, she found out that she would not be endorsed by the party. Responding to the reports, Ms Abbott wrote on X: “Appalling. Whose clever idea has it been to have a cull of Left-wingers?”

In an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight, Ms Shaheen said she was in a “state of shock”.

Faiza Shaheen on Newsnight
Faiza Shaheen allegedly liked a series of posts on X that downplayed anti-Semitism accusations - BBC

It comes after Ms Abbott, who served as shadow home secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, warned Sir Keir that she would not be “intimidated” as she vowed to remain the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

The row over her selection has thrown Labour’s campaign into turmoil this week after she claimed she had been blocked from standing a day after being given the whip back.

She was suspended from the party last April after she suggested that Jewish people did not experience racism “all their lives”. Her comments came against a backdrop of historical claims of anti-Semitism in the party – a problem Sir Keir has been keen to stamp out since he took over as leader.

Ms Abbott had the whip restored on Tuesday evening, but she told The Telegraph on Wednesday morning that she had been barred from standing as a Labour MP at the general election – something Sir Keir later denied.

On Thursday morning, Darren Jones, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, declined nine times to say whether Ms Abbott should stand for the party.

Asked whether he felt sorry for her, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Yes, I suppose I do really, because it’s unfortunate that we’re in this position after her service to her community and her country.

“But the independent complaints process in any party and in the Labour Party is independent of any politician’s status or history. Where we’ve ended up now because of this snap election is in this accelerated process.”

Asked for a personal view, he said: “That’s a question for Diane and for Diane to have that conversation with the Labour Party. It’s not for me to speak for Diane or the Labour Party.”

Asked whether Labour was “clearing house” ahead of the election, Mr Jones told Sky: “There’s always an accelerated process when a snap election is called. Because you’ve got to make sure that the candidates are sorted, all of these processes are concluded... Yes, we’re processing all of those outstanding issues.”