Andy McDonald’s Labour suspension ends; when will Diane Abbott’s?

Andy McDonald: his Labour Party suspension is over. But why is it looking as though Diane Abbott will have to do a humiliating deal before her own suspension ends?

MP Andy McDonald’s suspension from the Labour Party has been ended after five months and a lengthy investigation which found that he did not break any party rules.

Mr McDonald’s party membership had been placed under “precautionary suspension” after he told a pro-Palestine rally, “We won’t rest until we have justice. Until all people, Israelis and Palestinians, between the river and the sea, can live in peaceful liberty.”

Downing Street had said, just a few hours earlier, that the chant, “From the River to the Sea, [Palestine will be free]” was “deeply offensive” to many people. But, of course, that’s not what Mr McDonald had said, as discussed by This Site, here.

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The Guardian reports that a Labour spokesperson said:

“The chief whip has today restored the Labour whip to Andy McDonald MP. This follows a full investigation by the Labour party into complaints received about public remarks that he made in October 2023.

“The investigation concluded that he had not engaged in conduct that was against the party’s rulebook but reminded him of the importance of elected representatives being mindful not only of what they say in public but how their words may be interpreted, especially in reference to controversial or emotive issues.”

But questions remain to be answered here. A “precautionary suspension” is supposed to last just three months. Why did this one continue for five? The Graun also quotes a spokesperson for left-wing campaign group Momentum, who connected the case with that of Diane Abbott, who has also been without the Labour whip – for nearly a year – and who has been the subject of much discussion this week after comments by the Conservative Party’s biggest donor, Frank Hester:

“Why has it taken nearly five months to investigate a speech at a rally? Why has Diane Abbott – a black woman Keir Starmer rightly hails as a trailblazer – been suspended for an outrageous 11 months now, with no end in sight? And why do black and brown MPs like Diane, Apsana Begum and Kate Osamor feel they suffer worse treatment than their white male counterparts?”

Senior Labour figures from across the party have called for Abbott to have the Labour whip reinstated. Harriet Harman, Ed Balls, John McDonnell and Dawn Butler believe Abbott should be readmitted to the party.

McDonald’s readmission into the party will also raise questions on the future of Osamor, who was suspended by the party in January.

These are all left-wing Labour MPs – and party leader Keir Starmer is about as right-wing as one can get. It has been suggested that he is trying to find a way to change these suspensions into removal from Parliament altogether.

This speculation is fuelled by comments like the following:

It is true that, after the Equality and Human Rights Commission investigated Labour for alleged “institutional antisemitism” (and found none), Starmer said the party leader’s office would no longer have any influence over investigations into allegations against members – a criticism that had been levelled against previous leader Jeremy Corbyn.

If Starmer is the one making decisions about Ms Abbott’s future, then he was lying with that claim.

The following suggests that Abbott may be blackmailed into quitting Parliament at the next election in return for having the whip restored until then – with right-wing cronies of Starmer queuing up to take over from her.

If that were true, it would be yet another scandal, opening Starmer’s party to renewed accusations of racism and misogyny, and This Writer would certainly agree with James Foster’s suggestion, below:

Now this information – whether it is right or wrong – is in the public domain, Starmer’s best course of action would be to restore the whip at once, in order to prevent a possible – and highly damaging – backlash.

But he seems to think he is invincible, in spite of the small army of left-wing Independent candidates springing up to take his MPs’ constituencies away from them.

Watch this space to see what happens next.

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