The tragedy of Diane Abbott: mystery illness keeps her from supporting either her leader or her voters

DIANE ABBOTT , the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, campaigning © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
Formidable: Diane Abbott campaigning in Stoke Newington

UPDATE 140617: Diane Abbott reveals that type 2 diabetes has been badly affecting her performance in media interviews. She says she has had “a great memory for figures” since childhood, and is now  “ready to return to work”

POOR DIANE ABBOTT. She voted to keep Britain in the EU in the national referendum but weeks later was confronted with a terrible dilemma. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn came out in support of the Government’s attempt to get to the first stage of the UK’s departure from the EU: his MPs should vote with the Tories. As for shadow Cabinet members, if they did not back the Brexit option they would be sacked.

As the formidable long-serving member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, would Abbott support her constituents? The overwhelming majority voted “Remain” but she likes being shadow home secretary.

So strong is her loyalty to Corbyn, however, that she immediately went on a quick tour of broadcast studios to make an about-turn by saying that MPs should vote in line with what the overwhelming majority off the British people had expressed: Brexit.

© Gabe TRODD
This train aint bound for glory: the MP takes control

Then tragedy struck. Even as a @HackneyAbbott puff appeared on Twitter at about 6pm for her latest Morning Star article (on social divisiveness), illness struck down the usually formidable Abbott (she once put herself up to lead Labour).

Her office did not reveal the sickness’s nature but it was apparently so severe that she was unable to vote, either with Prime Minister Theresa May or in defiance of PM wannabe Corbyn. Taxi! At 5pm she had to rush home to Hackney. Her absence when the vote was taken meant she was recorded as an abstainer.

To think, that only a short time earlier she was filmed looking fit, loud and lively (if still struggling with the hip-hop hand-gesturing she has lately adopted). Her local colleague, the Hackney South and Shoreditch member Meg Hillier, defied the Labour whips to vote against the Tories.

In a summer 2015 tweet @HackneyAbbott admonished fellow MPs: “We weren’t sent to Parliament to abstain.”

One definition of tragedy is “the unfortunate aspect of something”. For Hackney, this has been tragic and unfortunate.

David Altheer 020117

* Backstory: Whoops! Abbott slips up in leadership bid; Diane takes the train 

Main pictures © David.Altheer [at] gmail.com, and  for sale for reproduction. Most photographs are available in bigger formats. Other pic © Gabe Trodd

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