Diane Abbott might now be allowed to stand as a Labour MP, but the damage is done – and it’s deep | Andy Beckett

Diane Abbott might now be allowed to stand as a Labour MP, but the damage is done – and it’s deep | Andy Beckett

Keir Starmer will need broad support to undertake a ‘decade of renewal’ in office. This sordid episode suggests he won’t have it

It’s not every day that you see Keir Starmer’s increasingly ruthless electoral machine in a state of confusion and disarray. But its chaotic approach this week to the question of whether Diane Abbott, a Labour MP for the past 37 years with one of the biggest majorities in the country, could stand in the general election – a question seemingly finally resolved on Friday by Starmer saying that she was “free to go forward as a Labour candidate” – has been very revealing about the condition of the party and of our wider politics.

The whole messy episode could be significant in the election, but also in the longer story of the Labour party and its fractious but pivotal relationships with the left, London and Black Britain. If those relationships with three of Labour’s traditionally strongest bases of support break down – and this week considerable damage has been done – then it may become much harder for it to gain and hold on to power, and for these millions of voters to be properly represented in parliament. Abbott’s ordeal, and her apparent survival of it, matter to many more people than her angry, baffled and now relieved constituents in Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

Andy Beckett is a Guardian columnist. His book on Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left since the 1960s, The Searchers: Five Rebels, Their Dream of a Different Britain, and Their Many Enemies, is out now

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