In 1987 Diane Abbott made history by becoming the first black woman ever elected to the British Parliament. She has since built a distinguished career as a parliamentarian, broadcaster and commentator.
In the Beginning
Diane was born in London in 1953. She attended the grammar school Harrow County and then went on to Newnham College Cambridge where she obtained a Masters degree in history.
When she left Cambridge University Diane joined Government as a Home Office Civil Servant. She went on to work for the lobby group the National Council for Civil Liberties, then she became a journalist. She worked extensively as a freelancer and she went on to work as a reporter for the breakfast television company TV-AM and Thames Television. And she also worked as a public relations consultant for various public sector clients.
Diane is founder of the London Schools and the Black Child initiative, which aims to raise educational achievement levels amongst Black children. She hosts an annual conference for educators, children and their parents and an annual academic awards ceremony.
In 2008 Diane was awarded the Spectator/Threadneedle Speech of the Year Award and a Human Rights Award from Liberty.
In May 2010 Diane was re-elected in her constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington, and doubled her majority on an increased turn-out. In June 2010, she made the ballot for the Labour leadership contest and took part in the summer long campaign to elect the next Labour leader. Although her campaign did not yield the leadership position, she was nonetheless propelled to the front benches as shadow Public Health Minister.
In May 2015 she was re-elected in Hackney North and Stoke Newington with an improved
majority of over 24,000 votes.
Diane was appointed the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development in September 2015.
Diane has served on a number of parliamentary committees on social and international issues. She was also elected on to the National Executive of the Labour Party. For most of the 1990's she also served on the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons. This is the committee which deals with business and finance matters. As a member of this committee Diane traveled frequently to Washington DC, New York, Frankfurt and other financial centres. She met with senior politicians, bankers and financial regulators internationally and she helped to author a series of official reports on issues such as Britain's entry into the Euro. She went on to serve on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. As a member of that committee she traveled to Kenya, Uganda, China, Hong Kong and many countries in Europe. She took a particular interest in human rights. Most recently she has set up a special parliamentary committee investigating gun crime.
In the Public Eye
Diane is an experienced public speaker and broadcaster. She has spoken at colleges and universities all over the United States including Ivy League universities like Harvard. She also appears regularly on radio and television and until recently, appeared weekly on the BBC1 late night political discussion show, This Week with Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo.