British left-wing Labour Party politician, shadow home secretary from 2016. Positioned on the left wing of the party, she criticized Tony Blair's 1997–2007 ‘New Labour’ government for abandoning traditional socialist policies, taking military action in Iraq in 2003, and counterterrorism proposals in 2008. She contested unsuccessfully for the party's leadership after Labour's defeat in the May 2010 general election, but served under the party's new leader, Ed Miliband, as shadow minister for public health. After the left-wing Jeremy Corbyn became party leader in September 2015, she became shadow international development secretary (2015–16), shadow heath secretary (2015–16), and shadow home secretary, from October 2016.
A member of the Labour Party from 1971, Abbott's political career began when she was elected to Westminster City Council in 1982 (until 1986). She also served as a press officer at the Greater London Council and as head of Lambeth Council's press office before her election as a member of Parliament in 1987, representing the London constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington. She was the first woman from an African Caribbean background to be elected to Parliament.
She was a member of the Labour Party National Executive Committee 1994–97; served on the Commons treasury and civil service select committee 1989–97; and on the foreign affairs select committee 1997–2001. She also continued her media career as a political commentator on television and as a newspaper columnist. In 2015 she unsuccessfully sought to become Labour's candidate in the 2015 London mayoral election.
Born in London to Jamaican parents, she gained a masters degree in history at Cambridge University. She then worked as an administrative trainee at the Home Office 1976–78 and as race relations officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties 1978–80 before taking up a career in journalism as a television researcher and reporter. In 2000 she became a member of the Greater London Assembly advisory cabinet for women and equality. She attracted criticism when she sent her son to private school in 2003, in the light of her previous opposition to fee-paying education.