Diane Abbott MP. Photograph: UK Parliament/Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott celebrated an impressive 35 years in office last Saturday.

In 1987, the Labour stalwart became the first Black woman to be elected to Parliament, and is now the longest-serving MP.

Abbott is dedicated to her work representing the people of Hackney, regularly attending local demonstrations and community events.

She told the Citizen: “When I was first elected in 1987, I was the first ever Black woman MP. And for 10 years I was the only one. Now there are 11 Labour Party Black women MPs and I like to think that I blazed the trail.

“One highlight of my career was Labour actually winning the general election in 1997 after so many years of Tory rule. I would like to see a Labour government before I finally retire.”

Abbott was born in Paddington in 1953 before attending Harrow County School for Girls and Newnham College, Cambridge, where she studied history.

Throughout her career she has been a proponent of left-wing socialist politics and has been vocal about tackling racism and socioeconomic inequality in the UK.

In 2010, she made a bid for the Labour leadership, losing to Ed Miliband, who then appointed her Shadow Minister for Public Health. From 2016 to 2020 she was the Shadow Home Secretary in Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet after supporting his leadership bid.

Abbott’s tenure in the Commons has not been without its struggles. She has regularly found herself on the receiving end of heavy criticism and online abuse.

In a Guardian article in February 2017, Abbott spoke about receiving racist and sexist abuse, including rape threats, online.

An Amnesty International report found shortly afterwards that over 45 per cent of abusive tweets directed at female MPs during the 2017 election campaign were aimed at Abbott.

Speaking to Amnesty, she said: “I welcome scrutiny, I welcome engagement and I welcome debate and that’s why I was so positive about these platforms.”

But she said much of the debate is abuse that has “no political content, which actually people wouldn’t say in a meeting or to your face”.

She added: “It’s the volume of it which makes it so debilitating, so corrosive, and so upsetting. It’s the sheer volume and the sheer level of hatred.”

Abbott’s self-penned memoir, A Woman Like Me, is set to be published in the near future.