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Abbott: Welfare cap 'will encourage arbitrary cuts'

Former leadership contender Diane Abbott is set to be among the MPs planning to defy the Labour whips when the vote is called this afternoon.

Ms Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) said she would not support the cap because it was the wrong thing to do.

She said:

Everyone wants the welfare bill to come down because spending on welfare is the price of failure.

However, we think this cap will just encourage arbitrary cuts rather than long term policies because that will bring down welfare spending.

We know, because of research by the Chartered Institute of Housing, when they did four pilots of the cap, in Haringey only 10% of households were known to have found jobs and 50% had to get more money from the council.

It's also part of the narrative to demonise benefit claimants. I don't think we should allow George Osborne to play politics with this issue, because it is people's lives.

Asked if Labour backing the plan would open the Opposition to the same charge, Ms Abbott said: "I think there is a danger it would be seen as playing politics."

Labour MPs pay tribute to 'political giant' Tony Benn

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Abbott: Labour without unions 'is Oxford graduates'

Labour MP Diane Abbott has defended the role of trade unions in the party, claiming without them it is "a bunch of Oxford PPE [Philosophy, Politics and Economics] graduates looking for constituencies to represent."

The Agenda with Tom Bradby is on ITV at 10.35pm tonight

Get involved in the debate during the show on Twitter by using the hashtag #theagenda

Abbott: Without unions, Labour 'is Oxford graduates'

Labour MP Diane Abbott has defended the role of unions in her party, saying without them it is "a bunch of Oxford PPE [Philosophy, Politics and Economics] graduates looking for constituencies to represent."

She made the comments on The Agenda with Tom Bradby, to be shown on ITV tonight, after the party voted to amend its historic links with the unions on Saturday.

I personally, and other people will disagree with me, don't think the Labour Party should be ashamed of its historic links with working people...without its trade union links, whatever people think of particular trade unions, what is the Labour Party?

It's a bunch of Oxford PPE graduates looking for constituencies to represent.

What's the underlying anchor of it?

– Labour MP Diane Abbott, talking on The Agenda

The Agenda with Tom Bradby is on ITV at 10.35pm tonight

Get involved in the debate during the show on Twitter by using the hashtag #theagenda

Diane Abbott: Mandela was 'without bitterness'

Dianne Abbott Credit: DaybreakITV

Nelson Mandela was "absolutely without any bitterness" about the hardships he had suffered and had "tremendous personal magnetism", Britain's first black female MP told Daybreak.

Diane Abbott met Mandela shortly after his release from prison in 1990: "The extraordinary thing was that he spent 27 years in prison. He had known many of his closest colleagues murdered, tortured, also imprisoned."

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Abbott: Immigration bill is 'nasty'

Former shadow public health minister Diane Abbott dubbed new immigration legislation "a nasty little bill" and warned it would demonise British people of colour.

Some plans were already covered by British law, such as preventing illegal immigrants from getting NHS care, she told Daybreak.

"If the Government wanted to help with that it could help hospitals collect the money," she added.

Report: Diane Abbott sacked from Labour frontbench

Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott. Credit: PA/PA Wire

The Labour leader Ed Miliband has reportedly sacked former leadership challenger Diane Abbott from her position in his frontbench team as shadow public health minister.

According to the BBC, the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP said the Labour leader told her he wanted "more message discipline

Neither Labour nor Ms Abbott's office would immediately confirm or deny the report.

The BBC said that Ms Abbott had confirmed her return to the backbenches, saying: "I think Ed wanted more message discipline. I'll live. These things happen."

Abbott: Misguided Syria intervention 'has no end game'

Labour MP Diane Abbott has told Daybreak pursuit of military action against the Assad regime "runs the risk of dragging" Britain into a civil war in Syria "with no end game".

Discussing her opposition to intervention with Matt Barbet, she said: "The British public have seen this movie and they know how it ends".

The shadow health minister, though, refused to confirm reports she could resign her post if Labour leader Ed Miliband supports intervention.

Ms Abbott had earlier told the Guardian the use of military action "would put me in a very difficult position."