Shami Chakrabarti misses PLP meeting... for drink with Diane Abbott

Written by Kevin Schofield and David Singleton on 28 February 2017 in Diary

The pair were spotted having a drink in one of Westminster's most elaborately decorated venues.

Labour MPs have hit out at Shami Chakrabarti after she missed a meeting with them to have a drink just yards away with Diane Abbott.

The shadow attorney general riled many of her colleagues at the weekend by claiming that Labour had neglected constituencies like Copeland - which the Tories won in a by-election days before - for years.

Several MPs hit out at the peer at another stormy meeting of the parlimentary Labour party. Their anger intensified when a picture emerged of Baroness Chakrabarti and her shadow cabinet colleague Abbott having a drink together in the Pugin Room in the Palace of Westminster. The Pugin Room is described on Parliament's website as "the most elaborately decorated venue for hire in the House of Commons".

Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle was said to be "angry and animated" at the meeting when the photograph began circulating.

Grahame Jones, the MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn, told PoliticsHome: "It's disappointing that it appears Shami and Diane are in the Pugin Room. Shami had a lot to say at the weekend, it's a shame she didn't have a lot to say in the meeting.

"Perhaps if she had turned up she could have explained her comments. When it was revealed where she was, people felt it wasn't in order. There's a degree of frustration becuase she's not elected and she speaks like someone who is elected. She has no authority from any electorate and people feel there's a disconnect and those of us who have the views of voters to take on board and consider."

Labour MPs were already angry that Jeremy Corbyn had turned down pleas by PLP officials for him to address tonight's meeting, the first since last week's by-elections.

Former shadow cabinet member Lilian Greenwood used the meeting to list the excuses given by senior party figures - including Baroness Chakrabarti - for the Copeland defeat. In a clear reference to Corbyn, she added: "Is there anything missing from that list?"

A senior Labour source who was present in the meeting later confirmed the anger that there was towards Baroness Chakrabarti.

He said: "There was a general mood from the PLP that all members of the PLP should be out there defending the achievements of the last Labour government and defending what Labour achieved in seats such as Stoke and Copeland - that is part of what we need to be saying."


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