Diane Abbott, the former Labour MP and long-term ally of Jeremy Corbyn, has stepped in to defend the London Tube driver that declared his allegiance to Palestine over the tannoy of the train he was operating on Saturday.
The driver led chants of “free, free Palestine” and referred to “the ongoing occupation” by Israel.
He told Central Line passengers: “As I feel a part of it, although I can’t be there, if you could kindly join me as we proceed towards Bond Street, and just to warm you guys up, here we go: Free, free… [passengers could be heard responding: “Palestine”].”
He also orchestrated “no justice, no peace” chants, which are synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Emboldened, the driver continued the pro-Palestinian chanting, encouraging passengers to be “louder”.
He finished his performance by telling those aboard the train: “Hope you all have a blessed day today and look after yourselves.”
He added: “Keep all those people in your prayers.” However it’s not clear whether he was referring to Israeli hostages taken by Hamas, the families of Israelis killed by the same terrorists, the Palestinian civilians in Gaza fearful of being bombed and invaded, or all of the above.
The driver has since been suspended by Transport for London (TfL) pending a further investigation.
TfL’s chief operating officer, Glynn Barton, said: “We have been urgently and thoroughly investigating the footage appearing to show a Tube driver misusing the PA system and leading chants on a Central Line train on Saturday.
“A driver has now been identified and suspended whilst we continue to fully investigate the incident in line with our policies and procedures.”
Ms Abbott, who earlier this year wrote that Jews don’t experience racism but rather “prejudice” akin to the experience of “redheads”, before retracting the statement, took to X to argue that the tube driver in question would not have been suspended if he was backing Ukraine.
The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington said: “Tube driver who led chant of ‘free, free Palestine’ on an Underground train is suspended. Would this have happened if he was chanting “Free Ukraine” ?”
Ms Abbott was roundly condemned by X users.
David Cameron’s former deputy head of the Number 10 Policy Unit, scolded the indepedent MP, saying: “This isn’t about geopolitics. It’s about how Jewish Londoners feel. The idea that anyone living in London will legitimately feel frightened if a Tube driver chanted “Free Ukraine” is bonkers. But let’s stick to the basics.
“Tube drivers drive trains. They don’t impose their political views on passengers whatever they might be.”
Another X user weighed in, saying: “Well I didn’t see any videos of Ukrainian civilians celebrating, cheering and spitting on dead bodies of women that were being paraded around their cities by Terrorists after they just massacred them at a music festival, did you? Palestinians did tho.”