Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Diane Abbott attacks racism in politics after donor row


  • Written by Paul Seddon and Gemma Crowe
  • Political correspondent, BBC News

Video explanation,

Watch: Abbott stood up to try to get the speaker's attention 46 times

Diane Abbott has spoken out about racism in politics, a day after she was denied the chance to take part in a Commons debate over criticism of her by a Conservative donor.

Frank Hester reportedly said that the deputy made him want to “hate all black women” and that she “should be shot.”

Ms Abbott said she was “disturbed” by the comments but had been “subjected to racist abuse”.

The Prime Minister said Mr Hester had apologized and his “remorse must be accepted”.

It sparked a row over whether he should return the £10m Mr Hester donated to the Conservative Party, something he said he would not do.

in Article for The Guardian newspaperAbbott criticized the Conservatives, saying policies such as Rwanda's deportation plan show they intend to play the “race card” as the next election approaches.

But she also criticized the Labor Party, stressing that “racism in politics is not just an issue for any particular political party.”

The article was published a day after Ms Abbott tried unsuccessfully more than 40 times to get the Speaker's attention so she could contribute to Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, which was dominated by discord.

The Speaker's spokesman, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, said there was “not enough time” to contact all the MPs who wanted to speak.

Abbott is an independent MP after she was suspended by the Labor Party in April last year after she wrote in the Observer newspaper that Irish, Jews and Travelers had not been subjected to racism “in their entire lives”.

She withdrew her statements and apologized “for any suffering caused.”

In her article in The Guardian, she said she had become “hardened in the face of racist abuse,” and wrote about her experience receiving abusive messages and calls every month.

She criticized the Conservatives for their policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, and accused the party of using the term extremists as a “code word for Muslims.”

Image source, Getty Images

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Ms Abbott spoke outside Downing Street at an anti-racism protest in August

She added that the Conservatives were “desperate” ahead of the general election, saying the Truss government had reduced their ability to campaign around “managing the economy”.

“So the only card left for conservatives to play is the race card, and they will play it mercilessly,” she said.

But Ms Abbott also warned Labor against “stepping up to challenge racism”, claiming the party had failed to apologize to her for the content of WhatsApp messages previously sent about her by some Labor officials, which a Martin Ford KC report found were, “consciously or unconsciously”. , derived from racist tropes.

She added: “Unfortunately, racism in politics is not an issue for any particular political party.”

Ms Abbott remains under investigation by Labor over her letter, but she said in her column on Thursday that it would be “sad and strange” if party leader Sir Keir Starmer removed her over it.

She is understood to have asked Sir Keir to readmit her to the parliamentary Labor Party, when he asked if there was anything he could do.

The Labor Party did not respond to a request for comment.

The dispute over Hester's refund began on Monday, when The Guardian reported that Mr Hester said in 2019: “It's like trying not to be racist, but you see Diane Abbott on TV, and you're just like I hate, you just want to hate all black women.” “Because she exists, and I don't hate all black women at all, but I think she should be shot.”

Hester, who runs a health technology company based in Leeds, admitted making “rude” comments about her and apologized for them.

But he insisted that his comments had “nothing to do with her gender or the color of her skin.”

The BBC did not hear any recording, and was unable to independently verify the alleged statements. Mr Hester was asked whether the reported comments were accurate.

Mr Sunak did not initially describe the alleged comments as racist after they were first reported, but he did so on Tuesday evening.

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