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  • Kara Hall

Why the Conservative Party owes Diane Abbott an apology

With the Conservative Party in such a state, you would be inclined to think that, at the very least, they could avoid the days of race rows and “letterbox” comparisons. Yet the events of the last couple of weeks prove the opposite. At a time when the Tories are already facing electoral oblivion, they have chosen to defend and retain millions of pounds from a donor who suggested that the first black woman elected to parliament “should be shot”.

The comment was made by the Conservative Party’s biggest donor, Frank Hester, at a company meeting in 2019, The Guardian has revealed,  where he also told colleagues that looking at Labour MP, Diane Abbott, makes you “want to hate all black women”. As the first black woman elected to Parliament and the longest-serving black MP, Diane Abbott has been victim to an array of racially motivated attacks throughout her career. Many have targeted her appearance, questioned her levels of intelligence, and, in her own words, used “classic racist lines such as: ‘go back to where you come from’”. Comments such as these, epitomise the ignorance of racist language as it takes just one Google search to see that Abbott was born in London. For people like Frank Hester, their problem with Diane Abbott is not that she has come over and taken their jobs, it’s that she doesn’t mould into their image of what England should look like. One run by Tommy Robinson and his English Defence League disciples.

The issue with race in this country boils down to the government’s habit of brushing the problem under the carpet in hopes that the next inhabitants of Downing Street will ease the troubles. Hester’s comments have, rightfully, lit a fire under the current government, but with the Business Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, telling LBC, “We need to get to a place where we stop chasing people around and looking everywhere for the racism”, the Conservative Party has once again pulled out the broom in a last-ditch attempt to protect their image. 

“The Tory donor has made his position known that black women in power should be hated”

Not only did Hester state that looking at Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women,” he went further to suggest that “she’s consuming resources. She’s eating food that other people could eat.” The Tory donor has made his position known that black women in power should be hated and has used Abbott’s controversial past as a means of pushing his racially motivated agenda.

Ms Abbott’s political career has included numerous stints as a shadow minister, as well as an unsuccessful bid for Mayor of London in 2016. In August 2023, she was suspended over a controversial letter she wrote to The Observer in which she suggested that Jewish, Irish and Traveller communities had not suffered the same racism as black people. Her comments were later retracted and widely disputed by her supporters. Abbott received an overwhelming level of backlash from her party, with Sir Keir Starmer labelling the contents of the letter as “antisemitic” and “shocking.” With “no choice” but to suspend the whip from Diane Abbott, she no longer represents Labour in Parliament but has retained her seat as an independent MP, as well as her Labour Party membership. 

However, Labour has rallied around Diane Abbott amidst this latest race row initiated by Hester. Starmer hit out at Rishi Sunak, asking the Conservative Party leader how he felt about his party being “bankrolled” by someone who uses racist language. Downing Street later released a statement calling the alleged comments “racist and wrong,” although many members of the Tory party have downplayed the incident.

The Labour Party have called on the Tory government to return the £10 million Hester donated to the party in the last year with allegations coming to light that the businessman has donated a further £5 million. Rishi is under renewed pressure now with the upcoming General Election. In Diane Abbot’s words, “the only card the Tories have left to play is the race card, and they are going to play it ruthlessly.”

Images: (left) Flickr | UK Parliament; (right) Wikimedia Commons



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