Abbott tells rally: ‘I’m moved by your support’

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the rally Pic: Rebekah Cowan

Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn both addressed a rally of more than 1,000 supporters at Hackney Town Hall following the comments made by the Conservative Party’s biggest donor.

The rally followed the comments, considered racist and misogynistic, made by Frank Hester, chief executive of The Phoneix Partnership, about the independent MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. The crowd of supporters and community groups showed their disapproval of the comments and wider mistreatment of black women in the public sphere.

The Guardian reported that Hester told a meeting in 2019 that after seeing Abbott on TV made “you want to hate all black women” and she “should be shot”. The Conservative Party has rejected calls to return funds from Hester, who has donated more than £15M.

At the rally, supporters loudly displayed their displeasure with Parliament and the British establishment’s treatment of Abbott, chanting “We stand with Diane!” and “If you mess with Diane Abbott, you mess with us!” Chants calling for the Labour whip to be reinstated to Abbott were also be heard across the assembly. She had the Labour whip removed last year following comments in the Observer, but later apologised.

Abbott said she was “moved” by the support. “I want to say thank you. It is the Hackney people who have stood by me year after year, decade after decade”

She told the audience “We have to stand firm. We have to make sure that for generations of young black people, they don’t have to suffer the racism that we had to suffer.”

Jeremy Corbyn, former leader of the Labour Party who now sits as an Independent described the event as a “rally of unity” and said that he had been “proud to appoint [ Abbott] as the Shadow Home Secretary”

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