Diane Abbott: ‘The Person They’re Abusing Is A Figment Of Their Imagination’

This feature references misogyny and racism.

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has described comments allegedly made about Labour MP Diane Abbott as “racist and wrong”. The comments in question were reportedly made by a Conservative Party donor, Frank Hester. As per a The Guardian report, during a 2019 meeting, Hester said, “It’s like trying not to be racist, but you see Diane Abbott on the TV, and you’re just like I hate, you just want to hate all black women because she’s there, and I don’t hate all black women at all, but I think she should be shot.”

Abbott, currently suspended from sitting as a Labour MP, described the comments as “frightening”, adding that “The fact that two MPs [Jo Cox in 2016; Sir David Amess in 2021] have been murdered in recent years makes talk like this all the more alarming.”

In a social media post, Hester said he was deeply sorry for his remarks. He described his view that “hatred of others based on race, religion, gender, sexuality or geography is odious and disgusting and that racism – in particular – is a poison that has no place in public life.”

Here, GLAMOUR revisits Chloe Laws’ interview with Diane, where she discusses misogynoir, institutionalised racism, and her advice for women interested in entering politics.

Diane Abbott has been a staple figure in British politics for over three decades, becoming the first Black woman ever to be elected into British Parliament, in 1987. She is now the longest-serving Black MP, serving Hackney North and Stoke Newington since she was first elected. Throughout this time, she has been subjected to racist and sexist abuse, thrown at her from every angle; from within her own party, from the opposition party, the media, the public, and more recently, from online trolls.

And despite this, she’s persisted – staying strong in her beliefs and working within her community and party to “give a voice to those who might otherwise not have one”. And soon she’ll be sharing her experiences in a book, as it’s just been announced by Penguin that they will be publishing her memoir, A Woman Like Me, in 2022.

I’ve watched her career closely. As a Hackney-born resident, she’s been the only MP I’ve ever voted for. There’s always been a disconnect for me, seeing how well-regarded she is in my community and the positive influence her relentless campaigning has had on the lives of ethnic minorities and immigrants locally. Every time she’s been reelected, it’s been a landslide win, like in 2017, when she gained 70.3% of the votes. Yet, in the press and in public life, she’s been belittled, vilified, and bullied. The reason, I feel, is clear but uncomfortable for many to swallow – it’s because she’s Black and a woman. It’s a conversation that’s come to the forefront of Britain’s minds this week, with the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Oprah interview – which Diane spoke about on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “They clearly very soon did not welcome a mixed-race woman marrying into the Royal Family.”

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