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Opinion

Abused and silenced

14 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott Image by Dominc Lipinski/PA Images

Ben Wildsmith

It’s long been my practice on social media to block anyone I see abusing Diane Abbott.

As a guide to character, the way people react to her is an infallible test. Because we all know that she’s routinely abused, don’t we?

Her appearance, intelligence, and integrity are dragged through the sludge on Facebook and X for anyone to see.

It’s not unusual to hear her denigrated in real life, either.

Bottom-feeders all over the UK sense that the usual social constraints on their repugnant utterances have somehow been lifted when it comes to Ms. Abbott.

We remember all this from school. The hollow, spindly-souled bully’s mates who viewed vulnerability and isolation as an invitation to terrorise.

They didn’t all grow up, it seems.

There’s no point arguing with them. Like a pigeon playing chess, they shit all over the board and then claim they’ve won.

Abuse

Every disputable thing Ms. Abbott has ever said about race is held up as evidence of anti-white racism; an offence, they imagine, that justifies their hatred.

Ms. Abbott receives more abuse online and in the post than the other 649 MPs combined.

As the first female, black MP she sat literally alone through the early part of her parliamentary career.

On matters of race, she is admirably uncompromising and her early advocacy for meaningful anti-racist practice in British life was necessary and prescient.

Much that she championed is now standard in organisations across the country.

If her statements were sometimes problematic, then good! The UK, in all its post-imperial denial was long overdue a voice that cared less for its fragility than its dignity.

Failed state

It’s a mug’s game predicting anything in a failed state, but I’d bet long that history will treat Ms. Abbott far more kindly than that to which she must, sadly, have grown accustomed.

Her future prospects are certainly rosier than anyone’s inside the Conservative Party.

It now seems to have arrived at the bowel-evacuation stage of active dying and nobody seems keen to mop up after it any more.

Watching Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Mel Stride, attempt to order the nation to ‘move on’ from Frank Hester’s comments about Ms. Abbott was to witness King Canute resurrected.

Move on? If anyone’s ‘moving on’, it’s your lot, pal.

The lack of ethics or personal morality is a given, we’re used to it. What continues to astound in Sunak’s party is the staggering incompetence.

Violence

Hester’s remarks were so overtly racist, and so shocking in their violence it is baffling how professional politicians could not see the catastrophic results of failing to exclude him and his money from their party.

One after another appeared on camera to say that the remarks were ‘wrong’ but refuse to call them racist.

Even the quietly racist voters they imagine might support them like an element of deniability to their racism.

How many people do they think approve of exhortations to kill?

Enough, it seems, to grub a few votes from Reform UK and keep some of them in parliament.

In terms of the wider electorate, they’ve plainly given up. It makes you wonder what they need Frank Hester’s millions for.

Dysfunction

Lest we imagine that dysfunction ends at the Tory wake, the Speaker Lindsay Hoyle relied on his now familiar political instincts to refuse Ms. Abbott an opportunity to speak at PMQs.

Fresh from shutting down the SNP on Gaza the other week, he failed to platform Ms. Abbott when democracy demanded that she, and particularly she, be heard.

The absence of her voice this afternoon was palpable.

Her reaction to Hester’s remarks was a reminder of the very human impact of behaviour like his.

She admitted to being ‘frightened’ and pointed out that she was single, underscoring her vulnerability.

It is shameful that our politics are conducted in an atmosphere so toxic that she should have to remind colleagues of her very humanity.

Election time is when politicians become interested in us.

If racism forms a part of any party’s appeal to voters, we need to object immediately and loudly.

It is an encroaching menace that we must confront without hesitation.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
26 days ago

The Speaker has never earned his daily bread, what is it about the Yorkshire mafia that so lets the rest of the country down…

Diane Abbott: support friendless MPs…

Annibendod
Annibendod
26 days ago

Absolutely spot on Ben. That Diane Abbott was refused the opportunity to speak AND that the majority who did were a bunch of pontificating old white blokes, not one of whom pointed out at any time that she had not been afforded the chance to speak was reprehensible. I am beyond angry. Absolutely disgusting.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
26 days ago

In the spirit of Father Ted…Aimed at GPs in Cymru…

“I hear you’re a racist now Doctor, if not why are you dealing with Frank Hester and his racist company TPP?

Rev D.B.Rees
Rev D.B.Rees
26 days ago

Diane Abbott should have the wg hip restored immediately . We need her . She is essential fior our democracy and she should be invited at least three times on Question time in the next 4 months . What about it Tinopolis the Welsh owner ? . Diolch Dr D Ben Rees

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
26 days ago

Spot on, the treatment of Diane Abbott is generally reprehensible and made worse by the Speaker, the Tories and Labour and the fiasco they created in Westminster this week. She should be celebrated not denigrated.
To add insult to injury it’s fairly obvious the length of time the whip has been withdrawn from Diane Abbott by Starmer is of itself both vindictive and questionable.

TomTom82
TomTom82
22 days ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Diane Abbott should be celebrated? I’ve heard some stupid things in my life but this might be my new number one. Hang your head in shame.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
26 days ago

It seems budgie smuggling and Truss’ transitioning is to be left for another day, well that busted that filly’s plans…

So Alias Alias MP was reminded by Russia that Putin could take him out anytime…and Heappey quits asap…I wonder if Starmer has got anyone lined up for Alias’ job…

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