Diane Abbott: Hackney protests against racism

by Brian Debus, Hackney and Islington Socialist Party

There was a mass outpouring of support for Diane Abbott at a community rally in Hackney Town Hall Square on Friday 15 March. The protest followed disgusting, racist, misogynistic comments about her made by Tory business donor Frank Hester.

To symbolise the number of times the Speaker of the House of Commons ignored Diane as she tried to speak at Prime Minister’s questions, 47 supporters held up “I stand with Diane” placards.

A constant stream of supporters came into the square for well over an hour, swelling the ranks of the hundreds already there to over a thousand.

Protest in support of Diane Abbot
Protest in support of Diane Abbott.
Photo: Brian Debus

There were intermittent energetic chants of “I stand with Diane”, which became deafening when Diane spoke. She gave a very emotional speech about her mother coming to the UK in the fifties to work in the health service and the racism that pervaded society then.

The massive support from the crowd clearly affected and impressed Diane and she expressed her gratitude for this to the rally organisers and the community of Hackney.

When this story first broke, it took Sunak 24 hours to condemn Hester’s comments as racist. This reflects the continued reluctance of the Tories to return any of the £15 million he has donated to them.

The way it has been dealt with is a further indication of the desperate straits that the Tories are in politically and financially.

The actions of Labour leader Keir Starmer and his coterie leave almost as much to be questioned. Diane was suspended from the Labour Party for 12 months and there are no immediate signs of this being lifted. Meanwhile, her Constituency Labour Party, Hackney North, had three of its elected officers undemocratically removed, replaced by pro-Starmer figures.

Both the Tories and Labour are in hock to the interests of capitalist big business and not those of the working class. We need a new mass workers’ party to fight in our interests.

Jeremy Corbyn is likely to stand independently of Labour in the general election, and could be joined by Diane, unless the current suspension is lifted. They could be part of a wider workers’ list of anti-cuts and anti-war candidates. If Diane and Jeremy were to make steps in that direction now it would draw support from tens of thousands, and could be an important step in the direction of a new mass party of the working class.

We can challenge Sunak and Starmer and the racist ideas of capitalism. Help us send a clear message: No more cuts, no more war, end racism!

Help fund an anti-racist, working-class, socialist election stand

by Isai Marijerla, Socialist Party national treasurer

“They have all lost my vote!” These were the words of the retired NHS worker from the Windrush generation outside Hackney Town Hall on Friday 15 March. He, like the thousands of people at the protest, came to show solidarity with Diane Abbott and to fight against racism.

The racist Tory business donor has highlighted again the rotten racism that exists in the Tory Party. We all know that the Tories are no friends of the working class of any background. All they care about is money and further profits. This is shown by their refusal to give the £15 million money back.

But for the people who attended the solidarity rally, there was also anger at Sir Keir Starmer and his Labour Party. Diane Abbott has been systematically targeted by Starmer for her support for Jeremy Corbyn and the manifesto he stood for. Starmer is still refusing to restore the whip because she is on the left.

It is becoming crystal clear that the Tories, Labour, or any other party that defends the capitalist profit system, are not going to fight against racism or fight for ordinary people. We need socialist working-class candidates to challenge the capitalist system that is breeding racism. The Socialist Party has been campaigning to get both Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn to lead the movement for a new mass workers’ party. A party that will provide a decent life and livelihood for all and fight against racism and all oppression in society.

As a step in that direction, the Socialist Party is planning to stand anti-cuts, anti-racist, and anti-war candidates in the general election. But standing in the election costs money. For every candidate, we need a £500 deposit. Please donate to us today to support this campaign.

We can challenge Sunak and Starmer and the racist ideas of capitalism. Help us send a clear message: No more cuts, no more war, end racism!

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