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

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.

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!