By Thomas Foster
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Anti-racists rally in Hackney after Tory donor’s racist remarks about Diane Abbott

Frank Hester said looking at Diane Abbott makes you ‘want to hate all black women’
Issue 2896
a crowd shot of ant-racists at an assembly illustrating an article about Frank Hester remarks about Diane Abbott

Anti-racists held an organising assembly in the east London borough

Around 50 anti-racists came together in Hackney, east London, on Monday for an organising assembly.

Diane Abbott was billed to speak but had to cancel after top Tory donor Frank Hester’s racist remarks. It was leaked on Monday that Hester said that looking at Diane Abbott makes you “want to hate all black women”.

He also said that she “needs to be shot” and “I try not to be sexist but when I meet somebody like that”.

Hester’s vile threats meant that Abbott did not speak at the assembly for security reasons.

On top of Hester’s racism, it was also revealed he’s been plundering from the NHS. His donations to the Tory party have helped him land major NHS contracts, with the health service paying his companies more than £440 million since 2016. Hester himself has pocketed £33.5 million in dividends from the contracts.

At the assembly, Sydney Sopher from Care for Calais slammed Hester’s bigotry and described his comments as “completely disgusting”. She also attacked the government’s refugee housing plans as akin to putting people in “prison camps”.

Sydney pointed out the hypocrisy of “250,000 visas being given to Ukrainians” while refugees from elsewhere are met with repression. “It’s a racist belief that those travelling in small boats aren’t worthy to be in Britain,” she said.

 “We have a broken asylum system. Asylum seekers are being evicted with little notice—the government is intentionally making refugees homeless.”

Toufic Kacimi, a speaker from Muslim Welfare House, spoke on the Tories ramping up Islamophobia in response to the Palestine movement. “Politicians say ‘Islamists are controlling Britain’ and are coming up with a new definition of extremism,” he said.

“This is happening because the government is failing to provide solutions to the cost of living crisis. What is the best strategy? Let’s turn communities against each other and demonise minorities.

“There is always this notion. Call them Islamist, extremists or animals. They turn communities against each other so the Tories can paint themselves as the saviour, so we elect them again.

“It’s a real strategy to attack our right of demonstration, our right to say no to the government. That’s why there’s a new definition of extremism. Muslims are used as a scapegoat to justify government policy.”

Dave Davies, Hackney NEU union branch secretary spoke about how “we are in a dangerous situation where a desperate government is trying to scapegoat minorities, especially Muslims and refugees”.

“The latest Prevent guidelines say we should look at any ideology with a ‘narrative of grievance’. In other words, if you have a grievance against our system,” he said. “They are trying to cow us into submission under the guise of neutrality.”

He added, “We have an economy set up and run by the rich which provides fertile ground for racist beliefs to take root.

“The rich want us to see others at the bottom as the enemy and not the real enemy at the top of society.”

Herschel Gluck, a Hackney rabbi, blasted the recent “scare stories about no-go areas for Jews”. “Those who live in London and have open eyes know this is utter trash,” he said. “I think that I look like a visible Jew and I go to all parts of London. People are kind and hospitable.

“Those who live in Westminster have no idea what happens in the real world. They say the extremists are the ones who care for British people and the sane ones are those who export British bombs to murder people around the world. This is a topsy-turvy world.”

Zak Cochrane from Stand Up To Racism explained that “there’s been a massive step-change in the level of racism”.

But he’s “not a pessimist about the situation” as he sees “the potential of our side when we get organised”.

“There are millions of people on our side,” he said. “The fingers need to come together as a fist and smash the Tories’ bigotry. On 16 March everyone needs to get to the national protest. Together we can smash racism and get rid of the rotten lot.”

  • Join SUTR’s national protests to Stop the Hate on 16 March in London and Glasgow, and 17 March in Cardiff. More details here

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