Tory Donor Faces Public Anger Over Remarks About Diane Abbott

Tory donor Frank Hester’s comments targeting Diane Abbott spark outcry, highlighting pressing concerns of racism, misogyny, and political accountability in political circles. Here’s the full story.

So Wrong, So Quickly

The Conservative Party cannot catch a break. From ongoing accusations of Islamophobia to disgraced MPs jumping ship to join with their bitter rivals in Reform UK, there doesn’t seem to be a time in the history of current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak where so much has gone so wrong, so quickly. 

The latest news then will be of no comfort to those in the Conservative Party ranks. Frank Hester, a prominent Conservative party donor and founder of a healthcare technology firm, has found himself under intense scrutiny following revelations, first made in the Guardian, of profoundly racist remarks he made in a meeting. 

Diane Abbot

Hester’s comments, mainly targeting Diane Abbot, Britain’s longest-serving black MP, have ignited a debate over the responsibilities of influential figures in political funding and the apparent deep-seated issues of racism within the country’s current governing party.

According to the Guardian, during a meeting in 2019, Hester reportedly expressed his deep disdain towards Diane Abbott, stating, “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.”

Serious Questions

These remarks have raised serious questions and concerns about racism and misogyny at the meetings of political and corporate circles. The exposure of Hester’s comments prompted swift condemnation from various sections of British public life. 

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting denounced the remarks, stating, “This is utterly revolting, racist, and inciteful language. It has no place in our politics and public life.” Labour and the Liberal Democrats echoed calls for the Conservative party to return Hester’s £10 million donations.

Hestor’s Statement

In response to the allegations, Hester released a statement through his company, the Phoenix Partnership (TPP), stating that he “accepts that he was rude about Diane Abbott in a private meeting several years ago but his criticism had nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin.” 

The statement went on to say, “The Guardian is right when it quotes Frank saying he abhors racism, not least because he experienced it as the child of Irish immigrants in the 1970s.”

Hester then clarified that he had made attempts “to try to apologize directly (to Abbot) for the hurt he has caused her” and that he was “deeply sorry” for his statement. 

Further Insights

Beyond the controversy surrounding Hester’s comments, further insights into the workplace culture at his company, TPP, have emerged in the Guardian. 

Reports suggest a stringent environment characterized by exacting rules and expectations, including directives on communication styles and conduct during meetings reminiscent of a private boarding school. 

TPP also has close ties with those in government, having received over £400 million in payments from the NHS and various government entities since 2016, mainly for managing over 60 million medical records. 

Also, in less than four years, it has garnered profits totalling £135 million from contracts with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Close Relationship

Hester’s close relationship with the Conservative Party and his significant financial contributions have amplified the political ramifications of his actions. 

No doubt wishing that a simple apology would be sufficient to make the outcry dissipate somewhat, a spokesperson for the Conservative party stated, “Mr Hester has made clear that while he was rude, his criticism had nothing to do with her gender nor the colour of her skin. He has since apologized.”

As the target of Hester’s incendiary remarks, Diane Abbot, Shadow Home Secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, expressed feeling “upset” and “less safe” following the revelations, which highlights the personal toll of such racially charged rhetoric. 

Investigation Pending

Following her stint as shadow Home Secretary, last year Abbot faced suspension as a Labour MP after suggesting that Irish, Jewish, and Traveler individuals had not experienced racism throughout their lives. She is currently sitting as an independent as she awaits the outcome of an investigation.

The controversy surrounding Frank Hester’s remarks serves as a sobering reminder of the enduring prevalence of racism and misogyny in public discourse. 

The remarks also come at a bad time for the Conservative Party, already reeling from a week in which Lee Anderson has refused to apologize for racist remarks made about another Labour politician, London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

While the outcome of this latest scandal is unclear, one thing is: the words of this particular Tory donor will reverberate around Westminster for some time to come.

The post Tory Donor Faces Public Anger Over Remarks About Diane Abbott first appeared on Pulse365.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kings Davis.

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