Diane Abbott has found herself in a distressing situation following allegations that a Conservative donor, Frank Hester, expressed derogatory sentiments towards her, stating that she made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot.” Hester, a businessman who has contributed over £5 million to the Conservatives since 2019, acknowledged making “rude” comments about Abbott, for which he expressed deep regret. However, he claimed that these comments had nothing to do with her gender or skin colour.

Abbott, in her response, highlighted the impact of such remarks on her, emphasising the alarming nature of the statements in the context of recent political murders. Living in Hackney and not driving, she explained how being a single woman already made her vulnerable, and hearing such remarks was deeply concerning.

Tory ministers faced scrutiny in the aftermath of Hester’s alleged comments, with calls from both Labour and the Liberal Democrats for the return of any donations. Energy Minister Graham Stuart condemned the remarks but refrained from commenting on the return of the funds, asserting that individuals should not be excluded from public life based on past indiscretions.

Abbott appealed for support from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who had removed the whip from her the previous year. Starmer accused the Conservatives of downplaying the racist and sexist nature of Hester’s comments and called for the party to acknowledge and return the donated money.

Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain criticised the Conservative Party’s refusal to return the donations, and Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride described Hester’s comments as inappropriate but insisted they were neither gender nor race-based.

The Westminster Accounts project revealed that Hester’s Phoenix Partnership had donated £5.1 million to the Conservatives since 2019. The company also made a donation to Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, which was listed as the provision of a helicopter for political events.

Labour’s shadow business minister, Sarah Jones, labelled Hester’s remarks as racist and abhorrent, urging the Conservatives to swiftly disavow such comments and distance themselves from individuals holding such views. The controversy raises questions about the handling of donations by political parties and the responsibility of donors to shape the public image of the parties they support.

This, in one quote, is what is wrong with the current Conservative Party. Vile racists and bigots are propping it up with their cash.

The country has no chance of curing itself of this sickness while these people have any influence.

This is what Frank Hester said:

Frank Hester has gotten rich running one of the companies most critical to the UK’s health infrastructure, but most people will never have heard of him or his firm.

By Hester’s own estimation, the Phoenix Partnership (TPP), the software company he built from scratch and solely owns, is worth £1bn after winning more than £400 million in NHS and prison contracts in the last eight years.

To celebrate reaching this milestone in 2019, he threw a “unicorn party” at his mansion near Leeds, complete with horses dressed up with horns, and his staff were invited to celebrate.

We either choose to cure the sickness by getting rid of it or sit back and let them carry on.

Over to the decent.

Penny Lane

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