Diane Abbott lifts the lid on abuse - and rival MPs show solidarity
'I receive racist and sexist abuse online on a daily basis.'
Diane Abbott has revealed the shocking nature of some of the racist and sexist abuse she receives online.
The shadow home secretary said she frequently gets rape and death threats and warned that the abuse hurled at female MPs could put young women off entering politics.
It followed a week of speculation and ridicule about how the leading ally of Jeremy Corbyn might vote on the third reading of the Article 50 bill - since she called in sick to the second reading with a migraine.
In an article for the Guardian, Abbott said the week had been a “perfect storm” culminating in a "crescendo of blatantly racist and sexist abuse online".
Last week Brexit secretary David Davis was forced to apologise after it emerged he had text a friend saying he had not tried to hug Abbott because he is “not blind”. In her article, Abbott condemned the “misogynist text exchange” between Davis and his friend.
She also referred to a Conservative politician who was recently suspended over a racist tweet. Alan Pearmain, the deputy chairman of the South Ribble Conservative Association and a parish councillor, shared a tweet in December that portrayed Abbott as an ape wearing lipstick who should be in a zoo with the caption: "Forget the London look, get the Diane Abbott look."
The Labour MP wrote that "even the young, fearless Diane Abbott" may have thought twice about entering politics if she could have foreseen some of the abuse hurled at her today.
She added: “Suppose that someone had told me back then that 30 years on I would be receiving stuff like this: ‘Pathetic useless fat black piece of sh*t Abbott. Just a piece of pig sh*t pond slime who should be f*cking hung (if they could find a tree big enough to take the fat bitch’s weight)’.”
And she went on: “This is not an isolated example. I receive racist and sexist abuse online on a daily basis. I have had rape threats, death threats, and am referred to routinely as a bitch and/or nigger, and am sent horrible images on Twitter.
“The death threats include an EDL-affiliated account with the tag ‘burn Diane Abbott’.”
She lamented that such online culture feeds into media coverage, adding: “This is an issue for all women in the public space. It is particularly an issue for those of us who would like to see more young women involved in political activity and debate in the wider society.”
After the article was published, Abbott received effusive backing on Twitter from various parliamentarians - including a host of Labour MPs who have disagreed with her on most other issues.