After recent racist attack, Diane Abbott joins West Yorkshire in sticking two fingers up at the far right

Diane Abbott
Ed Sykes

Kirklees recently shot into the news due to an apparently racist attack on a young refugee. The attacker even got support from Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka ‘Tommy Robinson’). But now, the West Yorkshire borough is fighting back against the far right. And as thousands of people prepared to rally against Yaxley-Lennon and his supporters in London, Labour’s Diane Abbott joined Kirklees anti-racists in sticking two fingers up at people pushing hatred and division.

Increasing racism echoes a toxic media narrative

On 8 December, the shadow home secretary told protesters in Batley (the home town and parliamentary seat of assassinated Labour MP Jo Cox):

We’re seeing a rise in racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia. So let’s remember the tragic death of Jo Cox… Let’s remember much more recently the very horrible incident with the Syrian young person that was tortured – water-boarded. What has this country come to where we are torturing young people because they are a different faith or a different colour?

She then insisted:

There are too many frightening incidents of blatant racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism. And often, it finds an echo in the mainstream press. I have had appalling things tweeted at me, and online. But it echoes a narrative in the mainstream press that says that anybody who wants to stand up for communities is somehow a dangerous extremist.

She also said:

if we can’t show solidarity with each other, then there is no hope.

How Tory austerity and rising racism coincided

Abbott also made an important link, highlighting that:

In the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008, we have seen a steady rise in racism and xenophobia.

And this fits in with what others have insisted: that the recent rise of the far right is largely down to growing frustration in the wake of the 2007/8 capitalist crisis and the neoliberal austerity that has followed. In the UK, for example, the ruling Conservative Party chose to push the failed and extremist dogma of neoliberalism onto the country from 2010 onwards. Studies have since shown that the areas which austerity hit the hardest mirrored the areas that voted Brexit in 2016 – highlighting the anti-establishment frustration that government policies fostered.

As academics have also explained, the far right has been able to exploit the anger of some people hit hard by austerity and direct it into the scapegoating of minority communities – and usually immigrants.

As Abbott pointed out:

In the run-up to the last general election, I had more racist tweets and online racism than all the other women MPs put together.

And she called for solidarity, saying:

people sometimes say to me ‘oh, you must be strong’. No one is that strong – and sometimes it does get to you. So it’s really important that we show solidarity with each other.

We have the power to stop it

As Abbott insisted in Batley, we need to unite and oppose all forms of discrimination. But we also need to take power back from the neoliberal extremists in government. Because fighting racism means fighting the economic injustice and inequality which help to fuel its growth too. And that’s never going to happen under a Conservative-led government.

Featured image via Flickr

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  • Show Comments
    1. Time to stamp out the racist people full stop!
      After recent racist attack, Diane Abbott joins West Yorkshire, in sticking two fingers up at the far right
      WELL DONE Diane. You stand up for your principles.
      Because we in Lancashire (Pendle area)
      Have a Tory Govt problem coming from May 2018
      local Council election in our area.
      Tory Govt + Our Local Tory M.P. Mr. Andrew Stephenson
      + Our Tory Cllr in Pendle area all decided to re-state
      the Tory racist Cllr in our area just to win seats
      plus, the May 2018 election in our area.
      We non-Tory resident are very concerned if the Migrant, people in our area start to kick off on the streets, when the racist Tory Cllr go on the local area, web platform giving them trouble by their racist remarks, to the Migrant people in our area.
      Miss Diane Abbott?
      Could you bring this to the Attention of Ms. May
      plus, Tory Minister while at front beach in H.O. Commons for us Pendle resident as our M.P. will not reply to us or respond on this matter
      we have tried to get him to tell us WHY he reinstated, his well-known racist Troy Cllr in our area just to win seats knowing they offended the Migrant people in our area,
      We resident HOPE & PRAY the Migrant young people, do not start to kick off in our area at some time to come. when the Tory racist Cllr start work in our area of, Lancashire.
      (Pendle area run by Tory party NOW!)
      POINT where Tory Voter also voted for the racist Tory Cllr to win power in our area, say a lot about Tory voter, as well this problem of racism within Tory party, festering now more and more!

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