Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle slammed for not calling Diane Abbott at PMQs after Frank Hester row

“What was Lindsay Hoyle thinking?"

Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle

The Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has been criticised after failing to call Diane Abbott at PMQs, despite the MP having racist remarks made about her by the Tory party’s biggest donor, a topic which dominated this week’s session.

Labour leader Keir Starmer and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak clashed in the Commons over racism within the Tory party, after the Guardian revealed that the Conservative party’s biggest donor, Frank Hester, had said that said Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

The Guardian revealed that Hester made the comments during a business meeting in 2019.

He is reported to have said: “It’s like trying not to be racist but you see Diane Abbott on the TV, and you’re just like … 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.”

There have been calls for Sunak to return Hester’s donations, with the Labour leader beginning Prime Minister’s Questions by asking Sunak if he was “proud to be bankrolled by someone using racist and misogynist language?”

Despite the issue dominating PMQs, and despite repeatedly standing up in the Chamber to ask prime minister Rishi Sunak a question, Abbott was repeatedly overlooked throughout the whole session by Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Abbott has previously said that Hester’s comments made her feel frightened and expressed fears about her safety.

Hoyle’s failure to call on Abbott during PMQs didn’t go unnoticed. LFF columnist Prem Sikka wrote on X: “Diane Abbott was denied a chance to speak 46 times by the UK House of Commons Speaker whilst other MPs discussed racist abuse and death threat hurled at her.

“What was Lindsay Hoyle thinking? A Speaker who is so insensitive needs to go.”

Ian Dunt posted on X: “God knows why the Speaker didn’t call Diane Abbott, given half of PMQs directly concerned her. Utterly wrong-headed decision. Especially since he gave the last question to that know-nothing blowhard Mark Francios.”

Pippa Crerar, the Guardian’s Political Editor, added: “Very poor show that the Speaker did not grant Diane Abbott a question today”, while Abbott herself posted on X: “I don’t know whose interests the Speaker thinks he is serving. But it is not the interests of the Commons or democracy.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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