Tory peer Lord Marland says Frank Hester can’t be racist because he does lots of business in Jamaica

“Absolutely speechless."

Tory candidate

The racism row engulfing the Conservative Party has intensified, with Tory ministers and peers continuing to defend the party’s biggest donor, despite his racist comments about Diane Abbott.

Frank Hester, who has given £10m to the party in the past year, told a business meeting in 2019 that Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

Now Tory peer and former Conservative Party treasurer Lord Marland has become the latest senior Tory to defend Hester, telling LBC that he cannot be racist because ‘he does a lot of business in Jamaica, he does business in Malaysia, in Bangladesh and places like that’.

Those comments have been condemned, with author Sathnam Sanghera posting on X: “I can think of some other people who managed to balance intense racism with trade with Jamaica, Malaya etc.”

Labour MP Taiwo Owatemi said: “Absolutely speechless.

“Frank Hester’s comments towards Diane were racist and misogynistic. Lord Marland’s defence of his comments based on “he can’t be because” is pathetic. Racism has no place in public life and Frank Hester’s money has no place in the Tory party.”

Hester’s comments have been widely condemned with demands for the Tories to return the donations he has made.

Abbott said that she felt frightened after the remarks made by Hester. She said: “It is frightening. I live in Hackney, I don’t drive, so I find myself, at weekends, popping on a bus or even walking places, more than most MPs … For all of my career as an MP I have thought it important not to live in a bubble, but to mix and mingle with ordinary people. The fact that two MPs have been murdered in recent years makes talk like this all the more alarming.”

Earlier today another senior Tory, Graham Stuart, was also criticised after defending Hester. He said that he would “hesitate” to describe Hester’s comments as racist, as he warned against ‘cancel culture’ and said that he welcomed anybody who supported the Tory party.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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