One of the most disgusting and shameful aspects of the British establishment—its politicians and its media—is its treatment of Labour MP Diane Abbott. Born into a working-class British-Jamaican family, Abbott graduated from Cambridge and in 1987 became Britain’s first female black MP. She has been the Member of Parliament for her constituency in East London ever since, and she currently serves on Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow front bench as Shadow Home Secretary. Abbott is also quite probably one of the most—if not the most—widely abused public figures in the country. It’s a vicious and cowardly hatred repeatedly stoked up by right-wing politicians and the establishment media.
It doesn’t take much of a conceptual effort to try and figure out why Britain’s establishment would continuously treat one of the most prominent progressive working-class black women in the country with such contempt and hatred. In her success and determination in the face of a hostile and racist patriarchy, in her policy beliefs and in her identity, Diane Abbott is everything that the posh privately educated silver spoon boys who run the country fear. In the world that their inbred great-grandparents built for themselves upon the backs of slavery and exploited labour there is not meant to be any room for people like Diane Abbott to rise. Now, with a genuinely progressive Labour party with people like Abbott at the forefront of it on the cusp of bringing actual change to British society for the first time in generations, those boys and their networks have to go into overdrive in their efforts to discredit and destroy.
Somewhat of an upside to that are the wonderful outpourings of solidarity for Abbott in response, as the events of this Bank Holiday weekend demonstrate. Last Friday, as the country was beginning its anomalous 4-day climate change-stoked heat fest and the British people were preparing to bask in unseasonable sunshine while climate change activists blockaded London in a plea for a livable future, The Sun—of course—published a ‘shocking’ image of Diane Abbott enjoying a cheeky can of pre-mixed Mojito on a train. Yes indeed, because in a country ravaged by years upon years of Tory austerity, in which homelessness, poverty, food bank usage, and xenophobia have skyrocketed while the health service, schools and other public services are all being starved of oxygen—and all the while the disastrous shitshow that Tory Brexit continues apace—the thing that The Sun thought most newsworthy was a supremely hard-working, unbelievably brave black woman having a sip of some flavoured alcohol. Now there’s no doubt that some of that racist bog-roll’s readership may well have decided to be actually outraged at this, but let’s be honest, for that demographic it could be a picture of Abbott literally just looking at some flowers in a park and it would be enough to stoke their bigoted belly fire. Luckily there was also a metric tonne of support for Abbott on social media.
After a hard day on the #LabourDoorstep what better way to relax than with a #mojitogate on the train back to Hackney. Solidarity with @HackneyAbbott. We’re allowed to drink on national rail. Repeal Boris’s tfl ban! pic.twitter.com/q2ho1rNDdg— Patrick J Barrett (@patriquelebleu) April 20, 2019
Diane Abbott’s influence, wow pic.twitter.com/t1HKOeJ2fB— Le Page Aux Folles (@Troy_LP) April 20, 2019
The absolute snitchery of the person that snapped Diane Abbott having a cheeky coupla cans on the train. You’re really moving like Randall from Recess— Mo Gilligan (@MoTheComedian) April 20, 2019
She is The Shadow Home Secretary! She has worked bloody hard getting to where she is today ! If she wants to slug back a bottle of champagne wherever she goes it's got absolutely nothing to do with you ! Why does your opinion even count ? https://t.co/MPVSiJHNG8— 🌹Linda #JC4PM2019🌹 (@candylush) April 20, 2019
You know what’s the real story that is not being told in this stupid #mojitogate hit piece…the utter daily bravery of @HackneyAbbott who continues using the public transport despite all the threat and abuse she faces daily exacerbated by a right wing press. More power to her.✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/YtG8XxKatE— Rohit K Dasgupta (@RKDasgupta) April 20, 2019
I find this article quite insidious. Why would a retired Met’ Detective Chief Inspector be following Diane Abbott? Taking photos of her and leaking to press? He was forced into early retirement after a disciplinary for far right posts. #Stalker https://t.co/WX7e5VvbzB— Teri #MarxistAgitator 🚩 ♿️ 🇵🇸🇮🇪🏳️🌈 (@Card007Teri) April 22, 2019
The MSM talking about @HackneyAbbott like she downed 8 cans of Tenants Super and started doing the Macarena on the train yet 120,000 dead due to austerity barely merits a mention.— Gypsophila (@Gypsophilala) April 21, 2019
Which story have you seen the most?— Nigel Auchterlounie (@spleenal) April 21, 2019
The one about Diane Abbott drinkng a mojito on a train?
Or the one about Boris Johnson not declaring all his interests? pic.twitter.com/lWxDAB8EXa
To be honest, if I received just a fraction of the vicious abuse and trolling that the superb Diane Abbott gets I’d be on the White Lighting/Methylated Spirit cocktails every waking hour.— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) April 20, 2019
Cheers to @HackneyAbbott who would be attacked by the rightwing press for having a polo mint if they could get away with it. Never forget for decades #dianeabbott has held the line for social & economic justice &— Voyage Around My Dad, Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) April 20, 2019
that dedication to the vulnerable is something to raise a glass to pic.twitter.com/P6kdKKrShp
You can kill disabled people with #Austerity cuts, bomb people in #Yemen , turn tower blocks into fire hazards that kill people, deport British #Windrush and so many other abhorrent things …..but the biggest story for MSM will ALWAYS be@HackneyAbbott #mojitogate— Ragged Trousered CatNip #GTTO (@ChampagneDosser) April 21, 2019
Whether being the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons, speaking out valiantly against gross human rights abuses, or drinking mojitos to unwind…@HackneyAbbott has always gone against the grain to live life right. She's a rocknrolla 🤘 pic.twitter.com/TL5ESqxJYT— Ollie 🌹🌱 (@Ollie4TheMany) April 20, 2019
.@HackneyAbbott got “mojito” trending on Twitter and half of London heading to M&S for a tinnie.— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) April 20, 2019
The People’s Influencer!
Thank you @TheSun for highlighting that @HackneyAbbott uses environmentally friendly public transport to get around, not cars or taxis#Mojito #mojitogate #JC4PM #GeneralElectionNow #ExtinctionRebellion— 🌹John Fielder - #JC4PM2019 (@JohnFielder1) April 20, 2019
I am so here for this civil disobedience 🥂🍾🍹🥃 https://t.co/gtOAigW7Wj— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) April 19, 2019
Despite the ludicrousness of the scenario, one can of course imagine why Abbott herself thought it best to apologise for this non-event. If it was up to the establishment, women—and especially working class women of colour—would forever be apologising for, well, just existing. Even though it’s clearly entirely in bad faith to be demanding an apology for having a small drink on a train—something that millions of other people do every single day, often to actually damaging levels—and even though it could be for literally anything thing else, sometimes it must be easier in the moment to just apologise, even though the people who have decided to be ‘offended’ by the event will remain so, and then to get on with the job of actually trying to change the country for the better.
There was also a particularly sinister edge to this story, however, when it was revealed that the person who snapped the picture of Abbott was a former copper who had to be disciplined for racist rhetoric.
Well well well.— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) April 20, 2019
Police inspector who shopped Diane Abbott for drinking on train faced disciplinary for far-right commentshttps://t.co/Gd2sVMSnZC
This is a pretty serious topic so I don’t wanna be lapsing into meme talk, but: Protect Diane Abbott at all costs.
Perhaps the most sour note to this horrible saga however is the absolute champagne pissing hypocrisy of someone like Diane Abbott being lambasted for taking a sip of some mild alcohol on a train while the entire history of the ruling class of this country is pretty much just a succession of posh white men totally and completely blitzed out of their skulls on opium, coke, booze, and literally every other substance under the sun.
So @HackneyAbbott is getting slated for drinking a can of premixed mojito on the tube. Not working. Not in meetings etc, and there’s an uproar by the media. Whereas George Osborne turns up to work practically catatonic and no one bats an eyelid 🙈🙈🤦🏼♀️ #mojitogate #istandwithdiane pic.twitter.com/KFGbYmgAkd— DebbiexMx (@debbiexmx) April 20, 2019
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