Warning: This article contains strong language
Diane Abbott today called for an inquiry into the “turbo-charged” racist and sexist abuse she and others in politics receive on an “almost daily basis.”
The Shadow Home Secretary this morning revealed the vile abuse she has been subjected to – including rape and death threats – has increased dramatically in the past few weeks.
Abbott, who became the first black woman elected to Parliament when she won Hackney North and Stoke Newington in 1987, said her staff members try to stop her walking around her own constituency – such is the fear for her safety.
Speaking on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday show on Sky News, Abbott attacked the media for acting as an “echo chamber” for some of the abuse she receives – singling out last week’s Mail on Sunday front page which revealed Brexit Secretary David Davis claimed he wouldn’t hug her as he’s “not blind.”
When asked about why she had decided to speak out now, Abbott said she received “almost daily abuse being called a bitch, a nigger, rape threats, people saying I should be hanged, and it reached a particular pitch in the last few weeks and I thought to myself had I known it would be like this 30 years on from elected, I’d have thought twice about running for parliament at all.”
She added: “It kind of does get in your head, it kind of does demoralise you, and even though you know it shouldn’t do, it does make you doubt yourself.”
Abbott revealed that after the murder of her Labour colleague Jo Cox last year in a terrorist attack, she began to have serious concerns for her own safety.
She said: “Maybe this isn’t all just abuse. Maybe stuff can happen. Since then I have been trying to sort out the security on my home and my staff try not let me walk around Hackney on my own. It’s a horrible, horrible world out there.”
The Labour veteran conceded that the abuse “kind of does get in your head, it kind of does demoralise you, and even though you know it shouldn’t do, it does make you doubt yourself.”
When asked about whether she felt Parliament needed to investigate the rise of online abuse, which has also affected Labour MP Luciana Berger and the Conservative Anna Soubry, Abbott said: “I think there’s probably a case for a Parliamentary inquiry, but partly to make internet providers do more.”