Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, calls out ‘racist’ and ‘Institutionally Islamophobic’ Conservative Party

Addressing an audience at a forum organised by the European Institute, at the London School of Economics on Tuesday 12th March, Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, responded to the expose over racist and misogynistic comments levelled against the MP for Hackney North, Diane Abbott – Britain’s longest serving black MP, by the Conservative Party’s biggest donor. The controversial remarks made by Frank Hester, chief executive of healthcare software firm The Phoenix Partnership (TPP), added to the growing list of Islamophobic and racist scandals which have been linked to the Conservative Party and it supporters in recent weeks. The latest furore prompted Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, to use the platform during a speech at the London School of Economics, to call on the Conservative party to hand back the millions of pounds which it had accepted from him. The First Minister, went on to describe the Conservative party as ‘undoubtedly institutionally Islamophobic’.

Widespread condemnation

Frank Hester’s comments, in which he said ‘Abbott made him want to hate all black women’ and ‘should be shot’, have received widespread condemnation from black community leaders, women’s rights groups and a cross section of high profile figures from all political parties. Many senior Labour and Liberal MP’s publicly branded Frank Hester’s remarks as ‘clearly racist and abhorent’, before insisting that the Conservatives should hand back the money donated by him. However, the Conservative Party, chose to avoid an outright condemnation, instead urging all concerned to accept Hester’s apology, to acknowledge his ‘remorse’ and to move on. Black Conservative MPs including Business Secretary, Kemi Badenoch and former Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, as well as other senior Tories, including the former Conservative leader, William Hague, described Hester’s comments as racist, but stopped short of suggesting any kind of sanction or a need for the party to return monies.  

Energy minister Graham Stuart, whilst acknowledging that the comments by Hester were racist. He said:

‘It was clearly a ridiculous thing to say, he’s rightly apologised for it, and here’s a man who’s supporting the most diverse Cabinet we’ve ever had under this Conservative Party’

Diane Abbott says she found remarks ‘frightening’

Diane Abbott has reported comments to the Metropolitan Police

Diane Abbott, has revealed that she has reported the comments to the Metropolitan police, saying that she found the remarks ‘frightening’. She added that she is a:

‘single woman and that makes me vulnerable anyway, but to hear someone talking like this is worrying’

First Minister, Humza Yousaf, was emphatic in his belief that the comments made by Hester and the response from the Conservative Party to them, went beyond simply off-the-cuff remarks that could be washed away with a simple apology. He said

‘First and foremost, can I say that I stand in full solidarity with Diane Abbott. She has been a trailblazer for many years, and we may have our differences on particular issues, but I stand full square behind and alongside Diane Abbott. Those comments from Hester are not just racist. They’re not just sexist. They are inciting hatred, which is completely and utterly unacceptable. If the Conservative Party had any moral principle, then they would return every single penny and tell him where his money should go’

‘The Conservative Party is not just riddled with Islamophobia, but institutionally Islamophobic’

He added:

‘My honest view on the question of the Conservative Party more generally is that there is simply no doubt in my mind that the Conservative Party is not just riddled with Islamophobia, but institutionally Islamophobic. How could it not be when you hear the comments from [former home secretary] Suella Braverman? When Lee Anderson, who was a senior member of the Conservative Party up to a few days ago, was able to make the comments that he made about Sadiq Khan and not a single senior Conservative, including the Prime Minister, was able to call it Islamophobic. And that is, of course, the party who also elected a leader that described Muslim women as bank robbers because of the way that they look. So the Conservative Party, in my mind, undoubtedly is institutionally Islamophobic.’

The following day, Wednesday 13th March, at Prime Minister’s questions in Westminster, Rishi Sunak, responded to a question from the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, on the issue by saying:

Mr. Speaker, the alleged comments were wrong, they were racist and he has now rightly apologised for them and that remorse should be accepted. Mr. Speaker, there is no place for racism in Britain and the government that I lead is living proof of that’

Keir Starmer locks horns with the Prime minister, Rishi Sunak, at PMQs

‘Conservative Party happy to be bankrolled by a racist and a misogynist’

Keir Starmer asked again whether the Conservative Party was happy to be bankrolled by a racist and a misogynist and then added:

Mr. Speaker, the man bankrolling the Prime Minister also said, that the member for Hackney North should be shot. How low would he have to sink? What racist, women hating threat of violence would he have to make before the Prime Minister plucked up the courage to hand back the £10 million that he has taken from him?…Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister invited himself into everyone’s living room at 6 o’clock on a Friday evening. No one asked him to give that speech. He chose to do it. He chose to anoint himself as the great healer and pose as some kind of unifier. But when the man bankrolling his election says the member for Hackney North should be shot, he suddenly finds himself tongue tied, shrinking in sophistry, hoping he can deflect for long enough that we’ll all go away.’


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