Former Abbott adviser insists she won’t let trolls get in my way

By Ally McDowell
December 8 2019, 13.25

Diane Abbott’s political adviser and Labour candidate for Streatham has vowed she won’t let a torrent of abuse stop her from representing her life-long home.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy received a flood of offensive remarks after winning her candidacy in early November and saw first-hand what her colleague Miss Abbott endured during the last election.

Miss Ribeiro Addy revealed: “I remember posting my announcement that I was standing for the Labour party and Diane retweeted it and immediately there was some abuse underneath.

“For a moment my heart sank because I thought to myself this is what you are getting yourself in for.

“I know that I’m going to get a lot of stuff thrown my way but just doing my job is a way of showing them I’m not going to take it.”

The Streatham resident advised the Shadow Home Secretary for over three years and witnessed the abuse she was subjected to.

Miss Abbott is the UK’s first black woman MP and was the target of 31.6% of all abusive tweets analysed in an Amnesty International UK study between January 1st and June 8th of 2017.

The study analysed 900,000 tweets mentioning women MPs and found that Abbott was on average receiving 51 abusive tweets a day.

The same study found that she received even more abuse in the six weeks leading up to the 2017 election as 45.14% of offensive tweets during that time were aimed at her.

When working for Miss Abbott, Ribeiro-Addy would regularly open letters, take phone calls, and read e-mails all containing the N-word and so is well-aware of what may come her way.

However, she insisted there is more reason to run than to combat abuse and said: “It’s not so much about the demographic, it’s more about the fact that I’ve never lived anywhere else; this is my community and if it weren’t for that I don’t think I would have done it at all.

“A lot of what the Tories have done has undone that good work that we have been able to do in Streatham and I am determined to get us back on track.

“I’ll contend on every single issue we do not win and I’m going to work hard to ensure that we make a difference in this community.

“I know that I’m going to get a bit of stick, but knowing I’m representing my home, that makes all the difference.”  

The first-time candidate doesn’t want her experiences to deter the future generation and feels what she has been able to achieve with the Windrush scandal could motivate them.

She said: “I was speaking to sixth formers last week, I had to be honest with them and a teacher got a bit nervous because we are meant to encourage them to get into politics.

“Someone like myself didn’t think that I could do it or that I should do it.

“But as a black woman in politics, for me to have been part of the team to have forced Amber Rudd to resign and apologise for her part in the Windrush scandal and what has happened to the black community is amazing.

“It is an example of how we can make an impact and bring these issues to Parliament.”

Read more about what’s important to south west London constituencies in our 24-page General Election preview special.

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