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Streatham MP

New Streatham MP vows not to give in to bigotry: ‘I never thought I’d see the N-word so much’

By Tom Holmes
December 13 2019, 07.30

Bell Ribeiro-Addy hailed Streatham’s diversity as she became MP for the constituency, securing a 54.8% vote share with 30,976 votes.

The newly-elected Labour MP spoke about the importance of fighting bigotry in all its forms, and how she intends to stand up to racism.

Ms Ribeiro-Addy was previously Diane Abbott’s chief of staff and as a result, has both first and second-hand experience of racism in politics.

Ms Ribeiro-Addy said: “One of the things I’m proudest of about Streatham is its diverse and rich community and I will not stand for anyone being attacked by bigotry.

“It’s really important to stand up and challenge that bigotry in positions of leadership because we currently have a PM who thinks it’s acceptable to use the N-word, to say Muslim women look like letterboxes, who thinks it’s acceptable to make derogatory remarks about people like us, and we have to stand up to that.

“Before politics, I never thought I’d see the N-word so much, I never thought I’d see emails with swastikas, I never thought I would be sent cards with monkeys on them and it is enough to ask yourself ‘Why would you put yourself up for office as a black woman?’

“But Diane Abbott has always taught me that if you don’t stand up and be counted, then the bigots win.”

Ms Ribeiro-Addy had praised the party for giving women and diverse candidates genuine chances in safe seats.

She also said that Ms Abbott was the best role model that she could have.

Labour’s vote share in Streatham dropped 13.7%, with the Liberal Democrats Helen Thompson finishing second, her party’s vote share up 17%.

And on a night where Labour finished with just 203 seats, 59 down on the 2017 election, Ms Ribeiro-Addy defended her party’s manifesto.

She said: “I will continue to fight for the manifesto we put forward because it was a manifesto that fought for what was right.

“The people of the country got behind this manifesto and we had a full plan for real change and it’s sad that things have gone this way.

“Moving forward as a party, we will need a leadership that continues to fight for that.

“I’m most worried about the people of Streatham and people across the UK who rely on our public services and will suffer because of what is about to happen.

“I’m flabbergasted and truly disappointed by what has happened tonight.”

Ms Ribeiro-Addy didn’t specify who she wanted to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, as the Labour leader announced he would not take the party into another election.

She wanted to keep the focus on her constituency and said that she had a lot of issues she was ready to tackle.

She added: “I don’t want to be in a situation where the people of Streatham end up suffering.

“When the first wave of Conservative austerity cuts hit, it was very clear that Labour councils were affected more than Tory councils and that cannot be allowed to happen again.

“I believe that being an MP shouldn’t be a job for life, it should be a job for as long as your constituents want them to represent you and they shall have every single opportunity to hold us to account.

“That’s what I promise to do as an MP.”

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