The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, come out in support of Diane Abbott amidst racist row

Kingston, 25 March 2024 – The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, issued a statement amidst of the racist row involving Member of Parliament Diane Abbott and UK Conservatives’ top donor Frank Hester .

Diane Abbott
Labour Member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

The statement was issued as follows:

I met Diane Abbott many years ago during one of her early visits to Jamaica and I know that she has suffered racism in capturing and keeping her historic post as the first Black female member of the British parliament.

As a Jamaican woman, I was shocked to read that a prominent Englishman had made such a horrible statement that seeing Diane Abbott on tv made him ‘want to hate all Black women’.

That the woman of whom he spoke has Jamaican roots, made his statement a personal offence to me and all Black Jamaican women.

On behalf of all Jamaicans, I offer Diane full support in this difficult situation.

As Bob Marley sang, quoting Emperor Haile Selassie, ‘Until the colour of a man – or woman’s – skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes’ there will be no peace.

I therefore hope there is some way to reconcile this matter in a way that brings peace.


In light of recent developments, concerns have been voiced by the Opposition Health and Wellness Spokesperson, Dr. Alfred Dawes, regarding the appropriateness of the Jamaican Government’s engagement with The Phoenix Partnership (TPP) for the digital conversion of health records. This scrutiny follows reports by The UK Guardian of an investigation into purported discriminatory comments made by TPP’s proprietor, Frank Hester, against Diane Abbott, a black Member of Parliament in the UK.

Dr. Dawes emphasized that despite widespread condemnation, protests, and calls for the National Health Service to terminate its contracts with TPP, sparked by the reported offensive remarks by Mr. Hester, there has been neither a declaration nor an official stance from Jamaica’s Ministry of Health or the Government regarding this matter.

Opposition Spokesman on Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Dawes

“To add insult to injury, the fact that Hester does business in Jamaica has been used by Lord Marland as “proof” that Mr Hester cannot be racist. That the government of Jamaica is allowing its dealings with Mr Hester to be used as a rebuttal to the activism of black Britons, the Diaspora and their supporters is an egregious offence against our proud history of the struggle against oppression,” Dawes stated. 

Dawes highlighted not only the ethical issues of engaging with someone accused of racism but also raised significant doubts about the fairness of the contract’s procurement procedure.

He said the initial request for proposals invited tenders for a US$2.4 million contract, but the contract signed with TPP was valued at US$5 million.

“We are asking for clarification as to why there was a variation of over 100 per cent at a time when the MOHW (Ministry of Health and Wellness) is facing questions as to how the Cornwall Regional Hospital project has seen cost overruns costing taxpayers $20 billion up from $2 billion,” Dawes said.

Dawes emphasised the urgent need for the ministry to address both the moral and financial aspects of this issue.

“The lack of transparency and accountability is unacceptable, especially considering the scrutiny from both the international community and Jamaican taxpayers,” he said. ~ Jamaica Gleaner

According to Aljazeera, Frank Hester who is the biggest donor to Britain’s governing Conservative Party has come under fire after he reportedly said looking at the country’s longest serving Black lawmaker made him “want to hate all Black women” and she “should be shot”.

Frank Hester has given 10 million pounds ($12.8m) to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s party in the past year, and the publication of his comments from 2019 prompted the opposition Labour Party to urge the Conservatives to return the donation.

Frank Hester the biggest donor to Britain’s governing Conservative Party

The Guardian newspaper quoted Hester as referring to Diane Abbott, who became the first Black woman to be elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom when she won a seat in 1987.

“It’s like trying not to be racist, but you see Diane Abbott on the TV, and you’re just like, I hate, you just want to hate all Black women because she’s there, and I don’t hate all Black women at all, but I think she should be shot,” he was quoted as saying.

Hester said in a statement that he “accepts that he was rude about Diane Abbott in a private meeting several years ago but his criticism had nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin”.

He said he abhors racism and had tried to apologise to Abbott.

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