Diane Abbott accused of ‘disrespecting’ electorate with hustings no-show

Abbott tweeted an image of herself canvassing in Westminster on the evening of the hustings.
Photograph: Twitter

Diane Abbott has been accused of “taking the electorate for granted” after failing to turn up for the only election hustings in her constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington last week.

The shadow home secretary’s former policy adviser Mick Burke took her place at the climate hustings hosted by Extinction Rebellion.

Burke said “national obligations” had kept Abbott from attending the event, including the launch of Labour’s Race and Faith manifesto the same day.

However Abbott later tweeted a picture of herself campaigning on the doorstep in Westminster with Gordon Nardell, the local Labour candidate, during the time the hustings was taking place.

Conservative candidate Ben Obese-Jecty retweeted the image, accusing Abbott of “mooching around Westminster” and adding that “she won’t allow herself to be scrutinised and takes the electorate for granted”.

Obese-Jecty added that he felt Abbott’s voice had been notable by its absence during the local and national election campaign so far.

He said: “The absence of the incumbent MP from the only hustings taking place in her constituency of 32 years was a firm indication that she sees no value or requirement to be challenged by representatives of competing parties.

“The excuse she provided for choosing not to attend, having accepted the invitation prior to myself, was that she had ‘National Obligations’. To subsequently post a picture of yourself on Twitter campaigning in Cities & Westminster reinforces the belief that she has little respect for the electorate.”

Obese-Jecty said that had Abbott attended the hustings, which were dedicated specifically to environmental themes, he would have challenged on environmental pledges in Labour’s manifesto, including its scheme for 320,000 Climate Apprenticeships and target of planting 2 billion trees by 2040, which he described as “ludicrous”.

Green Party candidate Alex Armitage said he was “sorely disappointed” by Abbott’s absence.

He said: “I was prepared to accept the excuse of being at a national Labour Party event but when I saw her tweet showing that she was canvassing in another constituency, I felt that it showed contempt for democracy and the people of Hackney.”

Brexit Party candidate Richard Ings also weighed in, saying: “Mrs [sic] Abbott not showing up quite honestly is pretty disrespectful to the local electorate – sadly I think she takes the local vote for Labour for granted and has grown very comfortable with the idea of not having to fight for her seat and win arguments with people.

“I suspect that she will be in for a big shock this time as some of her core voters will take her apparent contempt for her constituents at face value and vote for someone – hopefully me – who wants to change the way politics is done – that is, those at the top deciding on our behalf what is best for us – for good.”

Both Abbott and her campaign team were approached for comment but had not responded by time of publication.