Diane Abbott signals desire to fight the next election as Labour candidate – as supporters urge party to reinstate her

Diane Abbott with supporters on Hackney Downs. Photograph: Maya Sall

Residents and activists gathered in Hackney Downs over the weekend to call Diane Abbott to be reinstated by Labour, but the protest organiser admitted she was “disappointed” by the turnout.

Abbott was suspended from the Labour Party last year after she suggested Jewish people had not faced the same lifelong racism as other minorities.

Lucie Scott, who arranged the rally on Sunday, said: “A lot of people knew about today, and I feel a little bit disappointed that there weren’t more people out here.

“But it is also indicative of our lives – many people have responsibilities, children, the financial situation, people are working.”

The demonstration was broadcast live on social media, and Scott added: “I know that there were a lot of people watching and are here in spirit.”

Diane Abbott’s spirits were not dampened by the smaller-than-anticipated crowd.

Brimming from ear to ear, she told the crowd: “The sun is shining, we’re all out, we have each other, and we cannot fail because the community cannot allow us to fail.

“Sometimes, if you’re a Black woman and you’re on the left, you can feel very lonely. You can feel that there’s nobody to turn to, you can feel like you’re exposed and vulnerable.”

Forty-six posters were hung between two trees. Photograph: Maya Sall

She said the amount of support she has received in recent weeks has been “moving” and “humbling”.

Abbott told onlookers that she has had thousands of emails, letters and cards.

Forty-six ‘I stand with Diane’ posters were strung together between trees in the centre of Hackney Downs.

The posters symbolised the number of times Abbott stood up in an attempt address the House of Commons after she was subjected to racism by the Conversative Party’s largest donor, Frank Hester.

The businessman was reported to have told colleagues that looking at Abbott makes you “want to hate all Black women” and that the MP “should be shot”.

It is tradition that if an MP is embroiled in a particular issue, or is in the news, the Speaker will call on them to address parliament. However, Abbott was never called.

Abbott has been MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987, making her the first Black female MP and the longest-serving Black MP.

If her suspension continues, she cannot stand as a Labour Party candidate at the next general election.

After addressing the crowd, Abbott told the Citizen: “It’s been a very moving demonstration and I only hope that the Labour party leadership pays attention.

“I have the largest majority in the country, I’ve been reselected by my local party, and I believe I should go forward as Labour’s candidate in Hackney North and Stoke Newington.”