Diane Abbott 'appreciation night' sees veteran Hackney MP honoured at Queen of Hoxton for 'breaking glass ceiling'
PUBLISHED: 10:52 26 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:27 26 June 2017
Stefan Foster | STFNDOCS
Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott was honoured at an "Abbott appreciation night" to commemorate her 30 years in Parliament.
Stephanie Ozuo, a 22-year-old IT consultant from south London, planned the night at the Queen of Hoxton in response to the backlash Ms Abbott faced after interview blunders and her temporary replacement as shadow home secretary.
Labour MPs Keith Vaz and Clive Lewis joined young performers and 100 guests at the event on Wednesday.
Jermain Jackman, winner of The Voice UK, dedicated a performance of You Raise Me Up to Ms Abbott. He said she had inspired him to get into politics, which he is now studying at university – alongside his work to boost opportunities for young people in Islington with the Fair Futures Commission.
Mr Vaz, also an MP of three decades, told the crowd: “Diane broke the glass ceiling. Everything she has done in the last 30 years, she has taken steps no one else was able to take.”
Ms Abbott entered the venue to cheers and applause.
"We have come here to really show you our appreciation and how much we love you. I, as a black woman, cannot tell you how much this means to me"
She told the room: “I will make it better for black women who come after me.
“It was a hard campaign. People always talk about strong black women and I’m sick of hearing that because everyone is human.”
Addressing the interview blunders that saw her vilified by the right-wing press, such as not being able to cost Labour’s flagship policy on police numbers, she said: “I cannot say I did everything right but I’ve always tried and I’m still here.”
The event organiser Ms Ozuo broke down when meeting Ms Abbott, giving a tearful speech on stage and presenting her with a hamper paid for by donations.
“We have come here to really show you our appreciation and how much we love you. I, as a black woman, cannot tell you how much this means to me,” she said.
In the end, despite negative publicity and her last-minute replacement as shadow home secretary for health reasons, Ms Abbott was returned with 42,265 votes – a majority of 35,139.
Asked for her reaction to the support, she said: “It’s very moving.
“I can’t put it into words. It’s meant a lot to me, even during the campaign.”