British politics was dominated by racism and anti-semitism last week around the person and politics of Diane Abbott, the first black woman to be elected to the British parliament in 1987 as Labour MP for Hackney North in London.

She is what the Brits call a bit like Marmite – a savoury dark paste consumed thinly spread on toast and butter that you either love or hate. No UK politician has had to put up with as much loathing as Diane Abbott, some of it because she is envied as an uppity black woman who went to Cambridge University and became a TV celebrity, but a lot of it is blatantly racist and sexist.

She is best known for her double act with former Conservative defence minister, Michael Portillo, in the BBC’s late-night politics show This Week on Thursday nights. It was hosted by the former editor of the Sunday Times and TV grand inquisitor Andrew Neil and his dog Molly and ran from 2003 to 2019.

Diane Abbott loved the programme, and the programme loved her. She was flirty and charming and well informed about Labour Party politics, and her repartee with Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo was witty and the chemistry between them natural and great fun to watch.

But it looks as though her appearances on TV aroused deep racial prejudice in a super-rich chippy businessman called Frank Hester. Never heard of him but he sounds like an odious oligarch-type who has nothing better to do with his money than to donate £10 million to the Conservative Party – for what exactly? It is a touch eccentric that he wants to throw money at a doomed cause, but he also said racist, misogynistic, and dangerous things against Diane Abbot tin 2019 that have not lost their malice for being stale.

Here’s what he said when addressing his company as its CEO apropos of nothing: “it’s like trying not to be racist but you see Diane Abbott on TV, and you’re just like … 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.”

His diatribe dominated political discourse in UK last week because the prime minister was slow to call it out as racist. The point about Hester’s attack on Diane Abbott is that you do not deconstruct it to decide what it means. What you do is look at it as a matter of impression in terms of its impact on black people and on the victim.

The impression it had on Sunak’s minister for women and equality, Kemi Badenoch, who is black African was that it was obviously racist and the same for Kwasi Kwarteng, the former finance minister and right-wing Conservative who is also black African.

Sunak, who is of Indian heritage and also of a dark hue, did not take offence, but in the end, he was driven to accept during prime minister’s questions last Wednesday that Hester’s remarks were racist and wrong, though he accepted Hester’s apology even though it was for being rude rather than racist.

By the way, the conduct of the debate in parliament was further proof that the speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle is not impartial and grossly unfair. The debate was about a racist diatribe on Diane Abbott, which the speaker conducted as if she were not present. She was in the chamber and bobbed up 37 times to catch the speaker’s eye to address parliament about the verbal attack on her all to no avail. Inexplicably, no member of a full chamber called for a procedural point of order to force the speaker to call on her to speak – why was there no one with gumption or any sense of chivalry to call the speaker to account?

The speaker is a disgrace and should resign; he should have resigned for conspiring to steal the Scottish National Party’s opposition day two weeks ago, but was given the benefit of the doubt as there was no direct evidence of conspiracy. His treatment of Diane Abbott was in plain sight for all to see, and it was obvious he deliberately ignored her even though she had been the target of a death threat – a criminal offence if done with intent to frighten.

Talking of which, it is true that the phrase “she should be shot” may be banter in some circumstances, and I guess the public wants to know how threatened Ms Abbott felt hearing a rich and powerful man say he wanted her shot. Loose talk about getting rid of people can be lethal. When King II famously asked rhetorically “will nobody rid me of this turbulent priest?” his words were mistaken as an order to kill Archbishop Thomas Becket who was promptly murdered by the king’s men at Canterbury Cathedral. You get my drift!

Diane Abbott sits in parliament as an independent after she was suspended from the parliamentary Labour Party last year for alleged antisemitism. What she did was send a letter to the Observer newspaper in which she suggested that the racism suffered by blacks was worse than that suffered by white groups like Jewish, Irish and gypsy people. She apologised immediately and retracted her letter; she said she had not realised some Jewish and Irish people might take offence to being told the racism suffered by blacks was worse than the racism they suffered.

But why has the Labour Party taken a year to investigate? She admitted to writing the letter and apologised. What else is there to investigate? She should be reinstated ASAP.

Alper Ali Riza is a king’s counsel in the UK and a retired part time judge