Thursday, 20 May 2010
Could Diane do it?
Today Diane Abbott through herself, grenade like, into the ring for the Labour leadership, blowing the contest wide open. Just yesterday, some Labour backbenchers were complaining that the declared and potential candidates were all men who 'look the same' (both physically and politically). With the intervention of Ms. Abbott, this is no longer true.
Diane Abbott was the first black woman to be elected to serve in the House of Commons, and is one of the most passionate speakers in Parliament today. Most people know her from her weekly appearances on the BBC's late night political programme "This Week", presented by Andrew Neil, which takes a light-hearted look at politics and shows-off Ms. Abbott's whimsical said.
She has never been a member of the government or shadow cabinet, but Diane Abbott has not been without criticism. In 2003, Ms. Abbott decided to send her son to a public school, this caused great controversy due to her previous criticism of Tony Blair and Harriet Harman for sending their children to independent schools (which were still state schools, although selective). Her actions were condemned as hypocrisy by many in the media, and she herself said it was "indefensible".
It seems unlikely she could win, but then people said the same about David Cameron in 2005 and Barrack Obama in 2008. The leadership election is going to go on for a long time, no one could have predicted the events of the last four weeks, who could predict what will happen in the next four months? As I said in an earlier post, the Labour party uses an AV electoral system, which makes the outcome difficult to predict.
The first challenge for any candidate is to find 33 Labour MPs to support them. Ms. Abbott claims she can do it, others are not so confident. But this afternoon the NEC announced that it had extended the deadline for nominations to 9 June. This might help John McDonnell to get nominated and, if he did, his candidacy would hinder Ms. Abbott's as both are seen as left-wing candidates and they may split that voting bloc.
So, can she win? That is the question for anyone voting in this election who might be thinking of supporting Ms. Abbott, and the question doesn't just refer to the leadership but also to the next general election. The Labour party are voting for someone who they can present to the public as an alternative Prime Minister - that's no small decision to make, no wonder it is going to take them so long.