Thursday, 9 September 2010

Diane Abbott: Labour Leadership Special

Diane Abbott has the most parliamentary experience of all the leadership candidates. She has been an MP since 1987 and, before that, was a Labour councillor. She is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group and voted against the Labour government on issues such as the Iraq War, foundation hospitals, replacing Trident and tuition fees.

Diane is being supported by Philip Matusavage:
New Labour lost the 2010 election, having suffered the worst haemorrhaging of voters of any party in modern times. Yet much of the Labour Party has been telling us that we need more of the same. Four of the five leadership candidates are inextricably linked with the New Labour era which the public comprehensively rejected.

Only one candidate had the political wisdom and principle to actively oppose the Labour government when it was wrong. Much is made of Diane Abbott’s opposition to, for example, Iraq and the erosion of civil liberties and rightly so. However, of most importance is her passionate belief in a society which serves the many, not the few. Diane has always rejected the false distinction between the Labour ‘core vote’ and the ‘middle class’. However people are identified, she recognises that a government that works to reduce inequality and advance liberty is one which improves the whole of society.

Diane’s views are very much centre-left, and many of them (such as the renationalisation of the railways or ending Trident) are hugely popular across the country. She has also demonstrated, on issues such as Crossrail and 90-day detention, that she was willing to work with government in order to try and find compromises.

Diane is an outstanding, experienced and charismatic politician who, alone out of the candidates, has the ability to connect with ‘ordinary voters’ while making intellectual arguments against the coalition cuts. She cannot be faulted when it comes to New Labour’s failures, and her background makes her uniquely placed to be able to wrong-foot and challenge David Cameron. Much is made of what a ‘credible leader’ looks like. In 2010, the only credible leader is Diane Abbott.
Do you agree with Philip? Does the fact Diane sent her son to private school undermine her left-wing credentials? Does her lack of ministerial experience make her an unsuitable leadership contender? Or does her disassociation with New Labour strengthen her campaign? Let us know what you think below.

Tomorrow we’ll be looking at Andy Burnham.


Tom @ Eyes on Power said...

Thanks, Philip, interesting points. What I would say is that out of all of the candidates Abbott seems the most 'Labour-like'. She doesn't shy away from what Labour are (were?) about and you can't really fault her work within her constituency. The private school contradiction is a shame as it somewhat undermines her credibility as a leftist, but I still think she has more 'core values' of a Labour MP than David Miliband, for example. If (when?) one of the other careerists is crowned leader I think the transformation of Labour into New Labour will be complete. Union support will wane and the two biggest parties' executives will only represent the middle class. I say all this from an outside perspective as a non-Party member, btw.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Day four and, finally, someone's started talking about policy. What does it say about the other candidates? Maybe they don't have any policies? Or maybe they're ashamed about the policies they've voted for

Labour Left said...

It's a sad indictment of the Labour Party when Diane Abbott is the most left-wing candidate. You can't really argue with her voting record, but her personal principles seem somewhat skewed. Claiming your son to public school is not compatible with your politics if you claim to be socialist.

Also, I hate to focus on personality, but she does come across as and arrogant and condescending sod

debord said...

Of course the public school thing is an issue - but in the grand scheme of things I think it's a pretty irrelevant one, and one that people have managed to get over with countless Labour politicians. She's acknowledged that it was hypocritical and explained why she did it, and while I might disagree with what she did ultimately I think the policies and vision of society are far more important.

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