In the wake of Labour election trouncing, it was always predictable that Gordon Brown would either (finally) jump or be pushed. It was always predictable that David Milliband would stand as Labour Leader, and even that the two Eds, Milliband and Balls. Andy Burnham and John McDonnell might be considered outsiders, but nevertheless understandable entrants. But Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney and Stoke Newington? Where did that come from?
And her platform? Firstly, that Labour ‘ needs to reconnect with the people’. So where was Ms Abbott while her party were losing touch with them during the last thirteen years – presumably appearing on TV with Michael Portillo? Second, “Labour must admit that the Iraq war was a mistake before it can move on” – what reaction will that draw from the families who lost sons and fathers during the conflict?
And when the new coalition government is preparing to face the biggest programme of public sector cuts to rebalance the economy after years of Labour profligacy, Ms Abbot has declared that she will be the voice arguing that “it’s not about the timing of the cuts, it’s a question of having this level of cuts at all.”
No wonder Alistair Campbell suggests that “Labour would not last five minutes under her leadership”. To go forward, each candidate must hold the support of at least thirty three MPs. David Miliband currently holds fifty four, and his brother Ed holds forty five. Ed Balls has twenty seven, whilst Andy Burnham and John McDonnell boast seventeen and six MPs’ support respectively.
And Ms Abbott? At the start of her leadership campaign she had the support of Tottenham MP David Lammy. Well there’s one anyway…