Diane Abbott - a qualified thumbs up
So Abbott's through, whereas leftwing standard-bearer, John McDonnell has withdrawn from the leadership race.
Over at Labour Uncut she had this to say about McDonnell's standing for the leadership:
"There always was a tendency to say that if women stood it split the vote. I think that there is the politics that I’m on the left, and have as good a voting record on left wing issues as John McDonnell, but there’s another issue which is about gender. It’s not so much that I stood against John, but that John stood against me."
"I think it would have been easier if he hadn’t stood. If he was committed to gender issues it would have been easier if he hadn’t. Initially, it was very difficult for either of us to gain momentum. If there’d been just one of us standing then that person would have gained momentum much quicker."
I'm a Cruddas camp follower not a McDonnellite. Nonetheless I find Diane Abbott's remarks quite outrageous. John McDonnell not only launched his leadership bid before Diane Abbott; he was also the only Labour MP with the guts to challenge Gordon Brown's coronation in 2007.
Similarly, Abbott's contention that her voting record on leftwing issues is as good as McDonnell's is technically correct but glosses over their political differences. For as her choice of secondary school for her son showed, Abbott is sufficiently intellectually flexible to make decisions seemingly at odds with her political philosophy. She is a pragmatist, in other words, whereas John McDonnell is an ideologue.
None of this is to suggest that I don't welcome La Abbott as a candidate. On the contrary, I do. It is important that an African Caribbean woman is standing for leadership of the Labour Party. Diane Abbott is a formidable politician who has scaled some dizzying political heights by means of sheer gritty determination and the fact that she is incredibly bright. She is a living riposte to all those people who have ever sneered at ethnic minorities.
But it would have been even better if John McDonnell were in it with her. As it is, the parliamentary party has been allowed to screen out an authentically left wing candidate, while paradoxically parading its own diversity and inclusiveness credentials.