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Diane Abbott: “Candidate selection will strangle the left”

Abbott: change needed

Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, has criticised the Labour Party leader nomination system branding it as ‘ridiculous’, and has said its structure is designed to “strangle the left”.

An article in today’s Times reports Abbott’s criticisms of the current system-a system which at present requires 33 nominations in order for candidates to have their name on the ballot paper.

To date Abbott has 7 nominations and John McDonnell MP has 10. Both have a tough fight on their hands with only days to go until the nominations close. Andy Burnham MP also has distance to cover having secured 21 nominations, 12 short of the golden number.

Abbott has hit out at the nomination process labelling it as a process which looks to select a leader from “the narrowest gene pool in history”.

The candidates who have so far made the cut are the Milband brothers and Ed Balls. Abbott described the nomination of both Miliband brothers as “undoubtedly heartwarming for Mrs Miliband that two-thirds of the candidates are her lads … (but) there are things to make the rest of us pause”.

She continued:

“That they are all white may be inconsequential; it may be of only passing interest that all were political advisers under New Labour and that none has had a proper job; it is probably of only minor significance that they all used to play football together.

“Probably more salient is that you cannot put a cigarette paper between their beliefs. But most blindingly obvious is that there will not be a single woman on the ballot paper”

Abbott went further in a frank assessment of a system designed by Charles Clarke in his own words according to Abbott to “block the left”.

Abbott’s argument and presence comes at a time when it is sorely needed in British politics.

The current cabinet is neither gender balanced nor reflective of the diverse population that makes up Britain-and this is not good enough.

More than half the cabinet members have received a private education that most cannot afford, although the coalition would hit back and say they have the most state educated ministers.

Regardless, Abbott’s point is clear to see. She has underlined it in the backdrop of Harriet Harman’s call yesterday for a reduced shadow cabinet, that would enable a 50 -50 split between men and women.

By Richard Sudan

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