Thursday, 20 May 2010

Nominate Diane Abbott! (Or McDonnell)

If I was to list the areas on which I see things a bit differently from Diane Abbott then this might be a very long blogpost.

Nominations are not votes. I do hope Labour MPs - whoever they are going to vote for and publicly support - will try to ensure that they give sufficient nominations to give a place on the ballot to a voice in this leadership contest who can offer a perspective which is not that of a former Minister. (I am assuming that both Milibands, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham have declared in the knowledge that they can secure the 33 nominations they need to run, though this may not yet be guaranteed in every case).

John McDonnell could also prove a left voice.

It is not really my place to get into a detailed debate within the Campaign Group left about which candidate should run. It would also be a good thing if there was not an all male contest, but that is not only the responsibility of the party's left flank.

So I do hope that most Abbott or McDonnell backers would also be willing to back the alternative candidate if they are most likely to get into the contest, rather than having two insufficient groups of nominations. And perhaps Tony Lloyd as the Chair of the PLP could try to actively gather together MPs (whether pledged to support other candidates or not) who are interested in making nominations in the cause of a broader and more open contest, and who could then offer a pool of MPs who might consider "topping up" candidates who fall a little short just before deadline day.

Few people have noticed that McDonnell has one slight "experience" edge on the other candidates as the only one to attempt to contest the leadership before. He did not get the nominations to run in 2007 - but, despite that, he does therefore start out with experience of having husted for the leadership, in the Fabian Society debate between Gordon Brown, John McDonnell and Michael Meacher just before nominations opened in 2007. The hustings transcript can be read here.

In particular, Abbott is very critical of my take on race politics - especially in that she is among the most prominent champions of all black shortlists, which I think would now take us backwards. That reflects a substantial disagreement about a range of related issues, though I am very clear that those critical arguments are only in play at all because of the breakthrough made against enormously higher barriers by Abbott and the class of 1987.

If she runs, I may well get the chance to disagree with her approach to increasing diversity in our politics. But it would be a good thing to get to hear the arguments about that and many other issues in the leadership campaign.

4 comments:

Mark said...

It's a pretty sad state of affairs for the left when the best they/we can come up with as a candidate for the leadership is John McDonnell.

jdc said...

Are MPs only allowed to nominate one person, or could a block of 30 MPs determined to do so let everyone through?

Harry Barnes said...

As the closing date for Labour MPs to nominate candidates for the Labour Leadership Election has now been extended to 9th June, two further measures need to be taken.

First, those Labour MPs who have come out in support of specific candidates should withdraw their endorsements until they have consulted the views within the Movement, especially those opinions of the Constituency Parties who have just worked to return them to the Commons.

Secondly, Constituency Parties should set up open meetings for their membership to discuss (a) what they see as the way forward for the Labour Party and (b) to take a vote on whom they favour to become leader. Those Constituency Parties who have Labour MPs should arrange these meetings so that their MP can be in attendance. In these cases meetings are likely to need to fall between 28th and 30th May or 4th to 6th June. It should not be the intention of meetings to instruct their MP on how to act, but for each MP to absorb the ideas and perferences of the membership whilst fully participating in the discussions. All Constituency Parties (whether or not they have Labour MPs) should be encouraged to send their views on ideas and preferences to the NEC of the Labour Party. The NEC findings should then be forwarded to the Parliamentary Labour Party who should hold a meeting to consider these by 8th June.

Ambitious Mamas said...

I am always fearful that the issue of diversity within politics will become (Sunder as you refer to it) 'the politics of and'. A Black Woman is running, two boxes ticked, and then...? I have written about diversity in politics in my own blog. Diane doesn't need to run on these tickets. She's a clever person already.