Political Promise

Be Thankful Diane Abbott Made It

In Aaron Frazer on June 25, 2010 at 4:03 pm

By Aaron Frazer

Is participation without success intrinsically pointless? Such a question struck me when the irreverent and unrepentantly socialist Diane Abbott was given a shot at the Labour leadership. Diane Abbott will not win and no-one including her honestly believes  she will get close. The Labour Party, stripped of its  constrictive  ideological heritage, is a deeply pragmatic party. Because a consensus exists that electability invariably trumps principle, Abbott will, I assume, face the unforgiving and blunt dismissal of the parliamentary party. So assuming that the party members and unions cannot thrust Abbott into the front-running what exactly is the point? Well the benefits of Abbott’s candidacy are multiple and extensive.

Firstly her involvement indicates the partial involvement of a group which has been ostracised by the Labour Party for the better part of 20 years. This is, importantly, not to be interpreted as the ‘hard left’ or some loony fringe collective. It is simply a group of people who, although sympathetic to many of the achievements of Labour, have watched the development of its ideology and its application in terms of policy, with a mixture of bewilderment  and horror. This group  perceive staggering levels of inequality, draconian immigration policy and mass privatisation as not only deeply objectionable but a betrayal of the underlying principles of the Labour Party. Diane Abbott represents this perspective with more conviction, lucidity and passion than almost anyone else. She is the only candidate to consistently and forcefully outline the limits of Labour’s well intentioned social policy objectives beyond the accusation of being too timid or unambitious. In contrast she believes many of them to have been deeply regressive, incoherent or even contradictory.

Abbot has been the only candidate who has forwarded the idea that Labour failed to undercut the BNP by showing dogged perseverance in the area of housing and providing tangible and wide ranging improvements in the social mobility of the working class. She has also commendably battled the insidious hysteria which frequents debates of welfare reform. Though her comparison between the expenses saga and benefit fraud was flawed, it is incredibly healthy for the Labour Party to have a prospective leader  arguing that its desire for a more punitive welfare policy is in key respects discriminatory and arbitrary.

In her characteristically lucid and unambiguous way, Diane Abbot has forced open new points of reference by acknowledging the existence and treatment of specific social groups. Despite her comparably briefer coverage, Abbott has talked passionately about the plight of welfare claimants, asylum seekers and the white working class. Such groups have either faced outright stigmatisation or  have been  obscured and ignored by the deceptive euphemisms of New Labour.

Despite her small chance of success these issues are being raised at the very heart of a momentous time in Labours history. Abbott’s non-involvement in the last administration  provides a perspective which is at once external and original and the issues she has raised  will effect the nature of Labours leadership and to a smaller extent, the public’s perception of it. Her brash, irreverent and outspoken personality is also a satisfying antidote to the polished execution and presentation of her rivals.   Diane Abbott repeatedly claimed that the reason she put her name forward was that all the other  candidates “looked the same”. As the leadership competition progresses there will be many who are more appreciative of the fact that not only does she not look the same, she does not sound the same either.

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  1. She’s not the same but not any better, she’s probably worse as she’s an utter hypocrite. She purports to stand up for women and against racism but remember the attack on Finnish nurses simply because they were “blonde haired, blue eyed girls”. She also claimed “White women teachers are failing black schoolboys because they are frightened of them”. So twice she has attacked groups of white female workers plus she attacked Harriet Harman for using selective schools but then claimed it was fine to her send her kid to a private school as West Indian women would go the wall for their kids. When Andrew Neil asked her if she thought white women would do the same she refused to answer the question. It is really hard to escape the conclusion that she is a racist who has a problem with white women.

  2. Diane Abbott and people like her, have brought the left of politics to its lowest ebb. They are as cynical and as conniving as Blair. Despising of the “Working Class” (whatever that is), yet claiming to represent “working class politics”. The left is incredibly broken and needs to re-engage with ordinary people and there needs. Abbott certainly will not do that.

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