On Wednesday, John McDonnell, whom I was supporting for the Labour Party leadership, pulled out of the contest. He and most of his supporters transferred their nominations to Diane Abbott, catapulting her from last place to near the threshold. In my last post, I outlined why it would be good to have Abbott on the ballot paper.
Wednesday 9 June is the closing date for nominations for the Labour leadership. In the meantime, Harriet Harman has been doing a not-too-bad job as acting leader. Just like Margaret Beckett before her, Harman’s stint in charge is merely a caretaking role, and the best a woman has ever got in the Labour Party.
Of the six candidates up for nomination, we have only one woman, and Diane Abbott is currently in last position with only eleven nominations (including Harriet Harman and Jon Cruddas). She is also the only black candidate: an unenviable intersectionality in the patriarchal den that still goes for parliament in this country.
The Labour Party faces the challenge of mounting a strong opposition to the Con Dem government and taking the lead when the public outcry against savage spending cuts comes. The Con Dems, however, can return these with interest using one simple play: it’s all New Labour’s fault. Of course, New Labour cannot be wholly blamed for our country’s financial situation, but The Current Bun and The Daily Hate don’t bother with those niceties. If Labour try to mount an opposition, the Con Dems will decry the record of the New Labour government. If Labour try to spearhead the campaign against cuts, the Con Dems merely have to suggest that the last government made such cuts neccessary.
As with the dying days of John Major’s government, Gordon Brown’s premiership was inhabited by ghosts: politicians lacking purpose or principle. It was only in the last few days of the general-election campaign that Cabinet ministers started to rediscover that they had some principles: like pearls, discovered after a very lengthy bothering over intense iritations.