No matter who ends up as the new Labour leader, they will have their work cut out for them. But what distinguishes the candidates to pick one as a leader? It’s true the current candidates do all kind of look the same on paper. As John Harris points out, they are “largely made up of Oxbridge-educated, fortysomething white men, whose adult lives have mostly been played out in SW1.”
Hence, I must admit I was a bit surprised when Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, announced she was standing for Labour party leadership. To be honest, I’ve always known her as Diane Abbott of BBC1’s This Week.
That said, she could be the one to bridge the gap in several key issues such as the immigration system, which is still far from perfect (or fair, but then again, what system is?), and brings many years of trade union experience. Perhaps more significantly, Labour has long campaigned for women’s rights, yet has not empowered them to become leaders. Therefore, regardless of if Abbott succeeds in the race, she is also paving the way for future women to stand for leadership.
So, who then, will I be backing? I really would like to say Diane Abbott, but sadly, I do not think she has a good chance of winning the race. However, more importantly, Labour needs someone who can reunify them and in view of the rapid change of events on the ground, I would have to go with Andy Burnham, current Leigh MP. While everyone else is distancing themselves from the Blair-Brown years he has backed the former leaders, insisting that they did a lot right for Britain. Burnham gives credit where it’s due and I’m confident that given time, he will be able to hone and renew Labour’s message in his own way.