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Black MP's bid for Labour leadership
Thu, 10 Jun 2010 08:36:11 GMT
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Diane Abbott/Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Diane Abbott, the first black women to be elected to British Parliament in 1987, has made it onto the ballot as a candidate for the Labour leadership position.

Ms. Abbott will be taking on four white, male candidates for the coveted position of Party leadership in a 15-week campaign ending on September 25. Her achievement in gaining 33 MP nominations came at the last minute from unlikely sources as the ballot closed yesterday, with Harriet Harman, Labour's current leader, and David Miliband, another contender, transferring their nomination to her.

The withdrawal of John McDonnell from the race, after joking that he would be glad to go back to the 1980s and "assassinate Thatcher," helped to boost Ms. Abbott who started out yesterday with just 11 nominations.

Aside from misspelling Ms. Abbott's name as “Dianne” on the nomination paper, David Miliband may have had his own self-interests in mind by helping her to gain candidacy in the race. Mr. Miliband's team had spent the previous night discussing whether her candidacy would help or hinder him.

Mr. Miliband took apparent pride in claiming to help make her candidacy a “historic day for diversity in Britain.”

If elected, Ms. Abbott said she would stand out on issues related to immigration and her long opposition to the Iraq war, denying claims that her candidacy amounted to tokenism.

“If, after 23 years, I haven't earned the right to stand for the leadership, then nothing counts for anything,” she said.

LF/MB

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