A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, June 11, 2007

One Diane is quite enough

I'm a big supporter of having a more diverse PLP, and particularly of improving on the current derisory number of BME women MPs.

However, I'm not sure that Jackie Ashley's call for Parliament to have more Diane Abbotts will aid the cause of BME women's representation.

Diane has a unique set of qualities as a politician - but they are her personal qualities, not ones that apply to every BME woman.

We need ethnic minority women MPs from all wings of the Labour Party, rebels and loyalists, media stars and conscientious constituency campaigners, loud and quiet. We particularly need BME women MPs with an approach to politics that, in contrast to Diane's self-created role as the perpetual outsider and oppositionalist, will see them become Whips and Ministers and involved in creating policy, not protesting about it.

To her credit, Diane is actually pretty supportive of BME candidates who don't share her style or politics - she backed David Lammy who was obviously the New Labour candidate in the Tottenham by-election selection because she wanted to see a bright young Afro-Caribbean man get into Parliament even if he didn't share her politics - though she doesn't extend this to Trevor Phillips who she had a go at at our GC when he came up for reselection to the GLA a few years back.

There are quite a few excellent BME women trying to get selected this time round - people like Dora Dixon-Fyle from Southwark, Sonika Nirwal from Ealing, and Nargis Khan from my own borough. I think they'd all be a bit put out by Jackie Ashley trying to define them as extra Diane Abbotts. Diane Abbott might not be too happy either.


Anonymous hackneysista said...


That's absolute bollocks. You'll be relieved to hear this isn't a personal attack against you but I can speak for a number of BME women in the Labour Party when I say the following:

Diane is quite good at advancing the interests of people who she deems suitable and that's it. Anyone else is made to feel less than welcome, particularly if they're not mired in the politics or organisational grant-grabbing from a certain era.

I would hardly have had you down as someone wanting to defend her so don't give her credit she doesn't deserve (David Lammy was tight with the late Bernie Grant, she could hardly have not noticed that).

1:45 pm, June 11, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diane failed to support Trevor Phillips as he sent his son to a private school. I support her adherence to socialist values.

1:58 pm, June 11, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I was trying to be balanced!

1:58 pm, June 11, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

Diane would be a bloody good Minister and all things are now possible. Her politics are quite flexible and she can probably handle collective responsibility if given the opportunity.

There are load of excellent BME women candidates. They have an uphill struggle even under AWS. There are lots of reasons for that. Not good reasons, but reasons.

2:26 pm, June 11, 2007

Anonymous charlie said...

"Diane failed to support Trevor Phillips as he sent his son to a private school."

I'm a little confused! Why is this an issue?

2:42 pm, June 11, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Luke on this. Diane is far too busy carving out a lucrative media career for herself to bother about supporting other black women. I should know. In the '90s in Hackney, a number of us aspiring black young women were introduced to her, so she could offer us mentoring/ advice. She wasn't bothered and made it clear she was too busy to meet us.
Diane is only interested in Diane. She is a lazy constituency MP. Joke is she slammed everyone else about where they sent their kids - non went to the lengths of City of London Boys- yeah really mulitcultural! Why doesn't she stand down as an MP, and get on with earning megabucks with Portillo?

3:08 pm, June 11, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

From her Wikipedia entry:-

"Abbott was also heavily criticised for an April 9, 2006 article for the Jamaica Observer in which she compared her parents' home country of Jamaica to Nigeria, criticising multiple aspects and ills of Nigerian society in the process.

"As it circulated around the Internet, criticial responses were written by Nigerian bloggers and journalists, particularly railing on the fact that her own constituency was comprised of a significant Nigerian minority."

A charming lass!

I'd imagine the right of the party hate her for being a leftie, and the left hate her for being a hypocrite (sending her son to a private school) & cosying up to Michael Portillo.

Does anyone actually like her?

4:18 pm, June 11, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'd imagine the right of the party hate her for being a leftie, and the left hate her for being a hypocrite (sending her son to a private school) & cosying up to Michael Portillo."

That's a fair summary, fellow anonymous.

She's a fake lefty if I ever saw one.

4:20 pm, June 11, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fellow anon,

You'd be surprised (cf. Chris Paul here) - in spite of her numerous failings and selling outs, she remains unfathomably popular both on the left and among the liberal bruschetta classes, most probably because the far left lacks charisma or telegenity so she's hoist forward as their only articulate member.

4:40 pm, June 11, 2007

Anonymous Innocent Abroad said...

Well, I like her. Remember that back in the 1980s - most of you can't, I know, it's not your fault - the Labour Party Black Sections thought that Ernie Roberts was the only decent white MP there was, and the "line" was not to run a candidate against him. Diane thought they were a bunch of sexists and seized an opportunity. Imposing an independently minded but effectively un-deselectable MP (right, Luke?) on the Hackney North CLP gives me a warm glow more than 20 years later...

Mind you, she's wrong to compare Jamaica with Nigeria. There's no oil in Jamaica.

8:25 pm, June 11, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would Lord Birt say?

9:10 pm, June 11, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

lanmmy is just so awful, i have spent many hours arguing with my mates in the plp about black and bme reprsentation in the party; my partner is a muslim, dianne at least makes makes my partner feel he is a part of society, other than ruth kelly, she really has set the democratic left so far back i hope that she will not be part of gordons governement.

11:41 pm, June 11, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that she [Ruth Kelly] will not be part of gordons governement.

Hear, hear, anon 11:41.

As far as I'm concerned, so long as Gordon gets rid of Patricia Hewitt as well he can do whatever the hell he likes!

4:18 pm, June 12, 2007

Anonymous observer's friend said...

"Does anyone actually like her?"

My mother likes Diane Abbott - but then my mother is a Tory!

4:29 pm, June 12, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you hear that the campaign office of Hazel Blears has collapsed?

Bit of a metaphor for the whole campaign, no?

5:56 pm, June 12, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when she held a christening party for son James at the home of her good friend, and her son's godfather, Jonathan Aitken. Old diehard Hackney North comrade,Greta Karpin, was spitting blood, and told everyone that she was the only Labour Party member there that evening. That says more about Diane's aspirations, than the sham 'hard left' cloak she's donned ever since.

11:34 pm, June 12, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jonathan Aitken? Isn't he the honourable chap who made that notorious speech: "If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play, so be it. I am ready for the fight. The fight against falsehood and those who peddle it. My fight begins today. Thank you and good afternoon."

If she's rubbing shoulders with chaps like that, she can't be all bad ... can she?

2:58 am, June 13, 2007


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