Home > General Politics, Labour Party News, Sectariana, Socialism, Trade Unions > A short note on Diane Abbott’s campaigning tactics…

A short note on Diane Abbott’s campaigning tactics…

John McDonnell for Leader

Having looked at several articles written by Diane Abbott since her announcement that she’ll contest Labour’s leadership, most recently in the Independent, I’ve become quite irked by her strategy. This seems to be: lump everyone as a New Labourite and don’t mention John McDonnell.

Which makes perfect sense, really, as she has no policies at all that John doesn’t top when it comes to the things she’s hanging her hat on: not being New Labour, party democracy, being anti-Iraq War, not being opposed to immigration, housing, jobs and civil liberties. All of these I’ve cribbed from her writings.

Even her supporters seem to have missed this. Thus, from Laurie Penny:

Diane Abbott is a pro-choice heroine, who attempted to force her party into granting Northern Irish women the right to even a measure of reproductive self-determination in 2008, who opposed Trident replacement, ID cards, Labour’s anti-terrorism laws and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is anti-war, pro-woman, pro-equality and a socialist, and she’s also very funny on the telly, and the London electorate knows all too well how much that helps. I will be joining the Labour Party again in order to vote for Abbott, and I will probably be volunteering for her campaign. You should too. Diane for King.

All of which John McDonnell qualifies for as well. That amendment to the HFE Bill, which Ms Abbott tabled in 2008? It was supported by John and LRC colleague Katy Clarke. And as for the rest, John’s record is sterling – matched only by his LRC comrades.

Why anyone would jump on Diane’s bandwagon in such gung-ho fashion, when a serious Left MP had already declared (having both campaigned for it before when Ms Abbott said she’d likely vote for Brown and having members’ backing), is beyond me.

Laurie Penny is obviously not responsible for Diane’s own failure to mention that there’s someone better qualified in all the things she aims to represent, but it doesn’t help. Whilst John McDonnell supporters may face a charge of bloody singlemindedness with regard to his leadership bid, it is certainly sheer arrogance to simply attempt ignoring the opposition – a strategy which began on day one, with Ms Abbott’s accusation that John had already conceded.


Meanwhile, John has welcomed Diane Abbott’s participation in the race – as it may well drive the discussion to the Left, and will certainly give a stronger voice to those who don’t want to be associated with the anti-immigrant bullshit coming out of Andy Burnham’s mouth, and who want to give the lie to the vague platitudes coming out of the Milibands on trades unions and the working class.

Yet at a time when the labour movement is gearing up to fight the government and private industry on a range of subjects, it’d probably be helpful if Labour’s leader was someone with a strong link to the trades unions. And John McDonnell is supported by the United Left, with the endorsement of both Jerry Hicks and Paul Holmes. I’d surmise that McDonnell would also command the support of other Left candidates in the unions, like SP member Roger Bannister.

Call me biased but I think the Left has a solid candidate for the coming challenges, and it ain’t Diane Abbott.

  1. May 21, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    “Why anyone would jump on Diane’s bandwagon in such gung-ho fashion, when a serious Left MP had already declared”

    I can answer that for you, easily: In case you hadn’t noticed, he is also white and male. If that is the only representation that matters in the Labour party then it’s a sad day for Britain. I have never liked the woman, but at least she gives women a presence in this contest and reminds all the men that there are also women voters out there! We are not all invisible!

  2. May 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Yes I did notice he is white and male. And yes, I noticed that Diane Abbott is black and a woman. I don’t see that it matters – I see their respective politics, and John, despite not being a woman, is an ardent feminist. He is a committed socialist. He is a trades unionist to the core.

    It would be a sadder day, surely, if Labourites were arguing that the only or the main reason to support ANY candidate was their gender or colour?

  3. attila
    May 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    problem with John is that he wont get the nominations. And even if he did make headway the media would crucify him with his pro IRA comments.

  4. May 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    We really don’t know whether John will or won’t get the nominations. There’s a lot still to play for – we can hope that union pressure will see MPs who receive support directly from unions will nominate him, whether they support him or not.

    And if he did, the IRA comments in this day and age are an irrelevance – but which are understandable to a lot of people who lived through that era and were radicalised by the actions of the British Army in Northern Ireland.

    I’m no fan of the IRA and I hate the sort of leftish dilettantism which saw people flirt with them (most notably the SWP) but I don’t think this’ll count against John bearing in mind how many other things he’s word-perfect on.

  5. ahmed
    May 21, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Using the expression to commend McDonnell that he is ‘whiter-than-white’, is really stupid, at best.

    Have you never read any Malcolm X?

  6. May 21, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Plenty. Seeing racism under the bed are we? The point about the conditioning of our language is not lost on me, I’m simply saying it couldn’t matter less in this instance. I’ll edit it, however, as I’m not trying to give offence and I dont want that impression to come across, for a change

  7. May 21, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    If we’re talking about how much more inclusive and diverse Diane Abbot has made this contest it’s worth noting that, like virtually the entire political class and almost every Prime Minister, she is an Oxbridge graduate. The likely outcome of the leadership election is a situation where the leaders of all three main parties are graduates of the same university!

    In fact, John McDonnell is the only candidate running for Labour leadership who isn’t an Oxbridge graduate. Unfortunately for him diversity is never thought about in those terms.

  8. May 21, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Apologies, I’ve just realised Nick Clegg is a Cambridge, not an Oxford graduate so if Dianne Abbot wins we have a real chance to go some way to addressing the serious under-representation of Cambridge graduates in the office of Prime Minister.

  9. May 22, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Ahh jesus, more sectarianism. Precisely what I argued against yesterday.

    Why anyone would jump on Diane’s bandwagon in such gung-ho fashion, when a serious Left MP had already declared (having both campaigned for it before when Ms Abbott said she’d likely vote for Brown and having members’ backing), is beyond me.

    While I’d like a left candidate to get on the list, there is a simple fact also working against John: he didn’t get nominated last time.

    And then there were a lot more comrades around.

    I despair because it reminds of crabs in a bucket – each just wants to pull the other down…

  10. May 22, 2010 at 12:33 am

    In fact, John McDonnell is the only candidate running for Labour leadership who isn’t an Oxbridge graduate. Unfortunately for him diversity is never thought about in those terms.

    So do you care about diversity or not? Or of only one kind?

  11. May 22, 2010 at 1:33 am

    voting for the colour of person is what got the Mexican conservative vote a fucking great shock in the states, McDonnell was on Any Questions? tonight saying that the leadership choice in the lab party should have more diversity, and I can see what he means, but don’t vote for correctness apeasement, vote for socialism – now is the time for socialism

  12. May 22, 2010 at 7:11 am

    Carl, couldn’t agree more.

    Sunny, I don’t think you understand what the word ‘sectarianism’ means. If any of the above was sectarian, I wouldn’t bother putting together reasoned arguments about McDonnell or Abbott. I am not blindly attached to John McDonnell, and accusing me of such an attachment is insulting. What I notice is that you haven’t actually answered any of the points I made – far from being about pulling the other crabs in the jar down,they are quite reasonable.

    Incidentally, why does Diane Abbott announcing her candidature for which there is already a Left candidate not count for your crabs in a jar metaphor?

    Lastly, I suspect Duncan’s comment is tongue in cheek; he’s not taking a position on diversity, he’s pointing out the inconsistency of those who are.

  13. Rai
    May 22, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    John McDonnell voted for the Digital Economy Bill one of the vilest pieces of corporate filth to come through parliament in a good while.

    Funny how St. John gets a pass on that, especially as it was only a couple of months ago, as opposed to Diane’s school decision which happened in the early part of the ’00s.

  14. May 22, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I agree with Dave.

    Even though I’m a soft/moderate leftist and probably wouldn’t vote for either of them, it’s obvious to me that McDonnell is the serious and credible socialist candidate and Abbott is ridiculous in many ways.

    I’m glad Abbott is running but I would want to see both her and McDonnell get nominated (unlikely, I appreciate) so that party members get presented with as much choice as possible.

    One of the reasons for this is of course to encouarge diversity in all its wonderful ways: Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone openly gay run for party leader, for example?

    Although skin colour/sex/class/professional background will always count for something we shouldn’t forget that ultimately this contest must be about each candidate’s political programme.

  15. May 22, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Most people find it difficult to get passionate about the DEB. Education and political hypocrisy are of fundamental importance.

  16. Mil
    May 22, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    We’re going off-topic here, but here goes anyway:

    Jako :
    Most people find it difficult to get passionate about the DEB. Education and political hypocrisy are of fundamental importance.

    Re: the DEB – more’s the pity, because more and more important these days are the software constitutions that define and frame both our on- and offline worlds. The legislative activities of those traditional repositories of wisdom that were the Houses of Parliament are becoming increasingly irrelevant – and our rights and responsibilities are instead being inscribed by programmers and software designers who work for private companies which work for private companies. The sad thing about the DEB is not that anyone passed it but – rather – that so few thought to point out how irrelevant parliamentary legislation can get. An example of King Canutism at its worst, in fact.

    In relation to the leadership campaign itself, I’m afraid the total absence of any serious discussion about how we should structure the relationships between the different parts that make up an organisation like the Labour Party is really disappointing me. It’s almost as if they think all we need to do is shuffle the faces around and everything will sort itself out. This is most definitely not going to work if the model to follow is Blair. People still remember Blair, for goodness sake. Anything which smacks of an intellectual rendition to the power of emotion will surely be given short shrift.

    All most uninspiring. Intellectually speaking, I mean – of course.

  1. April 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 145 other followers

%d bloggers like this: