Harman: Leadership battle needs a woman
‘I’m worried, mother. Even with his hefty pay-off and index-linked pension,
he’s inconsolable and locked himself in the front room.’
HARRIET Harman, Labour’s acting leader, has gone back on her pledge to stay out of the leadership contest by dramatically nominating Diane Abbott.
Supporters of the only female candidate hope Miss Harman’s intervention will convince undecided MPs to help Miss Abbott on to the ballot paper.
Nominations for the leadership close today, with every candidate needing at least 33 supporters to get through to the next round.
Last night, brothers David and Ed Miliband had enough votes, along with former Schools Secretary Ed Balls.
Andy Burnham, the former Health Secretary who has made much of his comprehensive school background and is just two nominations short, was poised to squeeze over the threshold.
But Miss Abbott – Britain’s first black female MP – had just 11 nominations yesterday afternoon, including that of Miss Harman. She is regarded as too far on the Left of the party to be a credible leader, while her decision to send her son to a fee-paying school has angered colleagues.
But the prospect of a contest reduced to three or four white men, all in their early 40s and two of whom are related, worries some in the party.
Insiders said Labour had considered lowering the thresh- old for nominations to allow a wider contest.
Feminist Miss Harman has insisted she will not cast her vote in the final round – but wants to nominate Miss Abbott to stop the contest being an allmale affair.
A spokesman for Miss Harman said: ‘The Labour Party knows that whoever wins the leadership contest, there will not be a men-only leadership at the top of the Labour Party as Harriet will continue in her role as deputy leader.
‘However, she feels that the party does not want the leadership election, and the debate that it will generate, to be men only.
‘Harriet will play no part in the eventual outcome as she will not cast her vote. She will continue to serve as deputy leader alongside whoever wins. Therefore, she has nominated Diane.’
Contender: Diane Abbott