Harman: Lead­er­ship bat­tle needs a woman

Daily Mail - - sandra Parsons - By Gerri Peev Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent g.peev@dai­ly­mail.co.uk

‘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

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