Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Labour Leadership - who would you vote for?

Well, of course I don't have a vote, but if I did it would be emphatically cast for Diane Abbott. Not because I agree with everything she says. Far from it. But because she has earned my respect over many years for not conforming in a party that demands conformity and sheep like behaviour when in vicinity of voting lobbies.

Let's look at what she had to say on the issue of 42 days' detention - a speech that tugs at the heart strings of any Liberal Democrat, a speech so good that Liberty put it on their website.

This stuff is, well, wow!

I am a Londoner and I heard the last major IRA bomb, at Canary Wharf, from my kitchen in east London. Like thousands of Londoners, I waited for the early-morning call that assured me that friends and family on their way to work and school had not been caught up in those bombings. I will not take lectures from ministers about not taking terrorism seriously.

I do not believe, as ministers continue to insist, that there is some trade-off between our liberties and the safety of the realm. What makes us free is what makes us safe, and what makes us safe is what will make us free.

and then this:

I came into politics because of my concern about the relationship of the state to communities that are marginalised and suspected. It is easy to stand up for the civil liberties of our friends or of people in our trade union, but it is not easy to stand up for the civil liberties of people who are unpopular, suspected and look suspicious—people the tabloids print a horror story about every day.

However, it is a test of parliament that we are willing to stand up for the civil liberties of the marginalised, the suspect and the unpopular.

I came into politics about those issues, and I believe that if there is any content at all in ministers' constant speeches about community cohesion we must offer every part of our community not just the appearance but the reality of justice and equality before the law.

Seriously, read the whole thing.

And on top of all that, she even voted against the Digital Economy Act.
. She is good and if she won, she'd have some serious tanks to park on our lawn.

The chivalrous rush of rival candidates to get Diane Abbott on to the ballot would never have happened if any, of them thought she could win. And to be honest, from their point of view it's such tokenism that it's actually worse than our presenting our members with a choice of 2 middle class white males.

She's the only candidate, though, who represents a break with the past and who wasn't a part of the Government which has wreaked such havoc in the last 13 years. She's the only candidate who actually voted against the Iraq war. While the others have been swift to distance themselves from the worst of new Labour's excesses, and some have even sought out new depths to stoop to, Diane is the only one who can say on most of the issues that "it wisnae me".

There's a bit of me who wants to see her win, partly to puncture the smugness of the others, and partly because you'd hope that it would lead to a more mature politics, where genuine debate and discussion was the norm rather than the exception.

Among the rest we have Ed Balls, who Cameron completely skewered today, calling him the Alf Garnett of British politics. I mean, it's got to be bad if that comes from a Tory. David Miliband - the man who chickened out of challenging Brown in Summer 2008 and from then on had journalists camping on his doorstep every time there was a hint of rebellion in the air. He bottled it just like Brown did when it came down to it. I also just don't warm to him at all. His brother Ed - what's that all about - seems to be the more genuine and sympathetic a personality of the two brothers but tell me, what exactly did he achieve at Energy and Climate Change? As for Andy Burnham, well, ditto? If those four were a meal, they'd be polenta added with a side order of cous cous without any flavouring and no side salad.

I'm really disappointed that two people from the previous Cabinet have not bothered to enter the contest - Harriet Harman and Alan Johnson. I always used to look forward to PMQs when it was Harman, Hague and The Almighty Vince, it was always much more intelligent and lighter, I think. As for Johnson, well, Brown did well to put him in the graveyeard job of Home Secretary, but he could have injected some much needed personality and humour into the contest.

There's a long way to go, but I have yet to see anything that sounds like an original idea from any of the candidates. This is a party that thinks it can put its feet up for five years and point, laugh and be as destructive as possible. They think bucketloads of bile will win them the next election. We'll see, though, whether they can bring themselves back from the party that trashed the place and left everyone else to mop up the mess. How do they make themselves credible again?

It's a long time until the ballots are counted on 25th September. Let's see whether the campaign inspires or drags on. I'm not holding my breath.

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