Diane Abbott received the support of the London and Eastern Political Committee. The fact that Diane attended the hustings and gave as good an account of herself as any of the others, in some areas even exposing her Leftist leanings, was why we opted for her.
Ed Balls take on the deficit were probably more to our liking. That is rather than, Diane Abbott’s view which is 50% from taxation and 50% from cuts; Balls’ would raise NI, the top rate in income tax and make efficiency savings in the public sector – sure, that’d call for cuts; but, nothing on the scale Abbot proposed; and, nowhere near the levels about to be delivered by the ConDems.
Last week I attended the Vauxhall CLP hustings. Four of the leadership candidates sent along representatives – two were former Labour ministers; and one, quite refreshingly an 18-year old researcher. Diane Abbott didn’t deem this hustings important enough to send anyone; indeed, she didn’t even send a letter for the Chair to read out on her behalf.
It’s not as though Diane doesn’t know anyone in the CLP. She knows Kingsley; and, she knows me after Kingsley introduced us at the hustings two-weeks ago. Why didn’t she ask Kings or me to speak on her behalf – a simple script would have sufficed. Despite this I voted for Diane; and, she still managed to poll around 4-votes.
By this Saturday, the day of the Unite NPC, the word was out that Ed Milliband should be the preferred candidate. If you’re not aware, the NPC has a built-in right-wing majority. Add to this the fact that around 8 United Left members of the Committee were absent; we had a stark choice.
The overwhelming right majority wasn’t going to entertain Diane; and, we were a pitiful minority. Chances are that had we pushed for Abbott; the hard rightists may have gone for their (real preferred) choice, David Milliband. As it was there was a real sense amongst the NPC that the soft right would support Ed Milliband; but, under no circumstances Diane Abbott.
When confronted with such dilemmas it is sometimes prudent to opt for a lesser evil. That’s what we did.
As for the Executive; they didn’t really have a choice given that the NPC had voted by 24 to 4 to 4 to 1 to 1 for EM. Had the vote been closer; then they could have argued there was no mandate; but, for one candidate to beat his nearest opponents by 20 in a 5-way ballot where only 34 votes were cast – I rest my case...