The Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott, has announced on BBC’s Radio Four ‘Today’ programme that she will be standing in the party’s leadership election campaign. In an interview with James Naughtie she said:
“I’m going to run. So many people in the past 48 hours have asked me to put my hat in the ring and I have finally decided to do so. […] We can’t go forward with a leadership debate where there is no woman”
Ms Abbott wants to broaden the debate. She is the first woman to enter the race to succeed former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and is confident of attracting the 33 nominations needed to get her on to the ballot paper. She joins David Miliband, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, John McDonnell and Andy Burnham as the sixth declared candidate.
It is understood that there had been concern among party activists at the lack of a female challenger. She told millions of radio listeners this morning:
“We need to speak to our supporters and speak to our members in a way that we are not speaking to them up until now.”
Diane Abbott was the first black woman MP to be elected to the House of Commons in 1987. She is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group and has been an enormously popular MP in Hackney. She has a very strong national media profile and is presenter/analyst along with Michael Portillo on the BBC television politics programme, ‘This Week’ hosted by Andrew Neil.