Feminists: Why you should join Labour to vote Diane

by Lynne Miles // 15 July 2010, 11:25

Tags: Diane Abbott, Labour, Leadership Contest 2010

Diane Abbott is standing for the leadership of the Labour party. She's the only candidate with a record of activism for social justice. You may not realise you can influence the outcome of the election but you can: even if you’re not a Party member already, you can join the now from just £1 and be allowed to vote. Lynne Miles and Chitra Nagarajan think you should. This is why.


We're writing this as two feminist activists who live in Diane's Hackney constituency. We're both natural Labour supporters who have always been ambivalent about the Labour Party. Nevertheless, we joined after the election, partly to vote for Diane, and now we've signed up to help her grassroots campaign. We've been activists for years and we feel that now is the time to step up and change the system from the inside as well as criticising it. We marched and protested during the Labour years but we know that we'll do it a lot more under the coalition government. For all its faults, the Labour Party has been, and remains, the best hope for social justice and equality in this country. Think about this: what would the UK look like today without the Labour movement's legacy? No NHS, no votes for women, no free universal education, no minimum wage? But it needs to be better. We have five candidates standing for the leadership. Four of them offer the same predictable mix of New Labour good and bad. Diane Abbott offers something exciting and genuinely different.

We have seen first-hand the good she has done for the community and specifically the most disadvantaged people who live here. Over Labour's 13 years in power, Diane supported the best of Labour's policies (SureStart, the Equalities Act, civil partnerships) and publicly criticised the worst (Iraq, outsourcing torture, ID cards).

She was an activist before she was a politician, and she's a proud feminist. She is pro-choice, she spoke out against Labour's benefit cuts for single mothers, and she is active in campaigns to improve school achievement for black inner city children. We’ve also been impressed by the number of local people we've seen stop and thank her for helping them.

If Diane is going to win, it is because she is bringing people into the party. Feminists can help her: we can join the Labour Party for as little as £1, and we can vote for her. The rules state that anyone who joins up to and including the 8th September has a vote. The other candidates are career politicians who have been lining up their leadership bids for months, even years. They have wealthy sponsors and large, professional campaign teams. But none of them are inspiring enough that people will join the party just to vote for them.

We think Diane is.

There are an estimated 175,000 members of the Labour Party, of which almost 25,000 have joined since the start of the election. New members could decide the outcome. There are tens, even hundreds of thousands of feminists in this country. We're enough to make a difference. Even if Diane doesn't win, the more votes she gets, the more influential she will be in shaping the future of the Party.

She is a politician in the best sense of the word: she stands up for what she believes to be right, and what is best for her constituents. Diane represents a real possibility for the Labour party. You're her best chance of bringing it back to its core values. We're asking feminists to do what we did. Join the Party. Vote for Diane Abbott. Tell others to do likewise. Bring feminist voices into the political mainstream.

Lynne Miles and Chitra Nagarajan

To find out more about joining the Labour Party, click here

To find out more about how you can help Diane's grassroots campaign across the UK, click here

Please note: this should always go without saying anyway but, for clarification, what's written here is the opinion of Lynne Miles (F Word Blogger) and Chitra Nagarajan personally: it is not the 'Official F Word View'. Neither is it written in conjunction with the 'Diane 4 Leader' team.

Comments From You

Alex Catgirl // Posted 15 July 2010 at 16:52

Diane Abbott needs to step down as she has proven that she does not place the interests of the UK above all others, which is what our politicians are suppose to do.

How can a politician who has publicly stated that she wishes her son to make a name for himself in another country possibly expect to be taken seriously?

Good activists do not always make for good politicians.

Lynne Miles // Posted 15 July 2010 at 16:58

Hi Catgirl. Not sure if there's something to this story that I'm not aware of (I knew her son was at school in Ghana but that's all) but a) why is it a bad thing for her to want her son to be successful in a place that isn't the UK, and b) how does that translate into her not placing the interests of the UK above all else?

Laura // Posted 15 July 2010 at 17:17

Just wanted to add my support for this; I've joined Labour for exactly the same reasons as Lynne - I want to at least have a go at changing things from the inside instead of lobbying politicians from the outside, and for me that means becoming part of the Labour party to help rectify the damage done by careerist politicians who couldn't even spell "socialism". I think Diane has the potential to make that happen. David Miliblair certainly won't.

SpiralTrance // Posted 15 July 2010 at 17:24

Dianne Abbot claims to fight elitism yet sent her son to a £10,000 year private school. Like all left wing politicans socialism and equality only apply to the little, not there own children.

Alex Catgirl // Posted 15 July 2010 at 17:55

Meh the people who took offence at her sending her son off to school in Ghana are being unreasonable, Britons have been sending their children off to foreign lands to be educated for centuries, I'm attending university in the US for similar reasons, it's suppose to give us a better understanding of the world we live in.

What got her in real trouble was her stating that she wished her son would play football for the West Indies, which ties in to your point b.

What do parents value above all else? Their children. It's why the princes enlist in the armed forces, the greatest gift a family can give a nation is their children....not that parents have any business giving their children away but that's a whole other issue.

I am not saying that Abbot should encourage her son to join the military, or even encourage him try out for the national football league, but for goodness sake she shouldn't be expressing hope that he would compete against us under another nations flag.

SpiralTrance // Posted 15 July 2010 at 18:25

"Alex Catgirl said: Meh the people who took offence at her sending her son off to school in Ghana are being unreasonable"

You sent her son to 'The City Of London School' which is in Londond not Ghana and cost £10k a year. And she had applied to two other private schools as well.

I don't have a problem with people sending there children to private school, but when you'r a left-wing MP that claims to stand for equality, fight elitism and be a strong believer in the state, sending your son to a £10k a year private school makes you a hypocrite of the highest accord.

Like I said in my other post all these strong socialist principles go out of the wondows when it comes to there own children or them having to travel second class.

Open your eyes all the politicans are bent and corrupt be. And you'll never ever empower yourself by surrendering what little power you already to other people which is what 99.999% of the population are doing with politicans.

Lynne Miles // Posted 15 July 2010 at 19:43

I do understand why some people feel let down about the private school thing, and I'm not saying it's of no importance, but I want to explain why, for me, it's a distraction.

Firstly I am in principle opposed to private schools and would not want to send my own (hypothetical) kids to private school, but I do very much understand that if you live in an area where the state schools are very poor, have huge problems of low attainment, gangs etc then it would be VERY hard indeed to send your kids there regardless if you had any choice in the matter whatsoever. I'm also very wary of people who smugly announce their kids would never go to private school when they have the luxury of living in an area where the state schools are excellent (as they are in many places, but often there is selection by house price rather than fee there, since there can be a huge property premium around the best schools). Not saying that any of the commenters above are doing that, as I don't know anything about you.

It must be very, very hard to say that your kids have to 'suffer' for your principles and go to a 'sink school' when you know you have the wherewithal to ensure they don't have to be there. She was a single parent working long hours at a high pressure job with a young black son. Black boys have notorious problems of attainment and slipping into gangs and crimes in Hackney. I know I would find that a huge ethical challenge if I were in the same situation. I don't know what I would do, but I know I would struggle with the choice, and I can understand why she made the choice she did.

The controversy, of course, was that she had previously criticised her colleagues for making the same choice, and that is what she (rightly) apologised for because that was hypocritical.

But, two things.

Firstly, seriously, this was an error of judgement but I think it's blown WAY out of proportion when weighed against the other fantastic things she has done and will do if elected. Not to mention weighed against mistakes that other politicians have made.

Second, I don't think charges of hypocrisy hold in terms of sending her son there in the first place (absenting the criticism of others). She believes in state education, and she has actively fought to improve education in her constituency and across London for her whole political career. Hackney schools have come on leaps and bounds during her and Labour's incumbency. Don't forget, this was some time ago. It might be that today her decision would be different. 5 new schools have opened in Hackney under her watch. She founded the 'London Schools and the Black Child' initiative back in the 1990s (more here. So she hasn't just stood back and washed her hands of the state system, she has been there day in and day out improving it. I think that's a really crucial distinction and one that gets overlooked. She's not saying "state schools are good enough for your kids but not for mine". She's saying "state schools aren't good enough for anybody's kids, but they should be", and she's doing her damnedest to make sure that's the case.

eleanargh // Posted 15 July 2010 at 20:38

I wonder whether London-based F Word writers or readers have any preference yet between Oona King and Ken Livingstone for the 2012 Labour Mayoral candidate?

Lynne Miles // Posted 15 July 2010 at 20:41

Myself I'm a Ken fan, but I don't feel strongly that other people should join the party to nominate him! I quite like Oona too, but I think Ken's pretty uniquely suited to the job.

EmilyBites // Posted 15 July 2010 at 21:46

The private school issue really IS a distraction. It seems to be the only thing Diane's detractors care about, and they are obsessing about it. It's not like it was yesterday, she has admitted it was hypocritical to criticise others for the same thing, and she is out there trying to improve education and opportunities for young black men and boys. Big deal she sent her vulnerable son to the best school she could.

I'd like to support Diane because the thought of a black woman in charge of the Labour party makes me giddy with excitement.

Some white dood called me sexist and racist when I said that, lol. But it IS exciting because she is different to the rest of them and maud knows women and non-white groups aren't exactly being governed with an fair hand here.

polly // Posted 16 July 2010 at 07:42

Two things - firstly I wouldn't vote for anyone just because they're a woman (Margaret Thatcher is a woman, so is Nadine Dorries, so is Edwina Currie, so is Anne Widdecombe).


**Firstly I am in principle opposed to private schools and would not want to send my own (hypothetical) kids to private school, but I do very much understand that if you live in an area where the state schools are very poor, have huge problems of low attainment, gangs etc then it would be VERY hard indeed to send your kids there regardless if you had any choice in the matter whatsoever.**

WHAT? I'd probably have earned a lot more had I gone to a private school and I was actually given the choice when I was 11. My parents outlined the choice (it was a school that was partly state funded and I was being offered an assisted place) and the pros and cons, explained their objections to private education and I said no. But had I gone there I would undoubtedly have gone to Oxbridge and probably be earning a hell of a lot more now. I might even be an MP!

What about if you DON'T have the choice? Do you think these schools get better because middle class people siphon off their kids, leaving only those who can't afford private education?

Her use of private education is the one big reason I would NOT support Abbott.

We are never going to have social change with a government consisting solely of the privileged who perpetuate privilege for their own class. End of.

Sue Gilbert // Posted 16 July 2010 at 10:00

I wonder where the Millibland triplets send their kids to school...
Of course education is a huge issue, but to totally condemn a high profile feminist because of one decision she made, quite a long time ago, and which she has explained and apologised for, is not only very unforgiving, but in this instance very short sighted. The Labour Party needs a woman leader, and Diane Abbott is a strong feminist who would be very good for all of us. She has, as Lynne says, done a great deal for schools in her own constituency. Nobody's perfect and sisters should support each other!

Sheila // Posted 16 July 2010 at 10:15

The private school argument is a red herring and doesn't make Abbott a hypocrite. She fights to improve the system, that doesn't mean she has to live by the system - in fact, it would be illogical. She thinks schools should be improved. If she thought they were hunky dory, she'd send her child there, but she doesn't think that. Yes, it's a shame that schools aren't given enough of a priority to improve their standards, but that's what she's campaigning for. She doesn't have to sacrifice her child in that campaign.

Lynne Miles // Posted 16 July 2010 at 10:49

@Polly - We're not saying vote for her because she's a woman, we're saying vote for her because she's a feminist and we would therefore think that she holds similar views on the issues dear to the hearts of readers of this feminist blog!

We just thought that people would want to know that they can actually have a say in this even if they're not currently party members - because let's face it, it's not often you get a feminist running for what is a precursor to a prime ministerial bid.

Her voting record is here in summary and here in full for those who want to check it out for themselves.

SpiralTrance // Posted 16 July 2010 at 11:47

"Sheila said:

The private school argument is a red herring and doesn't make Abbott a hypocrite. She fights to improve the system, that doesn't mean she has to live by the system"

Yes it does mean she should live by that system unless you believe in a privaliged political class living by 'do as we say not as we do'.

It's very easy for her to talk the talk about equality, feminism and similar issues as she's sat in a 100% safe Labour seat so. The real test of her character is how she applys these principles to herself and on the one real test that's evident to us she fails.

Sheila // Posted 16 July 2010 at 12:03

Would you advocate your daughter marrying a male chauvistic pig whilst campaigning for feminism? Why send your child to a bad school whilst campaigning for good schools?

Kate // Posted 16 July 2010 at 12:05

The real test as I see it is also how appealing she is when her constituency is the entire country, not a very safe Labour seat. I think Diane is right on many topics and is a great activist. But I will not be voting for her as I don't think she could oust Cameron.

And the Miliband kids: 2/3s of them are too young but DM has said his oldest is at a local state school.

Chitra Nagarajan // Posted 16 July 2010 at 12:07

Diane Abbott: sending son to private school

Ed Balls, Ed Milliband, David Milliband, Andy Burnham: serving for/ in a Labour government (and I know they weren't all in the Cabinet when these decisions were taken - but they were involved) that:
a) went to war in Iraq
b) tried to detain suspects for 42 days without trial
c) brought in ID cards for foreign nationals
d) 'may have been' complicit in torture]
e) do I need to continue?

Come on, is the private school thing even an issue in comparison? Yes, it's a shame that we don't live in a country where education quality is not dependent on income/ school. Does Diane accept that? Yes. Does she work to change that? Yes. Other politicians live in good areas or send their children to religious schools so they get an education - they don't have to make a choice between principles and their children's future. Yes, it was lucky for her (and him) that she had that choice in the first place (and she accepts this). But if you had the choice and didn't live in an area where you think your child would have a quality of education that you want for her/ him, it's a very difficult decision to make.

The wishing her son would play for the Windies? That is a complete distraction to me. I would be ecstatic if my daughter or son played for India. Does that make me less British? I don't think so. There needs to be more recognition of the varying and intersecting identities of people living in the UK.

Polly, we didn't base our argument on the fact that she is a woman (although it would be amazing to see more women in politics - and in leadership positions). What we said was that that you should join the Party and vote for Diane because of where she stands politically and her feminist beliefs.

No politician is perfect for every person - we all have different viewpoints, experiences and beliefs. However, for me, Diane is the leadership candidate that best exemplifies the issues that matter to me and that would best ensure we have a chance of making this country a place of social equality and justice for all.

Lynne Miles // Posted 16 July 2010 at 12:24

David Miliband's eldest is at a CofE selective school despite him being an atheist of Jewish heritage, in Primrose Hill. This is my point. It's easy to be smug about sending your kids to state school if you have those kind of good options. In the 90s in Hackney, Diane didn't.

msruth // Posted 16 July 2010 at 13:08

I would actually like to forget the private school thing (even though I am against private schooling, I am against a lot of other things the other candidates are for), and I think I had managed to forget about it. However, I read in the London Evening Standard recently that she criticised Ed Balls for having gone to a private school. However, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper chose to send their children to a state school in Diane Abbot's own constituency (where the schools it would seem aren't good enough for Diane's own son).

Now there is no way I am going to vote for Ed Balls, I am currently an undecided voter swinging between Ed Milliband and Diane Abbot. But this incident really annoyed me, just not because it seemed hypocritical to me, but because it seemed to me such a stupid thing to say. Which is what I worry about with Diane Abbot, she has on a couple of occasions said things that not only I disagree with but seem to be stupid things to say as a politician.

I am delighted Diane was nominated and I do think she would make a splendid leader of the opposition against Cameron; I can't imagine her letting him get away with anything. But I am not sure she would make a good leader of the labour party.

Maeve // Posted 16 July 2010 at 13:46

A person has the right to live by their principles. They don't have the right to make other people live by their principles. So I admire Diane Abbot for not sacrificing her son to her principles, and giving him what she believes is the best education. Luckily for her, of course, she can afford it. Others cannot.

I think she should be given a chance as leader of the Labour party. She could hardly do a worse job than those who have gone before. And I personally am creeped out by the Milliband brothers and Ed Balls. Don't like Andy Burnham much either.

What did bother me a bit was the exchange with Andrew Neill some weeks ago, when Diane said something like 'West Indian mums will go to the wall for their children" (can't remember exact words) and he said, '"does that mean you think other mothers don't then?" I don't like Andrew Neill or his style, but he was making a valid point there and she couldn't give a valid answer.

SpiralTrance // Posted 16 July 2010 at 14:00

"Maeve said:

A person has the right to live by their principles. They don't have the right to make other people live by their principles."

That's true, but when you'r a politican you do force other people to live by your principles, so when you don't live by them yourself but expect everyone else to you'r a hypocrite.

SpiralTrance // Posted 16 July 2010 at 14:08

"Chitra Nagarajan said:

Diane Abbott: sending son to private school

Ed Balls, Ed Milliband, David Milliband, Andy Burnham: serving for/ in a Labour government (and I know they weren't all in the Cabinet when these decisions were taken - but they were involved) that:
a) went to war in Iraq
b) tried to detain suspects for 42 days without trial
c) brought in ID cards for foreign nationals
d) 'may have been' complicit in torture]
e) do I need to continue?"

And I wouldn't vote for any of them either, in fact I don't vote full stop because you can't solve the worlds problems by ticking a box. All our political system does is let other people get ahead in life, usualy at our expense, while claiming to do the exact oppoesite.

All the politicans are as bad as each other and the only real 'debate' to be had is not who's the best but who is the least worst and with a foundation like that to build a system on is it any wonder this country is going down the pan.

Kate // Posted 16 July 2010 at 14:49

I'm sorry Spiraltrance but I think that is an utterly bogus argument. You only have to look at what the coalition government has proposed in their first months of power to realise that not all politicians are the same. We would not be facing anonymity for rapists under a Labour government for example. And frankly unless you're going to vote either way the fact that you disapprove of what they do isn't going to bother them a bit.

SpiralTrance // Posted 16 July 2010 at 15:07

Kate it doesn't really matter who you vote for. The people who really control this planet are not the ones running for election every four years. In fact most people wouldn't even be able to name the true elite as they really ever get mentioned in the press which they indirectly control along with the government and banking. The political left v right paradigm is used by the elite to divide people and give the illusion that you have some say over your destiny when in fact you have virtualy no say on the issues that really matter.

Chitra Nagarajan // Posted 16 July 2010 at 15:20

SpiralTrance, if you don't vote, how do you recommend changing the system that you describe and solve 'the world's problems'?

A J // Posted 16 July 2010 at 15:26

Some commenters are kind of missing the point on the private schools thing. It wasn't just that she sent her child to private school after criticising private schooling. As I understand it, it was that she sent her child to private school after criticising private schooling *and* after condemning several of her colleagues for daring to send their children to selective or private schools when they were in a similar situation to her. It wasn't just hypocrisy - it was hypocrisy squared.

(And I have zero problem with anyone sending their child to private school - any school for that matter - even a Labour MP. Just don't be a total hypocrite about it)

And let's not forget her comments about Finnish nurses...

@ Maeve

Her performance on Andrew Neill's programme was dismal. She seemed to be totally disdainful of him asking a perfectly reasonable question in response to a fairly bizarre statement from her.

So, no, I won't be voting for her. And I hope she doesn't win.

Still, she's not as bad as Ed Balls, I guess. It's a pretty crappy bunch all round really...

Laurel Dearing // Posted 16 July 2010 at 15:29

people that do activist work every day to educate each other and build up more self sufficient communities, work places and health centres and run their own lives, vs people that place about 15 Xs over a life time of who to do things for them... ha, personally id advocate working on the inside as well as the outside (to pass bills which whilst i dont think make a big difference in the long run can make a big difference to the people that live through it), but no politician in power will advocate uprooting the system. thats not how they work. they have deals with other industries.

SpiralTrance // Posted 16 July 2010 at 15:42

Chitra to quote Ghandi 'You have to become the change you want to see in the world'. The worlds problems aren't politcal but psychological and they'll only ever end once our psychology changes.

This firstly and most importantly has to happen on a personal level and secondly on a collective level. Most politicians & people completely ignore the personal level and just focus on the collective level. This is like trying to comb your hair by combing your reflection in the mirror and in turn is what has kept humanity has been in a perpeptual state of war, chaos and imbalance for the past 10,000 years or so.

The conflict, chaos, ect that exists within us has very profound effect on the reality around us. Far more profound than we've been led to believe by 'mainstream' thought.

Lynne Miles // Posted 16 July 2010 at 15:54

SpiralTrance, this is all very well but in the meantime there are real people with real problems who need help and someone to fight for them now. What they don't need is for those in a position to get involved and change things to 'opt out' and think about changing their collective consciousness. It's a cop out.

Politicians do make a difference in this country and they do matter. There are some forces bigger than all of them (FWIW I don't think there is a party in existence who will keep us out of wars) but certainly on a domestic level things can be changed and are changed, both for the better and for the worse.

Whilst you are thinking about focusing on personal psychological change, there are people out there who are materially affected by the tax regime, the welfare regime, what assistance is available to those who are long term unemployed, whether they are allowed to have the legal rights and recognitions of civil partnerships, whether their local school is any good and whether they can walk the streets without fear of rape. Politicians have a huge influence over these things, and I'm so disappointed to see the negativity amongst the commenters here.

I have personally spoken to people who are hugely grateful to Diane for intervening on their behalf with their council housing problems, or with their immigration claims. These things matter to real people in their real lives, and she is helping them. It seems to me to be a nonsense to say that politics doesn't matter or make a difference. Certainly Diane Abbott isn't perfect, and certainly I will not always agree with her but for once there is a potential political leader about whom I actually feel excited and optimistic. We do a WHOLE LOT of complaining on this blog about how things could change. Leaving aside the public school thing (for me it's not insurmountable, but I get that for other people it is) we now have a serious contender for a serious political position who (broadly) shares our feminist views and all most commenters can do is run her down or say politics doesn't mean anything anyway.

So my question is: if not Diane, then who *would* you want for leader?

Laurel Dearing // Posted 16 July 2010 at 16:40

choosing a leader when you dont want one isnt an easy task. i DO vote, but i really see that as the least productive thing that i do. this is a pretty eclectic group of feminists, and a large amount of feminists in this country will include anarcha-feminists, especially out of male pro-feminists, theres a likelyhood that they will mostly fall on the far left to post left of the spectrum. out of those more socialist minded im sure quite a few ARE interested in the affairs of Labour, as a socialist govt would like to see what advances can be made, but many wont. i think this is a great article for those who believe in the current system, and for those who feel like it will make at least some difference, but please dont mistake it for apathy when people are saying that people individually and collectively acting to change the way people think rather than asking a government to tell people to do it. many anti-government activists are doing stuff every day, and to say that not putting a few Xs in boxes over their lives, which they might have found FROM EXPERIENCE hasnt seemed to help is like saying they think theres no hope for anything is just plain wrong.

Lynne Miles // Posted 16 July 2010 at 16:47

Fair enough, sorry, I shouldn't have implied those who opt out of the system are necessarily apathetic. I guess I'm personally quite pragmatic in approach to politics; it's not in my nature to be idealistic or envisage trying to overthrow the system. I do get frustrated, though, when people say things like "well she shouldn't stand because she doesn't want her son to play football for England". I mean, come on!

Laurel Dearing // Posted 16 July 2010 at 17:02

yeah i do see that as minor thing in the long run in comparison to other things. if i was interested in being a member of the labour party i dont think that sort of thing would phase me hugely.

we always put greater expectations on people that show they make an effort. its good within certain spaces (ie feminists talking to each other should criticise if we are being inclusive enough to other oppressed groups, or even oppressors to some degree) however when taken into a broader context you get people saying that feminism is pointless because most female feminists dont put as much emphasis on males sufferers of DV.

i think if you want to be a "leader" you do have to accept that responsibility more than most. if someone is ruling a whole country then focusing more on one populace of the country (as a feminist should) results in the other half feeling that this leader doesnt represent them and hasnt done much for them. yes we all feel like that now with a lot of male politicians, but many dont notice that what they do is male-centric as they dont identify as "masculinists" or the like. people have grown to see it as neutral.

i would like to see how white upper middle class straight men would deal with it in some ways, but i have a feeling it would also draw more people to sypathise with groups that assert poor little white man syndrome. that isnt to say that she wouldnt be the best option, but jeez would she have a hard job impressing most tabloids.

SpiralTrance // Posted 16 July 2010 at 17:18

lynn there's a few points i want to take up on your post and :-

Lynne : "SpiralTrance, this is all very well but in the meantime there are real people with real problems who need help and someone to fight for them now. "

This isn't some pie in the sky thing that'll come in the future. Real change what I was espousingt comes in the present. Politics is the art of sitting around debating about how to solve todays problems sometime tommorow.

Lynne : "Whilst you are thinking about focusing on personal psychological change, there are people out there who are materially affected by the tax regime, the welfare regime, what assistance is available to those who are long term unemployed, "

Two points i'll make here. Firstly the problems you list there on a material level can be 90% eliminated by banning usuary charged on the creation of money by central banks. I'll leave you to work out why in your whole life you'll never ever here a politician even propose that idea in public. Instead they'll sit around endlessly talking about tackling the symptons not the disease itself.

Lynne "whether they can walk the streets without fear of rape."

I don't know if it's the people I associate with but I don't know anyone who walks round in fear of getting raped, either male or female. The chances of someone getting raped are very, very rare. What you need to worry about are the hoods that'll break into your car, mug you at knifepoint, vandalise your property and generaly be a nuisance to everyone around them. This problem has greatly increased under labours watch.

Lynne : "Diane for intervening on their behalf or with their immigration claims."

Immigration is ticking timebomb and Dianne Abbots is living in cloudcukoo land with her 'let them all in and everything will work it and if you object you're racist'. The extreme right are growing at fast rate and i'll just say there'll be serious social unrest over the next decade or two with this. And for the record my gf is chinese so this is an issue that's close to me.

Lynne : "but for once there is a potential political leader about whom I actually feel excited and optimistic."

Dianna Abbot will get near where near any real power for many reasons, one being the Jewish lobby will *not* let it happen because of her pro-palestinian views.

Lynne "and all most commenters can do is run her down or say politics doesn't mean anything anyway."

That's because she's a hypocrite and a closet racist (finnish nurses - wasn't so quick to help them with immigration claims ah?). And politics doesn't mean anything and people realise this these days.

All the best, Spiral.

aimee // Posted 16 July 2010 at 17:49

Yeah do you know what? I'd send my son to a private school if I could afford it. Because he would get a better education. I also think I would still be in a position to fight for equality because I believe that all kids should be entitled to the level of education that private school kids get. Not that all kids should get a rubbish education and none of them a really good one, which is whata lot of people seem to be saying that Diane Abbott should want for her son..

As for the Ghana thing... well that's just ludicrous. It's just football and I don't see how it would be a problem anyway... there's nothing wrong with being supportive and feeling an allegancewith another country. I think national identity should be much more fluid anyway.

Emina // Posted 16 July 2010 at 21:52

The bottom line is that this issue over Diane's son's schooling has been hugely exxagerated. Four middle class white men may have the political luxury of claiming they have practiced what they preached because their children do not face the barriers which young black men face. Nobody mentions the fact that David Milliband who is an avowed athiest and declares as much approved of his sons attending a Church school after his wife attended the services for a year to get them in when there was a perfectly good local non faith school. So Diane may have payed but David (or at least his wife) prayed. What about his principles ? Whilst we must of course recognise that working class families cannot buy their children a private education we must also recognise that Muslim, Jewish, Hindu families cannot turn up a church services for a year to get their child into a good school. I actually believe neither Diane or David Miliband are wrong they are just trying to do what they believe to be the best for their children. However my point about raising what he did is basically "let he who is without sin cast the first stone". I am sure Mrs Miliband would have learnt that at Sunday service. The fact that Diane is being targetted stinks of double standards and is a failure to recognise the barriers which young black me face.

Jeff // Posted 17 July 2010 at 11:46

I really don't see the problem with all this. Politicians are hypocrites, that's pretty much an automatic assumption by now. Far more important to me is that she ensured her child would be getting the best education she could possibly give him. Had she sent him to a sub-standard state school purely for political gain, then I'd have voted for her when hell froze over and not a second before.

The football thing is also mad, like someone already said (sorry I've forgotten who), I would be ecstatic if a child of mine played in a national football team. That it wasn't England's team would matter not one jot.

Roxsie // Posted 17 July 2010 at 17:34

I'm a Labour Party member of many years standing and a campaigner since i was en utero. And i will not be giving either first or second preference to Dianne Abbott.

I do not care that she sent her son to a private school but i do care that before that she publicly criticised other members of the PLP for doing so. (similar reason for why i will not be voting for David Miliband)

She says a lot of what she's against, but i have yet to see anything she's for. I don't want a leader who is completely negative and i want to vote for actual policies, NOT "i was against iraq look at me" Neither Ed Miliband or Ed Balls were even MP's when the decision was taken to go to war so they didn't vote for it either (they were advisors though and i would like to see their advice)

Her instance of racism against Finnish nurses also counts against her and is a major issue in my book.

She only got nominated because of her gender and race. If a competant woman such as Harman or Cooper had stood i have no doubt they would have had no problems being nominated. Abbott only got nominated when another candidate (who i would have liked to see on the ballot) stood down and transfered his noms to her. This would have been a good thing if she had done something similar to what he would have and created debate about the meaning, structure and direction of the party (much needed debate imo).

At the moment i do not know who i will vote for, I'm leaning towards Ed Miliband for first pref and Ed Balls for second. Miliband because i like his ideas and his support for feminism, and Ed Balls because i know personally he keeps his word and all the MP's who have worked with him are supporting him which to me is a good sign.

Join the party by all means, the more the merrier. You'll be welcomed with open arms. But do it because you believe in Labour, you vote Labour and you want a Labour Government back. Not because you want to gerrymander the election process. (also if you do please get involved with your branch and CLP, and think about joining the Fabians and the Coop Party)

Lyndon // Posted 17 July 2010 at 20:24

From US, so I have enjoyed the comments and the views of a situation that I am not familiar, and wish the Labour party and the feminist movement there the best.

It has now been expressed a couple of times, by Aimee specifically, but the idea that it is hypocritical for her to send her son to a different school seems absurd. Here, Texas, given the quality of public schools, even the best in the state, there is no way that they provide a high enough quality or proficiency of education for any child, and to think someone would have to send their child there so as to uphold there stance for an adequate and universal public education, makes no sense to me. They should of course recognize the privileges that they have, though. The students that are sent to such schools also should be informed or reminded of just how much that education has given them and helped them become who they are, so that they can recognize the importance of quality education for everyone.

If she was criticizing others for sending their children to private schools, and then doing that herself, then I can see that as hypocritical.


Amy Clare // Posted 18 July 2010 at 11:12

Thanks for this article, it's really interesting - unfortunately the £1 joining fee only applies to those under 27, which I am not (!) and I can't see where the standard adult membership fee is. It seems like you have to go through the process of putting your details in before it tells you what you're paying, which is a bit off-putting. I'll research it though.

I don't think anyone should really be criticising Diane Abbott for sending her son to private school, as no-one here knows the personal family circumstances that led to the decision. A woman I used to work with, who was a single mum and by no means rich, sent her son to school in Antigua, where his father lived, because she lived in South London, had tried the local primary school, and in her words, didn't want her six year old son 'turning into a little thug just to survive'. She was also concerned, as Diane presumably was, about the prospects for black boys in poor areas of London.

I was sent to a private school aged 12 because I'd had a term at my local comp and had the sh*t kicked out of me every day by bullies. It was a rough school and I couldn't get into any other state school (all religious in my area), so my parents scrimped to send me to a private school which wasn't that much better in the end. They are lifelong Labour voters and socialists, and it was a difficult decision for them to make. I'm quite sure they regret it now, I know I wish I hadn't gone there, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

All I'm saying is, concern for the wellbeing of a child - not necessarily their education, that's only part of it - might lead a parent to do things that they disagree with on principle. I know not everyone has the ability to do what my parents did, or what Diane Abbott or the woman I worked with did. But if you have the apparent opportunity to make life better for your child it's hard to reject that just because not everyone has it.

Where Abbott went wrong is when she criticised others for doing what she had done - and since she has apologised for that, and since she has been working to improve state education in her position as a Labour MP, I don't see the problem.

Abbott should be compared to her fellow candidates and judged alongside them, not held up to some impossible standard of socialist purity.

Emina // Posted 18 July 2010 at 11:13

The suggestion that Diane is racist is absurd. Racism is about power and the idea that somehow the power dynamic has reversed and that black women are now so powerful that she could possibly at the time she made the comment have had any impact on the future prospects of Finnish nurses is a fails to recognise the dynamics of genuine racism.

Lynne Miles // Posted 18 July 2010 at 12:04

@AmyClare. At one point we had membership charges in but... y'know... wordcount ...

It's £1 for under-27s. There's a sliding fee based on income which is (from memory) upwards of £1.63 per month for everyone else.

Jeff // Posted 18 July 2010 at 13:21

The reduced rate is £1.63 a month (or the full year in a go at £19.50), for everyone else the cost is £3.25 a month (or again, the full cost of a year at £39). Sorry but I can't remember who get's the reduced rate, I think it's those earning under a certain amount but I'm not sure.

Ref here: https://secure2.labour.org.uk/uploads/cefa64b2-9328-7e14-4524-8cef6b9ef6df.pdf

SpiralTrance // Posted 18 July 2010 at 19:37

"Emina said:

The suggestion that Diane is racist is absurd. Racism is about power and the idea that somehow the power dynamic has reversed and that black women are now so powerful that she could possibly at the time she made the comment have had any impact on the future prospects of Finnish nurses is a fails to recognise the dynamics of genuine racism."

Nonesense. She made racialy offensive comments to some nurses that were trying to treat her purely because they were foreign and white.

Racism is deliberately discrimintaing or offending people either verbaly or physicaly on the basis of skin colour.

If you think this wasn't racism on her part you either deluded or deliberatly trying to excuse her behaviour.

Shea // Posted 18 July 2010 at 21:52

@ SpiralTrance - "I don't know if it's the people I associate with but I don't know anyone who walks round in fear of getting raped, either male or female. The chances of someone getting raped are very, very rare."

Perhaps you should check your privilege and arrogance before you talk about rape on a site like this and how "rare" it is. I have been raped and so have others, so don't pontificate about a reality that doesn't exist for us. I do live with a very real fear of rape and have modified my behaviour because of it, so do most women. You and the people you know are not representative of "everyone" so don't pretend that they are or that your anecdotal evidence is somehow authoritative in this context.

To suggest her comments about Finnish nurses were racism is utter stupidity. I have white patients who regularly complain about the African and Asian nurses and doctors who treat them, because they are "different". It doesn't make them racist, it makes them human in misguidedly questioning whether someone of a different race or ethnicity can have the same level of empathy as someone of their own race. Given the history of eugenics, colonialism and racism towards people of colour by white europeans I don't think that she was that far off the mark.

She was not discriminating against or offending the nurses. I'm sure they are professionals who are as eager as Diane to ensure her consitutents are well treated and looked after and are probably better placed than you to understand the concern she expressed.

HannahMc // Posted 22 July 2010 at 10:09

"What you need to worry about are the hoods that'll break into your car, mug you at knifepoint, vandalise your property and generaly be a nuisance to everyone around them. This problem has greatly increased under labours watch."

Just a quick point to say that crime has actually fallen by 42% in the past ten years (British Crime Survey statistics).

I attended a leadership hustings last night, organised by the Howard League, Napo and Tribune magazine. Diane Abbott was the only one to talk about mother and baby units in prisons, the only one to talk about educational failure as a key route into the criminal justice system, and the only one to recognise that prison is an expensive way to make bad people worse.

As far as criminal justice policy goes, she was head and shoulders above the other candidates. Not once did her race or gender come into it.

Celia // Posted 22 July 2010 at 18:16

I have nothing very much against Ms. Abbott (I like her more than Milliband major, for example, who has been tangled up in less pleasant things than private school hypocrisy). However, I'm not sure she'd make an awesome leader in a "lead the party to victory" sort of way. Granted, I'm an obvious idiot, but it just seems to me that someone who will speak before thinking, and someone who will get involved in a lot of arguments and infighting is perhaps not the most practical person to lead a party. This kind of thing might well discount all the others too, though. To be honest, there's none of them that really grabs me - and, as I say, I would still prefer Abbott to someone like David Milliband, who may well be a Mandelson-type secretly evil Minister for Bastardry, or Ed Balls, who would probably also do the fighting/party-splitting thing, and have a mildly comical name while doing it.

masculinist // Posted 23 July 2010 at 08:56

feminists should vote for Dianne Abbott.....ok ......who should masculinists vote for ?????

Lynne Miles // Posted 23 July 2010 at 12:29

I wouldn't presume to say, Masculinist, since masculinusm as a political stance makes no sense to me,but you're welcome to debate the issue on a masculinist blog.

Anna // Posted 23 July 2010 at 17:04

I don't know why you're asking us, masculinist, you've got plenty of choice.

Treeboy // Posted 23 July 2010 at 17:27

Who in the leadership campaign is not a feminist? I'm pretty sure Diane Abbott isn't the only one!
There is absolutely no way she is the right person for the job in these difficult times - the labour party are not very fond of her because of her unreliability and reactionary 'moments', and her polemic is pretty awful, too.

Teresa Crew // Posted 25 July 2010 at 12:08

Do I support Diane Abbot because she is a woman or because she is the best candidate? I’ll answer my own question – at first I thought it was a little bit of both. I can’t help be drawn to her because she is a woman and because I always support people, initiatives or policies that challenge the status quo. Abbot’s nomination may be tokenism or positive discrimination but I’m excited that she's there. It’s the first time ever in British history that a black woman has made it on to the leadership ballot of a major political party. That should be reason enough
But is it reason enough? Polly makes a valid point that she wouldn’t vote “for anyone just because they're a woman (i.e Margaret Thatcher is a woman, so is Nadine Dorries, so is Edwina Currie, so is Anne Widdecombe).”. However I can say without any hesitation that I wouldn’t have voted for any of those women anyway as I lean....way over to the left.
The main reason that I would support Diane is because of her criticsm of controversial Labour policies such Iraq and ID cards). For the last two elections I have voted with a very heavy heart...I want a leader that will make me proud to vote Labour...So why do I support Diane Abbot? Because she is just the candidate to make me feel back in love with Labour.

Jeanne Rathbone // Posted 02 September 2010 at 21:12

As a party member since the 60s I find this leadership contest and New labour so distanced from my views. Diane Abbot is probably the only one i could vote for. I once polled more votes than her in one branch when there was a reselection in the now defunct Battersea North constituency in 1982!
As a committed Humanist I am pissed off with all 5 contenders in their support for religious schools. Dividing children on the basis of their parents supernatural beliefs is ridiculous, irrational and divisive. Yet Diane and the others are all agreed on this.

So, I am still undecided on her. I will be voting for Oona King for the London mayoral candidacy.

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