Socialist Worker

Is there anyone left in Labour to vote for?

Issue No. 2206

Labour MPs, bullied and intimidated by the bureaucracy, have succeeded in keeping John McDonnell off the ballot paper for the Labour leadership contest.

It’s a sign of how unwilling the majority of Labour MPs are to face the challenge of rebuilding the credibility of the party after 13 years of betrayals in government.

Diane Abbott did make it onto the ballot paper – with the help of David Miliband and his coterie who saw it prudent to do so.

She now remains as the only standard bearer for the left.

Abbott has been a consistent and principled opponent of the war in Iraq. The best the other candidates for leader could manage was Ed Miliband’s mealy-mouthed regret that Iraq had led to “a catastrophic loss of trust in Labour”.

She has a good record over defending civil liberties, and opposes Britain’s nuclear weapons.

Her statements condemning the scapegoating of immigrants – at a time when the other candidate were found lacking – are welcome.

She told this paper, for example, that attempts by other candidates to say Labour lost because it wasn’t hard enough on migrants, was “playing with fire”.

But there are criticisms to be made of Abbott that should not be swept under the carpet. For example her decision to send her son to a £10,000 a year private school was – as she put it herself – “indefensible”.

Socialists stand for well funded comprehensive education for all, not the advancement of the few.

Socialist Worker supported John McDonnell for Labour leader, as the candidate with the best left record. But in a contest between an anti-war left candidate and four former New Labour ministers, we back Diane Abbott.

If she uses the leadership election to offer a clear challenge to those who want to oppose the brutal cuts on services, opposition to the war in Afghanistan and to defend migrant workers, that can provide an important boost to the fightback we urgently need.

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What We Think
Tue 15 Jun 2010, 18:43 BST
Issue No. 2206
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