Diane Abbott to run for Labour leadership

Left-wing Labour MP Diane Abbott announced today she was running for the party leadership, becoming the first woman to enter the race.

In a surprise move, Ms Abbott said she was confident of attracting the 33 nominations needed to get her on to the ballot paper.



She becomes the sixth participant in the contest, after David Miliband, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, John McDonnell and Andy Burnham.



There had been concern in the party at the lack of a female challenger to take over from Gordon Brown as Labour leader.



Harriet Harman and Yvette Cooper have said they will not stand.



Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Ms Abbott said: "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."



Of her prospects, she added: "We think that we can get the 33, because I am attracting support not just from the Left but from women and other MPs that want to see a more diverse range of candidates."



Ms Abbott, 56, was the first black woman MP when she joined the Commons in 1987. She is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, of which Mr McDonnell is chair.

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."



The Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP said Labour needed the "broadest possible" contest as it debated the future of the party after this month's general election defeat.



"We can't go forward with a leadership debate where there is no woman," she said.



Ms Abbott insisted her bid was "perfectly serious".



She said none of the current frontrunners in the race would admit that the immigration system is "still inefficient and unfair and brings abuse, but nobody will say we have to address the underlying issues behind black and white working class unease about immigration, about housing, job insecurity.



"And, you know, if we are going to have a debate about immigration, I am the child of immigrants. Don't the millions of British people who are the children of immigrants have a voice in this debate also?



"I could not be more serious."



Mr Burnham, the former health secretary, launched his bid for the Labour leadership last night with a pledge to create a "People's Party".



In an article for the Daily Mirror, he said he would put an end to "stage-managed" politics run by "elites".



Mr Burnham insisted he could be a "unifying" force for the party, suggesting that - unlike most of his rivals - he had never taken sides in the Blair-Brown infighting.



"I am a team-player; I've never had time for factions," he wrote.



"That's why I can help make Labour welcoming and unifying, a voice for all people who want to get on in life but also want to live in a country fair to all - with a more even spread of health, wealth and life chances."



The Leigh MP said Labour had to "open up to more people".



"We must become a new kind of Party that involves and consults its members on a daily basis - truly a People's Party - and reduces the influence of small elites at the top," he insisted.



"We should bring down the final curtain on the era of stage-management in politics, making our party conference a forum for real debate and drama once again."



Ms Abbott suggested that most of the other leadership candidates, as former ministers, were incapable of accepting where the party had made mistakes in government.

She also indicated that she would be seeking to appeal to the female vote.



Asked what she was standing to represent, she said: "We have to stop allowing the Tories to position themselves to the left of us on civil liberties, we have to bring back democracy to the party.



"We have to address... the Labour movement has changed, the majority of members of our big industrial unions are women, we need to talk directly towards women and women workers.



"And we need to accept, in a way that past ministers cannot accept, what we did wrong in the past 13 years."



Former chancellor Alistair Darling said it was "good" that there was a broad range of Labour opinion being represented in the leadership contest.



"I think, as Diane knows, we don't always see eye to eye on everything but I think it's a good idea that every strand of opinion in the party should be represented," he told Today.



"This is a time when we will be choosing the next leader who will be here for some years.



"I'm all in favour of all strands of opinion being heard, whether or not I agree with every candidate who stands."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific