Diane Abbott’s candidacy has been a disaster for the left…
Listening to Diane Abbott at the final leadership hustings was truly tortuous. Often she would make some good policy points but they were completely and utterly overshadowed by a giant storm cloud – her ego. She has entirely run her campaign on the personal traits of the other candidates and what she is and what they not. An inevitable consequence of this has been that it has focused on those traits as what define her as ‘anti-establishment’ as much her actual policies. Invariably it follows that her campaign has for me, been by far, the most personally negative which was shown today in her comments about the ‘New Labour princes’.
Even when she says things I agree with, like on Trident, where my politics defiantly places me on Abbott’s side I find it hard to applaud her because it is always pre-faced with a negative remark about the other candidates. It shows that, like John McDonnell, she has misjudged the mood of this contest which, excepting the occasional online spats in the Twitterverse between supporters, has been good-natured and comradely up to this point. Her specific brand of negative egoism marks her out as definitively the wrong choice to lead the party. Like most prominent leftist politicians (with honourable exceptions) since the time of Robespierre she is showing classic signs of delusions of her own grandeur and conflating herself with the ’cause’ and the ‘people’ as if it was a divine appointment.
This is a shame because she has both misrepresented and weakened the voice of the Labour left in this contest. It has smothered the possibility of a really invigorating debate over issues like the renewal of Trident. Above all it has deprived the Labour left of a credible candidate and that is a shame because although they probably would not have won they would have been an important presence in the debate.