How trailing Abbott could still make the ballot paper

Some of 100 undeclared Labour MPs may yet nominate -- merely to create the perception of choice.

With only seven nominations, Dianne Abbott is trailing in last place among those who are seeking to get past the 33 MPs mark before nominations close on Wednesday (the day of the NS's evening debate between the candidates who make it into the contest).

Most write her off. Yet it is worth noting -- as Adam Boulton of Sky has done today -- that there are still 100 MPs yet to nominate. (And as well as today's hustings at the GMB, there is also one before MPs this evening.) It is also important to remember that when the contest itself is decided, a number of MPs will be voting for different candidates from the ones they nominated.

There are signs that there may yet be a surge in favour of Abbott once MPs have absorbed the social, ethnic and gender similarities behind the leading candidates.

Adam Boulton explains:

Currently David Miliband is on the grid with 62 backers, brother Ed has 49 and Ed Balls is on 33.

So far Burnham has just 21 nominations, McDonnell ten and Abbott seven.

But there over 100 unsecured Labour MPs out there who could ensure that all six candidates are runners.

Burnham told me on Sunday Live that he's confident of making it (David Miliband has hinted his surplus supporters could help out).

There is also an uneasy awareness in Labour ranks that the three nominated candidates so far are all white, middle-class, Oxbridge-educated, fortysomething men.

That could lead to a sudden surge of nominations for Abbott, especially since some on the centre and right of the party want a left-wing candidate so that he or she (McDonnell or Abbott) can be seen to be defeated.

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James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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An alternative Trainspotting script for John Humphrys’ Radio 4 “Choose Life” tribute

Born chippy.

Your mole often has Radio 4’s Today programme babbling away comfortingly in the background while emerging blinking from the burrow. So imagine its horror this morning, when the BBC decided to sully this listening experience with John Humphrys doing the “Choose Life” monologue from Trainspotting.

“I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got Radio 4?” he concluded, as a nation cringed.

Introduced as someone who has “taken issue with modernity”, Humphrys launched into the film character Renton’s iconic rant against the banality of modern life.

But Humphrys’ role as in-studio curmudgeon is neither endearing nor amusing to this mole. Often tasked with stories about modern technology and digital culture by supposedly mischievous editors, Humphrys sounds increasingly cranky and ill-informed. It doesn’t exactly make for enlightening interviews. So your mole has tampered with the script. Here’s what he should have said:

“Choose life. Choose a job and then never retire, ever. Choose a career defined by growling and scoffing. Choose crashing the pips three mornings out of five. Choose a fucking long contract. Choose interrupting your co-hosts, politicians, religious leaders and children. Choose sitting across the desk from Justin Webb at 7.20 wondering what you’re doing with your life. Choose confusion about why Thought for the Day is still a thing. Choose hogging political interviews. Choose anxiety about whether Jim Naughtie’s departure means there’s dwindling demand for grouchy old men on flagship political radio shows. Choose a staunch commitment to misunderstanding stories about video games and emoji. Choose doing those stories anyway. Choose turning on the radio and wondering why the fuck you aren’t on on a Sunday morning as well. Choose sitting on that black leather chair hosting mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows (Mastermind). Choose going over time at the end of it all, pishing your last few seconds on needlessly combative questions, nothing more than an obstacle to that day’s editors being credited. Choose your future. Choose life . . .”

I'm a mole, innit.