What impact will Abbott’s presence have on the contest?

Diane Abbott will ensure that a left-wing critique of New Labour is heard.

The Labour website has just been updated to confirm, as my colleague James Macintyre exclusively revealed, that Diane Abbott has made it on to the ballot for the Labour leadership.

In the end, ten of John McDonnell's 16 supporters transferred their votes to Abbott but that still left her 12 votes short of the required 33 nominations. It was David Miliband's game-changing decision to back Abbott and urge his many supporters to do the same that secured her passage to the final round. MPs who had publicly backed his bid, including Stephen Twigg and Phil Woolas, rallied behind Abbott to ensure as diverse a field as possible.

I'm not sure that Miliband is Machiavellian enough to have considered this, but her place on the ballot will deprive Ed Balls and Ed Miliband of some of their left-wing support.

Meanwhile, Abbott's success has already divided opinion on the right of the party. Hazel Blears's former SpAd, Paul Richards, tweeted: "Some of us spent decades fighting the hard left. Now our MPs are falling over themselves to get the Campaign Group on the ballot. Crazy."

But other diehard New Labourites are pleased to see Abbott in the final round: it gives them a chance to inflict a decisive defeat on the left.

For many on the centre left, such as myself, Abbott's presence in the contest is a welcome development. It will force the other four nominees to test and refine their arguments against a candidate of the left. It will allow issues such as Afghanistan, privatisation and inequality to come to the fore. And it has ensured that the contest consists of more than four men with alarmingly similar backgrounds.

You'll be able to see Abbott and the four other candidates in action at tonight's New Statesman Labour leadership debate.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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There's something missing from our counter-terrorism debate

The policy reckoning that occured after the 2005 terrorist attacks did not happen after the one in 2016. 

“Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department, says Wernher von Braun.” That satirical lyric about Nazi rocket scientists has come to mind more than few times watching various tech giants give testimony in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee, one of the underreported sub-plots of life at Westminster.

During their ongoing inquiry into hate crime in the United Kingdom, committee chair Yvette Cooper has found a staggering amount of hate speech being circulated freely on the largest and most profitable social media platform. Seperately, an ongoing investigation by the Times has uncovered how advertising revenue from Google and YouTube makes its way straight into the coffers of extremist groups, ranging from Islamist extremists to white supremacists and anti-Semites.

One of the many remarkable aspects of the inquiry has been the von Braunesque reaction by the movers and shakers at these tech companies. Once the ad revenue is handed out, who cares what it pays for? That’s not my department is the overwhelming message of much of the testimony.

The problem gains an added urgency now that the perpetrator of the Westminster attacks has been named as Khalid Masood, a British-born 52-year-old with a string of petty convictions across two decades from 1982 to 2002. He is of the same generation and profile as Thomas Mair, the white supremacist behind the last act of domestic terrorism on British shores, though Mair’s online radicalisation occurred on far-right websites, while Masood instead mimicked the methods of Isis attacks on the continent.  Despite that, both fitted many of the classic profiles of a “lone wolf” attack, although my colleague Amelia explains well why that term is increasingly outmoded.

One thing that some civil servants have observed is that it is relatively easy to get MPs to understand anti-terror measures based around either a form of electronic communication they use themselves – like text messaging or email, for instance – or a physical place which they might have in their own constituencies. But legislation has been sluggish in getting to grips with radicalisation online and slow at cutting off funding sources.

As I’ve written before, though there  are important differences between these two ideologies, the radicalisation journey is similar and tends to have the same staging posts: petty criminality, a drift from the fringes of respectable Internet sub-cultures to extremist websites, and finally violence.  We don’t yet know how closely Masood’s journey follows that pattern – but what is clear is that the policy rethink about British counter-terror after the July bombings in 2005 has yet to have an equivalent echo online. The success of that approach is shown in that these attacks are largely thwarted in the United Kingdom. But what needs to happen is a realisation that what happens when the rockets come down is very much the department of the world’s communication companies. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.