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20 May 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:19am

Diane Abbott enters Labour leadership race

Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP makes surprise announcement that she will be the sixth person t

By Samira Shackle

Diane Abbott has thrown her hat into the ring, announcing that she will stand for the Labour leadership.

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington told the BBC‘s Today programme that her bid was “serious”, and would offer Labour a choice, given the similarities between the other candidates.

This unexpected addition certainly brings something different to a race which, until now, was populated mainly by white, Oxbridge-educated men in their forties — Ed and David Miliband, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham all fit the bill, while John McDonnell is 59, and went to Brunel.

Abbott says she is confident that she will gain the necessary backing of 33 Labour MPs by 27 May, expecting support from MPs on the left of the party, and from women MPs.

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Abbott — a 57-year-old Cambridge graduate — was the UK’s first black female MP in 1987, and remained the only one for ten years.

Quite apart from being a black woman entering the fray in a very white, male political setting, she represents a more left-leaning set of ideas than the candidates already in the running, many of whom are still tarred by their lingering association with Blair/Brown.

She is generally to the left of New Labour, and as a long-standing member of the party’s Socialist Campaign Group, she stands a chance of garnering support from those MPs disappointed that Jon Cruddas ruled himself out.

If nothing else, this looks set to be an interesting contest.

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