Friday, 21 May 2010

Well said, Diane Abbott!

I've been watching the front runners for the Labour leadership contest, and struggling to tell them apart. This isn't helped by the fact that women, of all colours, are treated as marginal figures when it comes to competing for positions of political power. But more than that, this contest was in danger of reinforcing one of the most negative aspects of politics today.

One by one, the leadership contenders were lining up to admit that Labour had 'failed' on immigration. This was only heading in one direction - more attempts to prove that Labour could be 'tough' on immigrants. 

And that is why I am so glad that a breath of fresh air has been injected into the Labour leadership debate by Diane Abbott.
Diane was a strong opponent of the Iraq war, and is a powerful advocate for civil liberties. But she deserves a huge vote of thanks for launching her leadership bid with this statement:

"One of the things that made me run was hearing candidate after candidate saying that immigration lost us the election. Rather than wringing our hands about the white working class and immigration, we need to deal with the underlying issues that make white and black people hostile to immigration; things like housing and job security. We need to be careful about scapegoating immigrants in a recession. We know where that leads".

As she told the BBC, "We need a proper debate on immigration where children of immigrants like me also have a voice"

I will be watching the leadership contest with a bit more interest from now on.