Abbott to run for Labour leadership
8:28am Thursday 20th May 2010
Left-wing Labour MP Diane Abbott has announced she is running for the party leadership, becoming the first woman to enter the race.
In a surprise move, Ms Abbott said she was confident of attracting the 33 nominations needed to get her on to the ballot paper.
She becomes the sixth participant in the contest after David Miliband, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, John McDonnell and Andy Burnham.
There had been concern in the party at the lack of a female challenger to take over from Gordon Brown as Labour leader. Harriet Harman and Yvette Cooper have said they will not stand.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Abbott said: "We need to speak to our supporters and speak to our members in a way that we are not speaking to them up until now."
Of her prospects, she added: "We think that we can get the 33, because I am attracting support not just from the Left but from women and other MPs that want to see a more diverse range of candidates."
Ms Abbott, 56, was the first black woman MP when she joined the Commons in 1987. She is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, of which Mr McDonnell is chair.
She said: "I'm going to run. So many people in the past 48 hours have asked me to put my hat in the ring and I have finally decided to do so."
The Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP said Labour needed the "broadest possible" contest as it debated the future of the party after this month's general election defeat.
"We can't go forward with a leadership debate where there is no woman," she said.