Is Rentoul right about Mili-D’s Abbott nomination?

Is Rentoul right about Mili-D’s Abbott nomination?

What’ll her presence do to the 2nd and 3rd prefs?

John Rentoul, the Indy on Sunday’s columnist who is often said to be more Blairite than Blair, has taken up the cause of Mili-D in a big way. This is how he describes the ex-foreign sec’s move to provide a last minute nomination so that Diane Abbot could get on the ballot:-

..”What she will do, of course, is take votes away from the most left-wing of the other candidates…It shows a flash of steel in David Miliband. The former foreign secretary has been unfairly cast as a serial bottler, for not challenging Brown for the leadership on a number of occasions when he would have failed to dislodge him because Labour MPs were too fearful. Now he has shown a streak of ruthlessness in claiming the mantle of pluralism while at the same time weakening his brother’s chances…”

The theory’s fine but in such a complex election as this with three separate electorates and an exhaustive ballot voting system anything can happen – as we saw in the 2007 Labour deputy race.

I’ve just been looking at the videos of the New Statesman’s hustings and I wonder whether Miliband’s Abbott move might be subject to the law of unintended consequences. Just watch and listen to the extra cheering and applause that she gets. Compare the way she engaged with the audience with the wooden but worthy approach of Rentoul’s favourite.

On Tuesday night we have the first big TV occasion – the Newsnight debate – and I wonder who will come best out of that.

I’m not saying that Abbott can win but she can sure mess up the way those vital second and third preferences work out.

Mike Smithson

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