Diane Abbott yesterday put herself forward as a left-wing contender to succeed Gordon Brown, arguing some of her rivals for the role had been “more focused on winning the leadership battle” than on helping defeat the Tories in the election.
Ms Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and the first black woman to enter the Commons, has urged her party to move to the left and abandon the policies pursued during 13 years of New Labour rule.
Her plea comes after Liam Byrne, the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, warned that the advent of the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition meant Labour was now in a “full-on fight for the centre ground of British politics”.
Ms Abbott's unexpected entry into the leadership battle takes the number of candidates in the race to six. However, it is thought unlikely that she will secure the support of 33 MPs necessary to appear on the ballot paper.
Yesterday, the party's hierarchy tore up part of the timetable for deciding on its next leader after complaints from MPs and activists that contenders had not been given time to raise support.