Diane Abbott should be Labour leader, insists caller

2 January 2020, 14:49 | Updated: 2 January 2020, 14:52

This caller said Diane Abbott should be the next Labour leader and when Shelagh challenged him, he couldn't give one reason why.

Richard from Manchester admitted that some people "might smile" at his suggestion but he wants to see Diane Abbott as Labour's next leader.

"I'm very deeply surprised that this lady has not been included in the list of potential leaders of the new party," he said, "I don't understand why she's not been part of this conversation."

When Shelagh suggested Ms Abbott might not want to be leader, Richard said perhaps some of the "embarrassing moments she had" have not yet been forgiven; "I think she'd make a very good leader and I think she wants to be leader."

Richard acknowledged that the shadow home secretary had not been present throughout Labour's campaign as some members of the party were "unfair" in saying she would not be an asset - he pointed out that Jacob Rees-Mogg had also been sidelined.

Aside from the "mathematical issues" she's had, said Richard, she's "professed opinions which are of significant value. I think to ignore Diane Abbott and look at the other potential contenders is not giving the party its best chance for the future."

Shelagh asked what Richard thought her public appeal would be to which replied that she "expresses compassion and kindness" and does not come over in an aggressive manner while still communicating her point of view.

"Boris Johnson doesn't trade in those traits," pointed out Shelagh and asked whether her traits are what people are looking for in a leader.

Shelagh asked the caller why Diane Abbott could appeal to the party
Shelagh asked the caller why Diane Abbott could appeal to the party. Picture: PA

"Maybe there's the opportunity for Diane Abbott to trade in them," he said, in order to reach a kinder a Labour party.

When Shelagh asked him whether he thought Ms Abbott could beat Boris Johnson at the next election, Richard said a lot of that depended on Mr Johnson's actions during his time as Prime Minister.

Shelagh countered that he is doing what a lot of Labour politicians have done: "When you test them on what Labour needs to offer, whether it's an individual, a new leader, a policy, a different approach, they immediately lean on the error and disaster on the part of the Conservative party.

All of us can win if our competitor fails. What I'm asking you is can Diane Abbott beat Boris Johnson at the next election? Not because he turns out to have been rubbish but because she has something genuine to offer?"

Richard conceded that this was a good point and started comparing Labour to the Tories and Shelagh exclaimed, "You're doing it again: if if if if if! No ifs not buts, no maybes, no whining, no bleating.

"If you cannot say that she can win and why she can win, why the heck do you want her to be the leader of the Labour party?"

"Because look at the others," said Richard, to which Shelagh repeated that he was doing it again.

"You don't even believe she can beat Boris Johnson so why the heck do you want her to be Labour leader?" asked Shelagh.

Richard said he didn't think anyone could beat the Prime Minister but if anyone could it was Diane Abbott. After being pressed again, he admitted that he didn't truly know why.