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Abbott secures place on Labour leadership ballot.

Summary: Five candidates have secured their place on the ballot paper for the Labour leadership, including left-winger Diane Abbott.

The battle for the Labour leadership has kicked off in earnest as five candidates have secured their place on the ballot paper, including left-winger Diane Abbott.

Ms Abbott squeezed on to the starting line with the help of one of her rivals, David Miliband, who later said he was proud that his nomination had delivered a "historic day for diversity in Britain" by enabling a black woman to stand for the first time for the leadership of a major party.

The pair line up alongside Mr Miliband's younger brother Ed, shadow education secretary Ed Balls and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham for a gruelling 15-week campaign featuring dozens of hustings, speeches and TV and radio debates before Gordon Brown's successor is named on September 25.

The candidates lost no time in seeking to define their positions in a contest seen by some commentators as a race between four white, male Oxbridge-educated former ministers and a black female Cambridge-educated outsider.

Ms Abbott secured the necessary 33 nominations from Labour MPs at the very last minute, after fellow left-winger John McDonnell withdrew from the contest and offered her his backing to ensure there was a woman on the ballot paper.

Several of the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP's nominators - such as acting leader Harriet Harman and former ministers Jack Straw, Chris Bryant, Phil Woolas and Denis MacShane - do not share her radical views. Ms Harman made clear she would not vote in the election, but was backing Ms Abbott to ensure it was not a "men only" contest.

But Ms Abbott denied that she was the beneficiary of positive discrimination or was being patronised by rivals such as David Miliband, who spelt her name wrongly as "Dianne" as he announced he was lending her his nomination.

Independent Television News Limited 2010. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:Jun 11, 2010
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