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Diane Abbott Says There Are No Left-Wing Labour Leadership Candidates

The Labour MP told BuzzFeed News that party members are "disappointed" with the lack of choice in the leadership election. All the candidates are "from the same wing of the party", she said.

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The veteran MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington said many party members were "disappointed" with the lack of choice in the leadership contest. Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, and Mary Creagh are battling it out to be crowned Labour leader in September.

The four-month-long contest follows Labour's crushing defeat at the general election which saw Ed Miliband step down. But Abbott, who has long been on the left of the party, warned that all the candidates were offering was a move to the right.

"There's no genuine fresh thinking and I think a lot of party members will be very disappointed," she told BuzzFeed News. "They are all basically from the same wing of the party, and the only argument seems to be that we have to move closer to the Conservatives.

"They wouldn't phrase it like that, but what they say we should be doing around these policy areas – on defence, welfare, business, and the economy or taxation – it's all about moving closer to the Conservatives. And nobody really addresses what happened in Scotland, where the Scottish voted overwhelmingly for an anti-austerity party."

Abbott pointed to Kendall's pledge to raise defence spending to a level that even David Cameron has shied away from. Abbott has also warned on Twitter about Burnham's support for welfare cuts and Cooper's "anti-immigrant" tone.

She said it was too late now for a left-wing candidate to throw their hat into the ring. Each candidate needs to secure the nominations of 35 MPs by mid-June to get on the ballot paper.

"Because Andy Burnham came out early on and because he had the endorsement of the unions, he's attracted some left MPs who might otherwise have supported a different candidate," Abbott said. "So because he has so many locked up it's not clear to me where the 35 nominations for the left candidate would come from."

Despite standing for Labour leader herself in 2010, she insisted she was not tempted to run again because she was now focusing her efforts on being Labour's candidate for London mayor.

Asked whether she would back any of the leadership candidates, Abbott said, "Not necessarily. Obviously I've got a vote and I'll make a decision when the time comes, but at the moment I'm not planning to endorse anybody."

Labour's next leader will be elected under a new "one member, one vote" rule for party members and registered supporters.

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at emily.ashton@buzzfeed.com.

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