Monday, 1 March 2010

Greens make Diane see red

Diane Abbott: "Oddly, everyone I have spoken to has never mentioned meeting Mr Sellwood nor any other of their prospective candidates."

Hackney North's Green candidate, Matt Sellwood, accused Diane Abbott of being "disinterested" in green politics and said her constituents were telling him:"These days we see Diane more on the telly than we do on the streets."

In his blog Matt reported that Diane didn't vote in a closely fought rebellion over Emissions Performance Standards for new coal-fired power stations in the UK.

He said: "Diane didn't bother to turn up. Having, apparently, told Friends of the Earth that she would be rebelling." He added "I can guarantee that when there is a vital, close-fought amendment, on which I have been lobbied and made promises about - I'll turn up to Parliament to vote!"

Blood and Property asked Diane for a comment.

She said: "It is not often I do not vote in Parliament but it is difficult when I have commitments in my constituency. On the Wednesday evening of the vote, I was helping congratulate students at Hackney Community College at their annual awards, which is why I was unable to be in the House. I then went to a tenants meeting on Woodberry Down.

"Both of these commitments were long standing in my diary and issues I felt to be very important. Having been an MP for 23 years, I have learnt how best to use my time and believe it is often best spent out in the constituency, attending meetings and helping constituents with their issues.

"Every week without fail I am out in the constituency and every weekend I and the local Labour party are out knocking on doors and meeting people. Oddly, everyone I have spoken to has never mentioned meeting Mr Sellwood nor any other of their prospective candidates."


  1. Interesting reaction there, thanks for posing the question. :)

    I'm afraid that I'm only faithfully reporting the number one reaction I get on the doorstep when conversation turns to her record - the thing that people mention most are her appearances on 'This Week', and her other extra-Parliamentary earning opportunities. Whether she likes it or not, a lot of people are not happy with her choice to spend time earning over and above her existing salary as an MP. Personally, I believe that anyone who is in Parliament should make it their one and only job.

    Also, given that her entire reputation is built on being a Parliamentary rebel, I still think it is very strange for her to have confirmed her support for an EPS and then not have bothered to take part in one of the biggest Parliamentary rebellions of the term. Jeremy Corbyn made it. John McDonnell made it. Alan Simpson made it. Even George Galloway, who has made the same argument as Diane about engaging in the community, made it!

    Oh well - my criticism stands. If you commit to supporting something in Parliament, you should support it. And if you don't turn up, it's fair comment for people who have campaigned on it to ask why.


    P.S. Diane might want to ask a few more people whether they've met me. I've been in meetings with different Hackney campaigning organisations every day this week...

  2. Thanks Matt. I'd just say that at least there's something to write about with Diane. I've no idea what Meg Hillier is up to. I've had no response to any questions that I've sent over the last few months. I know she's busy with things like ID cards, Yarl's Wood, Vetting and Barring etc. but she's also MP of a constituency with lots of problems... who could probably do with hearing from her a bit more.

    But that's not your problem - Hackney South, not North - Apparently Meg is actually Diane's MP too - and mine.

  3. I should make clear that (as I say in the blog post you link to) I think Diane's record is good in a number of areas, including things I feel really strongly about, like Yarl's Wood. I'm not interested in 'attacking for attackings sake'. But I was genuinely surprised to see that she didn't vote in such a tight division, and I know that others I've spoken to were also disappointed.

    I think I might write something about the balance between Parliamentary voting and 'being a good community MP' actually - it's an important area, as Diane says, and thinking about where the line is drawn is crucial.

    All best wishes,

    Matt Sellwood (now you can say that you have met me - at least virtually. :) )

  4. Abbott is just showing how removed she is from the radical scene. It is a typical patronising attitude we get from Labour. They are out of touch having squarely advanced right wing economics, reactionary authoritarianism and war in the position of government for the past 13 years. She has exposed herself as something of a narrow tribalist, even though she claims to be opposed to the general labour programme.

  5. She was handing out awards at a college instead? Way to give a bad message to those young people: "I'm here with you rather than in Parliament trying to save the world".