The appointment of Diane Abbott as shadow home secretary has received a predictable cacophony of faux outrage. The coverage in the Express is typical, replete with sexist references to her sexual history and insults.
The appointment of Ms Abbott, a close ally, supporter and one-time girlfriend of fellow north London MP Mr Corbyn, was seen as a particularly provocative move.
She moves from Shadow Health Secretary to replace Andy Burnham who has stood down to focus on his campaign to be elected Greater Manchester Mayor next year.
One anonymous Labour MP commented: “Diane Abbott is now in charge of our response to security, terror and immigration. Do they want anyone to vote for us again?”
Another branded her “incompetent” while former Labour HQ official Jo Green Tweeted: “Labour’s top three are Corbyn, (Shadow Chancellor John) McDonnell and Diane Abbott. Electoral suicide awaits.”
Last week, Ms Abbott told a Labour conference meeting that voters backing limits on European Union immigration simply “want to see less foreign-looking people on their streets”.
In fact it is a very smart move. The senior leadership of the shadow cabinet is now in hands of those who are loyal to trajectory of the party, as now twice endorsed by the membership.
Like McDonnell and Corbyn himself, Diane Abbott has historically been a figure outside of the golden circle of the Westminster elite, and the last year has clearly required adjustments from all of them, in response to their greater responsibility. However, over the last few months she as done extremely well as shadow health secretary, and she is accomplished in front of the television camera.
But most significantly, a time when the Conservative Party is seeking to polarize British politics over the issues of race and immigration, hoping to seek the shift the centre ground on the issue as a smokescreen for their problems over Brexit, then Abbott’s appointment is the clearest signal that Labour will not follow them down that path.
Let us be clear, the wisdom of the centre-right in the party that Labour should not drift too far way from the Conservatives over policy simply doesn’t work when politics is in flux. The economic prescriptions which the three defeated candidates in last year’s leadership elections were triangulated around George Osborne’s policies, and would – in logical terms – be to the right of the current government.
Triangulation is part of a tired process that the electorate is disillusioned with. What is more, the chaos in UKIP and the opaqueness of what Thereas May’s government actually believes in, shows that all political parties are struggling to position themselves in a dramatically altered political landscape.
Abbott is the right choice, and she will do well.