"No, but I wouldn't mind being Mayor of London"
As the opening salvo in an election campaign it's hardly the stuff of legend, but to many in Labour the idea of an Abbott candidacy could appeal. Current frontrunners include Ken Livingstone and Peter Mandelson, neither of whom will galvanise a party that, come 2011, is likely to be nursing the wounds of this May's savaging at the polls. Abbott has put in her time as an MP (elected 23 years ago), has a reasonably high media profile (though she did post a derisory score in Celebrity Mastermind a couple of years back), and in her often queasy televisual relationship with Michael Portillo, has shown an ability to work across ideological lines; traits a Labour candidate could use after the final years of Ken's divisive rule.
Taking up the theme, Andrew Gilligan notes that she "combines the two key elements of Labour’s London core vote - ethnic minorities and metropolitan lefties" (though he is surely confusing Stoke Newington High Street with Church Street when he says the former is the "core essence" of "The Guardian's London readership"). Gilligan also suggests that Abbott would play better in the suburbs than Ken, taking a healthy bite out of Boris Johnson's doughnut (fnar) in the process.
Not everyone will be convinced by a female candidate of Jamaican descent, though. One bilious commenter on the Telegraph website, apparently still smarting from Boudica's burning of Londinium, declared that "apart from Thatcher, women's participation in politcs has generally been an unmitigated disaster". More rancourous outbursts like that, and Diane might just stand a chance.