Abbott will give male rivals a good run, says Harman

Harriet Harman Harriet Harman promised more women in the shadow cabinet

Labour MP Diane Abbott will give her four male party leadership rivals a "good run for their money", Harriet Harman has said.

Ms Harman, the stand-in party leader, said it was important Labour did not have an "all-male team at the top".

But she told the BBC there were five "excellent candidates" and promised to remain neutral during the contest.

The result of the Labour contest will be announced at the party's annual conference in September.

Ms Abbott faces Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and David and Ed Miliband.

'Better decision-making'

Ms Harman, who was one of the 33 MPs who nominated Ms Abbott, told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "This is a very crucial period and I we have got five fantastic candidates. All of them would make excellent leaders of the party."

She added: "Political party elections are very, very difficult for people to predict and nobody knows who's going to win."

Ms Harman said: "As Diane said herself, she's going to give the boys a run for their money."

She added that she had nominated Ms Abbott to prevent the election race being all-male.

Ms Harman said the rules governing the election of Labour's shadow cabinet would change to ensure half its members are female.

This would ensure "better decision-making than a majority of men", she added.

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