Labour's leadership contenders

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Labour's leadership contenders

Labour's leadership contenders
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The main question facing Labour after its election fiasco of last May was who would take over from Gordon Brown and lead the party in opposition.
Now four million party members and trade unionists have begun receiving their ballot papers to choose the successor.

It is the first leadership battle since Tony Blair won in 1994. Leading the field of five candidates are the Miliband brothers, David and Ed.

The pair believe the contest will not drive a wedge between them. But brotherly love has been stretched to the limit in the campaign with some bitter exchanges, particularly on Britain’s involvement in the Gulf War.

They both served in Gordon Brown’s government – the first siblings to sit round the same cabinet table since 1938 – and before that David Miliband was Tony Blair’s Head of Policy.

David Miliband was Foreign Secretary in the Brown administration between 2007 and 2010. At 45 years old he is the favourite to take over having the support of many principal figures in the party.

He is also considered the most staunch supporter of the New Labour line introduced by Tony Blair.

His 40 year old brother was the Energy Secretary and a member of the inner circle of Gordon Brown’s advisers. Further to the left than his brother, he reckons New Labour is finished saying it had become the party of bankers’ bonuses. That is believed to have won him the backing of the trade unions.

Another former Brown cabinet minister Andy Burnham is in the race too. Also 40, the former Health Secretary is part of the new young generation who are not particularly well-known among the British public. But his leadership credentials are boosted by his experience of handling a monster budget like health.

Ed Balls is the most closely associated with Gordon Brown. And because of that, the 43 year old former Schools and Children Secretary is seen as the candidate most likely to continue in the Brown mould. He has a robust approach to politics that many see as confrontational.

And Dianne Abbott is a backbencher. The 56 year old is well to the left of her fellow contenders, and has been an MP for 23 years. She announced her candidacy saying there was little to choose between the others.

The winner will be announced at the start of the annual Labour Party conference in Manchester on September the 25th.