Big names leaving top-level British politics

29th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

David Miliband was joined by other big names Wednesday in not standing for the British opposition Labour party's top team, with former senior ministers also quitting frontline politics.

Ex foreign secretary Jack Straw and former finance minister Alistair Darling also said they would not run for new leader Ed Miliband's shadow Cabinet, Labour's frontbench team scrutinising the government.

Both were key players in former prime minister Gordon Brown's government before Labour was ousted from power in the May general election.

Darling helped steer Britain through the global financial crisis and received international plaudits for his swift response.

Straw was prime minister Tony Blair's foreign secretary from 2001 to 2006, and played a key role as Britain took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Brown's last defence secretary Bob Ainsworth also stepped aside.

The news came as 49 Labour lawmakers put themselves forward for election to the shadow Cabinet.

Only seven have no previous ministerial experience, throwing into question new Labour leader Ed Miliband's claim that a "new generation" had taken charge of the party.

Labour lawmakers will elect 19 people from the 49, with voting opening on October 4 and closing on October 7 and results published soon after.

Once the names of the 19 are known, Miliband will then put together his team for shadowing members of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative-Liberal coalition government.

Ed Miliband won the party leadership on Saturday, narrowly beating his older brother David, a former foreign secretary, who said Wednesday he would not stand for the shadow Cabinet.

The three other defeated candidates -- Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott -- all decided to stand for the shadow Cabinet.

© 2010 AFP

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