Candidates to lead Britain's Labour make final vote pitch

13th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The candidates vying to lead Britain's Labour party held their last hustings Monday, with the frontrunner, ex-foreign secretary David Miliband, saying he would be a "credible" premier.

The five contenders made their pitch to delegates at the Trades Union Congress (TUC), whose members have a third of the votes in the contest, the results of which will be announced on September 25.

Most opinion polls suggest David Miliband is set to win although he could face a close challenge from his younger brother Ed.

"You need to elect a leader who can reach out to the public as well as the party, someone who can unite the party, someone who can take on (Prime Minister) David Cameron and someone who is a credible prime minister of this country," David Miliband said. "That's why I'm standing."

He, his brother and another candidate, Diane Abbott, both received notably loud ovations from the crowd.

Ed Miliband, a former energy secretary, vowed that he would provide a break from the years of Labour under former leaders Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, saying he was "not the candidate of a new Labour establishment."

The other candidates are ex-education secretary Ed Balls and former health secretary Andy Burnham.

The contest was triggered when former prime minister Gordon Brown resigned as Labour leader after being defeated in May's general election, making way for a coalition government led by Cameron.

In the most recent poll by YouGov for this week's Sunday Times, David Miliband had a lead over his brother of 36 percent to 32 percent on first preference votes.

But it suggested this could be converted to a 51 percent to 49 percent win for Ed Miliband in the final round.

The poll also put Andy Burnham in third place with 12 percent, Ed Balls fourth on 11 percent and backbencher Diane Abbott trailing on nine percent.

Party members and Labour lawmakers from Westminster and Europe are the other groups who elect the leader.

Voting started on September 1, when ballot papers were sent out to all those eligible to vote.

© 2010 AFP

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