Two more join race to lead Britain's Labour party
Former schools secretary Ed Balls and left-wing lawmaker John McDonnell joined the race Wednesday to lead Britain's Labour party following premier Gordon Brown's electoral defeat.
Former foreign secretary David Miliband and his brother, ex-energy secretary Ed Miliband, had already declared their bids to take over after Brown resigned as party leader and prime minister following the May 6 elections.
Balls worked closely with Brown for a decade before being elected to parliament in 2005, while McDonnell is a backbencher who wants to scrap Britain's nuclear deterrent and pull troops out of Afghanistan.
"I'm going to be put my name in for the Labour party leadership. I think it's a really important election for our party but also for the country," Balls said, launching his campaign in Nottinghamshire in central England.
The 43-year-old said he would be talking to the public to establish what went wrong for Labour, saying: "Let us hear what the voters have said to us in this election."
He said Brown had told him "good luck, go for it" but added: "Gordon should stand completely neutral in this and I am sure he will."
Balls said he had been "friends and colleagues" with the Milibands for a long time and insisted: "Whoever wins this, I will back them 110 percent, because the unity of the Labour party is vital."
Meanwhile in Brighton, on England's south coast, McDonnell announced he was standing as the only candidate fighting for "key" Labour policies, including opposing cuts in public services and supporting trade union rights.
A fifth candidate, former health secretary Andy Burnham, was expected to announce his candidacy Thursday.
Labour has been plunged back into opposition after 13 years in power, facing a possible five years fighting the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition led by Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Labour leadership campaign will take several months, with ballots due in August and September in time for a new leader to take over at Labour's annual conference which starts on September 25.
© 2010 AFP