Line-up of UK Labour leadership race announced

15th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

Four candidates have registered to lead Britain's opposition Labour Party after its former chief Ed Miliband resigned in the wake of a devastating election defeat last month, the party said on Monday.

Shadow health minister Andy Burnham, a member of former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown's government, is the bookmakers' favourite.

He has vowed to be "a leader whose voice can carry into all the nations and regions of the UK" following the collapse of support in the party's traditional heartlands.

Reformer Liz Kendall, 44, is second favourite, despite having only been elected to parliament in 2010.

She has been critical of the party's shift to the left under Miliband, saying "fundamental reform is essential to the future survival of our party."

Yvette Cooper has long been tipped as a potential leader, but her close ties with leading figures associated with Labour's recent losses -- including her husband Ed Balls -- could count against her.

Veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn completes the line-up after a successful last-minute attempt to secure the support of at least 35 of Labour's MPs -- 15 percent of the total.

Labour Party representatives, members and affiliates will decide the result, which will be announced at a special conference on September 12.

The rules have been changed since the last leadership election to give less influence to trade unions in deciding the outcome.

Union-backed Miliband won out against his brother David, a former foreign minister who had been the favourite to take over, in a bitter leadership race in 2010.

Some party supporters have also asked for the possibility to change leader before the next general election in 2020 in case the winner of the current contest fails to measure up to the task.

The party now has only 232 MPs after it was all but wiped out in Scotland and lost voters in its northern working-class strongholds during a general election defeat for which Miliband took responsiblity.

The party is locked in debate about whether it should maintain its leftward shift, or return to the centrist platform of former leader Tony Blair, and how to counter the image of being dominated by its London-based members.

© 2015 AFP

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