Blears enters race for deputy post

Blears has been an MP since 1997
Blears has been an MP since 1997

Labour chairwoman Hazel Blears has announced her candidacy for the deputy leadership of the party.

With current leader Tony Blair due to stand down before the autumn and deputy John Prescott set to step down at the same time, Ms Blears has pledged to stay true to the values that won three successive general elections in a new era for the party.

After claiming that voters "will take a dim view of us if we say 'that was all rubbish and we're different now'" in a newspaper interview, the Salford MP reinforced her allegiance to the New Labour project at her official launch today.

"We have to stay in tune with people's ambitions. We must use this leadership election and the transition to a new leadership team to showcase our party, its values and its policies to new supporters and voters," she said.

Ms Blears joins a crowded field for the post as many of the party's prominent figures shy away from a leadership contest against the favourite Gordon Brown.

International development secretary Hilary Benn, along with fellow Cabinet ministers Peter Hain and Alan Johnson, Brownite constitutional affairs minister Harriet Harman and backbencher Jon Cruddas have all already stated their intention to run for the role.

Jockeying for position has already begun with Ms Harman insisting that she would appeal more strongly to female voters.

"If you look at the polling, I am the candidate voters in general and women in particular want on the ticket," she told the Mirror.