Knives out as Labour leadership race enters final stages

Exhausted: The leadership contenders are entering the final stage of a tough and protracted campaign.
Exhausted: The leadership contenders are entering the final stage of a tough and protracted campaign.

By Ian Dunt

The knives came out in the Labour leadership contest today, as contenders hit out at each other ahead of the contest's final stage.

Ballot papers go out next week, with a new leader to be decided by the time of the party's autumn conference in Manchester late next month.

Ed and David Miliband have continued their week-long war of words, with Ed Miliband accusing his brother of being afraid to adapt to Britain's new political circumstances.


"Whenever a political party has become stuck in its ways there are always those who will fight to stay with what they know," he will say in a speech later.

"The past can be a powerful anchor. Labour now faces a big, defining choice: whether to linger in the comfort zone of New Labour or whether to change, reach out to those who have lost trust in our party. Only change can win."

Ed Miliband hits back at his brother - again

Meanwhile Andy Burnham adopted a tactic employed by Ed Balls yesterday, attacking the debate between the two men as symptomatic of tired and old-fasioned Labour debates.

"As this race enters its final stage, the media are seeking to brand it as a two-horse race between New and old Labour," he wrote in the Guardian.

"There are great risks for Labour here. First, it risks repeating old debilitating battles in our party. Second, it leaves mainstream Labour opinion unrepresented."

Burnham: Ed vs David clash harms us all

Meanwhile, Ed Balls' camp clearly decided Labour members would prefer to see candidates take the fight to the Tories with a speech which attacked George Osborne for risking a 'double-dip' recession by cutting public spending so quickly.

"As the second storm looms everything he is doing is designed to suck money out of the economy and cut public investment, while his tax rises and benefit cuts will directly hit household finances at the worst possible time," Mr Balls said during a speech at Bloomberg.

"It is the exact reverse of the policy which allowed Britain and the world to weather the first storm."

Balls comes out fighting against 'deficit denier' tag

The salvos mark the end of a tough week in the Labour leadership contest, with Ed and David Miliband breaking their truce to issue thinly-veiled attacks on each other. Mr Balls branded their 'old vs New Labour' debate "a caricature" yesterday.

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