Labour leadership contest enters final day

Labour leadership: The final day
Labour leadership: The final day

By Ian Dunt

Over three months of a seemingly perpetual Labour leadership contest finally come to an end today.

The winner of the contest will be announced on Saturday, at the opening of the party's autumn conference in Manchester.

The race remains a contest between David and Ed Miliband, and it remains too tight to call.

Bookies William Hill reported heavy support for long time favourite David Miliband yesterday and cut his odds from 8/15 to 4/9 favourite, with Ed Miliband out from 11/8 to 7/4.

But even that decision followed a few weeks of heavy betting on the younger sibling, who is increasingly seen as the man to beat in Westminster circles.

Many analysts expect the shadow energy secretary to pull ahead on the back of second preference votes from the other candidates as they knocked out the race, even if David Miliband beats him on first preference votes.

Ed Miliband was frantically trying to convince any last-minute voters to offer him their support today.

"My campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party has been based on one central idea - the need for change," he said.

"It has been a campaign based not on the backing of large donors or of the New Labour establishment, but on the support of thousands of Labour members, volunteers and young people from inside and outside the Labour movement.

"With just a few hours of voting still to go, we are fighting for every remaining vote to make sure that Labour turns the page."

Despite the two men's fraternal relationship, their vision for the future of the Labur party could not be more different.

David Miliband favours the New Labour model of government and has made little effort to disassociate himself from the policies of New Labour - including on Iraq and civil liberties.

Ed Miliband, meanwhile, has made a strong pitch to left-of-centre voters alienated by the Liberal democrat's decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives, offering a distinct break with Labour's recent past.

All candidates will be urging supporters to ring last-minute voters in a bid to cement a lead over their rivals.

A private company will collect the votes from the party's three electoral colleges - MPs/MEPs, unions and members - before counting them on Friday.

Even without a leader, the polls show Labour closing the gap with the Tories. YouGov's latest tracker poll found that 43% now expect the economy to slump because of government action, compared to 28% three months ago.


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