Labour leadership: The eye of the storm

The eye of the storm: Counting begins tomorrow.
The eye of the storm: Counting begins tomorrow.

By Ian Dunt

The Labour leadership contest has entered into a period of calm, with the ballots closed and the result not set to be announced until Saturday.

With no-one able to predict the election result, the Westminster rumour mill is dominated by discussion of shadow Cabinet appointments.

Many sources expected Ed Miliband to make his brother chancellor if he wins on Saturday. There are few other positions important enough for the elder sibling, who has already been foreign secretary and is too unsympathetic to Ed Miliband's civil liberty agenda to go to the Home Office.

Interview: Ed Miliband

The three electoral colleges - MPs/MEPs, unions and members - have now completed voting.

The tide has slipped back towards David Miliband in recent days, with many analysts saying the original front runner might just beat his younger sibling into the top spot, despite YouGov polls suggesting Ed Miliband will be crowned leader.

Both camps were keen to exude confidence in the last days of the battle. The perception of being the front runner comes in particularly useful when trying to secure the votes of MPs and MEPs, who are likely to vote on the basis of what will help their career.

Interview: David Miliband

William Hill trimmed the price on Ed Miliband this afternoon from 7/4 to 6/4 after a last-minute surge in bets, but his brother remained very much the favourite at 1/2.

The union vote has been largely wrapped up by Ed Miliband.

A major question rests on the second preference votes of those who backed the three other candidates. As the election is held under the AV system, their second preference votes will be allocated mostly to the two front runners, as those backing their preferred non-Miliband candidate use the system to have a say in the front runner race as well.

Interview: Andy Burnham

Some analysts think the YouGov poll putting Ed Miliband in the lead got the weighting wrong for the union affiliates, while others claim it underestimated the level of second preference votes going to Ed Miliband.

A New Statesman interview with Harriet Harman yesterday revealed the interim labour leader was angling for a seat on the shadow Cabinet once a new head was chosen.

The long-time MP was proud of her performance keeping the party in order during the epic three month contest, with opinion polls this week showing Labour neck-and-neck with the Tories for the first time in years.

Interview: Ed Balls

"I didn't want the Tories to get away with murder while our spirits were low," Ms Harman said.
"Of course, it made a huge difference that we had prevented them from getting an overall majority, but there was still that prospect that Labour could lose its purpose."

Labour elections will not end on Saturday. The arrival of a new leader triggers shadow Cabinet elections, which could provide a stage for some surprising high-profile casualties.

Meanwhile, a poll of Liberal Democrat members by Lib Dem Voice found most Lib Dem supporters would chose David Miliband if they were Labour members. He scored 38% to Ed Miliband's 31% - a dramatic reversal in fortunes since the question was first asked on the website three months ago.

Interview: Diane Abbott

Asked which of the contenders would be to the political advantage of the Lib Dems, Ed Balls came in the top spot, followed by Diane Abbott, Ed Miliband, David Miliband and finally Andy Burnham.

Tomorrow sees the announcement of who will run against Boris Johnson for the position of mayor of London - Ken Livingstone or Oona King.


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