Straw to manage Brown’s leadership campaign

Jack Straw is to manage chancellor Gordon Brown’s campaign for the Labour party leadership.

The current leader of the House of Commons sent a letter to Labour MPs in which he said it would be a “personal pleasure” to be Mr Brown’s campaign manager.

Today’s move ends speculation that the former home and foreign secretary may join the already-crowded field for the post of deputy leader of the party, which current holder John Prescott plans to vacate when prime minister Tony Blair steps down later this year.

Instead Mr Straw plans on reaching out to party members to ensure that Mr Brown, long-feted as the natural successor to Mr Blair, assumes the party leadership by this September’s party conference.

“As the Budget showed, Gordon Brown is supremely well-qualified to build on the huge achievements of Tony Blair’s premiership, to keep the Labour party united, to give us the strategic vision to take on and defeat the Tories at the next election and, above all, show the strength of leadership our nation demands,” he wrote in the letter.

“It will be a personal pleasure for me to help ensure that Gordon Brown becomes our next prime minister and continues the positive transformation of the country which Labour has secured since 1997.”

Acquiring Mr Straw’s track record of success, which includes management of Mr Blair’s 1994 leadership campaign, will comes as good news for the chancellor and his allies in their struggle against other leadership aspirants like Michael Meacher and John McDonnell.

A more serious potential rival, in the shape of environment secretary David Miliband, could pose a greater threat to Mr Brown’s ambitions. The Observer newspaper reported this morning that the prime minister believes his young protégé may yet be in with a chance of becoming his successor.