Brown rejects return to ‘failed policies’

Nominations for the Labour leadership opened today and it has become clear that Gordon Brown will face a challenger.

It was confirmed today that John McDonnell will launch a challenge to Mr Brown’s assumed coronation after Michael Meacher agreed to step down.

The two left wing rivals had decided only one would seek to get on the ballot, amid concerns they would not both be able to raise the 44 MPs’ support necessary for nomination.

A press conference was initially planned for last Friday, but was delayed after the two candidates claimed their support was “too close to call” and neither appeared willing to step down.

The delay prompted speculation that, even combining support, too few MPs were prepared to distance themselves from Mr Brown’s ascendancy.

Now it has been decided that Mr McDonnell, who has been endorsed by groups from across the breadth of the Labour party, will compete against the chancellor for the leadership.

Mr McDonnell called on Labour MPs to support his candidacy to ensure a debate on the future of the Labour party and a democratically elected leader.

The three would-be leaders met last night for a 90 minute debate organised by the Fabian Society.

Launching his campaign on Friday Mr Brown stressed he was an architect of New Labour and would not initiate a radical diversion from Tony Blair’s policy. Speaking last night, Mr Brown confirmed he would not oversee a leftwards shift in the party.

Labour must not return to the “policies that failed in the past” he told his challengers, and rejected the idea of increasing taxes on rich individuals and companies.

Mr Brown would oversee a “prudent” government, he insisted.

Despite this, the chancellor did hint at a possible change of direction in regards to housing, foreign policy, health and electoral reform.

Labour MPs are also competing for the deputy leadership. Harriet Harman, Peter Hain and Hazel Blears have all published lists of at least 45 backers, ensuring them a place on the ballot.

Alan Johnson is also thought to have the necessary support from 44 other MPs, while John Cruddas and Hilary Benn maintain they are “confident” they will receive enough signatures.

Nominations are open until 12.30pm on Thursday May 17th.