Labour leadership speculation mounts

By Sam Dale

Speculation is mounting as to who would be Labour leader if Gordon Brown steps down on Friday.

Foreign secretary David Miliband is the front-runner for the post with the backing of Lord Mandelson, according to newspaper reports.

The Telegraph claims Chancellor Alistair Darling has emerged as a serious contender after an Edinburgh speech last week.

Mr Darling said he had personally stopped Northern Rock and RBS from collapsing and was right to say it would be the worst recession in 60 years.

“When you look at what happened, events have proved my judgments right. Judgment matters,” he added.

A heavy Labour defeat may leave them excluded from coalition negotiations with the prime minister expected to step down as Labour leader.

Deputy leader Harriet Harman would most likely take over in the immediate term but, if there is a minority Conservative government, Labour may elect an interim leader until the next election.

Ed Balls, a close ally to Mr Brown, is also among the leading candidates to be the next leader.