Balls enters leadership race as rumours surround Burnham

Ed Balls- who threw his hat in Labour leadership ring today
Ed Balls- who threw his hat in Labour leadership ring today

By staff

Ed Balls has announced his candidacy for the Labour leadership amid strong rumours that Andy Burnham will confirm his own bid tomorrow.

Mr Balls, the former children, families and schools secretary, will be standing for the leadership of his party against David and Ed Miliband, also former ministers.

Launching his campaign in the Gedling constituency of Labour colleague Vernon Coaker, Mr Balls said: "We've got to listen first, hear what the public say. That is what is going to be the centrepiece of my campaign.

"It's really important we're not just a campaigning party but a listening party as well."

His launch was quickly followed by reports that former health secretary Andy Burnham may be the latest Labour figure to announce their candidacy for the leadership, with parliamentary observers expecting him to confirm his ambition in the Mirror tomorrow.

Mr Balls admitted that Labour was seemingly out of touch with many voters on issues such as immigration and university tuition fees.

Due to Mr Balls' role as advisor and confidant of former PM Gordon Brown, and David Miliband's close relationship with Tony Blair, analysts will be watching their campaigns closely to assess if Labour can put the era of Brown/Blair divisions behind them.

But Mr Balls said he was friends with his rivals and seemed to promise a clean campaign.

He said: "We've been friends and colleagues for a long period of time. I'm very proud of my friendships with colleagues in parliament, including those going in for the leadership. Whoever wins this I will back them 110%. I think the unity of the Labour party is vital.

"I will say everything for my campaign through my own words on the record. I will be my spokesperson. I'll tell you how I see it and I'll answer the question."

Labour backbencher John McDonnell also announced yesterday that he wanted to make a bid for the job of leader of the opposition, but he was critical of the party's national executive committee's (NEC) decision to have a short period for nominations.

The period for nominations by MPs starts on Monday and any challenger needs to get the support of 33 MPs by Thursday.

Successful candidates will be able to campaign until ballots are held between August 16th and September 22nd.

The last date for people to join the party in order to vote is September 8th. The result will be announced on September 25th, to allow the new leader to be in place by the party conference which starts the next day.


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.