Miliband, Miliband or Balls?

As the contestants line up, and put their hats into the ring, the competition heats up, pitting talent and personality against one another. The battle is destined to be bigger than the X Factor and dirtier than The Apprentice as this year’s biggest reality talent show, the Labour leader election, starts to take shape. Viewers will see political cat-fighting, back-stabbing and different legends of the Labour Party putting their weight behind the candidate they see as the best to lead the Labour Party back to power. With a timetable stretching until late September, the Labour Party have created an X Factor style competition and even have their own sibling rivalry in the Miliband brothers who have both put themselves up for the battle.

Several favourites before the competition began, including acting leader Harriet Harman, shadow Justice Secretary Jack Straw and shadow Home Secretary Alan Johnson have all ruled themselves out and thrown their support behind other candidates

The Miliband brothers are at the moment the clear favourites. Nominations are open until 9th June and some candidates are still aiming to receive the 12.5 percent (of Labour Party MPs) that are needed to stand for nomination. Both Miliband brothers have broken this barrier, with Ed just ahead on 41, having secured the backing of former ministers Hilary Benn and John Denham, whilst Dave (on 37) has the prestigious backing of Alan Johnson and shadow business secretary Pat McFadden.

Other candidates include Shadow Education Secretary Ed Balls and Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, favourites to run well before the resignation of Gordon Brown. Ed Balls, a constant friend and ally of Brown, has put himself firmly in the race with his wife and former cabinet member, Yvette Cooper, stepping aside for him to run. His hard personality and tough stance are seen by many as the strong character needed whilst Burnham is a new figure on the Labour scene and to some the fresh face needed to lead the party to victory.

Two back-benchers have also thrown themselves into the race. Diane Abbot, the UK’s first black woman MP, dissatisfied with how all the other candidates “look the same”, wants to offer something different and “recapture the civil liberties agenda from the Tories and the Lib Dems.” John McDonnell, the other backbencher who has thrown his name into the fray, is seen by many as a long term party rebel, constantly ready to go against the party whip. A controversial choice, and with previous failures in the 2007 battle, he is not likely to feature heavily in the coming weeks.

When nominations close, candidates will encounter a number of hustings and calls, similar to the ones seen for the General Election earlier this year. The leader election will be more televised and more media driven than ever before, with candidates needing to prove themselves on every level, not only to Labour MPs but to the country as a whole. Tears, tantrums, arguing and surprises guaranteed, move over the X Factor, I know which reality battle I’ll be following.


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