UK Politics

Miliband brothers neck-and-neck in Labour poll

David and Ed Miliband
Image caption The Milibands comfortably won the poll of constituency associations

The Miliband brothers have emerged as the frontrunners in the Labour leadership race according to a poll of union bosses, local parties and MEPs.

Shadow foreign secretary David gained the backing of 165 constituency parties, followed by Ed on 148, but Ed was backed by more union leaders.

Ed Balls, Diane Abbott and Andy Burnham have much ground to make up, the official Labour poll suggests.

Voting will take place for real between 16 August and 22 September.

But 635 local Labour parties, 14 affiliated trade unions, 13 MEPs and 15 socialist societies had until 1300 BST on Monday to register a "supporting nomination" - which consists of their advice on which way to vote.

Conference announcement

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham won the support of 44 constituency associations, with Ms Abbott on 20 and Ms Balls on 17.

Ed Miliband, the shadow climate change secretary, received the most backing from trade union leaderships, with six endorsing him. David Miliband and Ms Abbott are recommended by two unions, Mr Balls by one and Mr Burnham by none.

The Milibands each have the support of six Labour MEPs, while Mr Burnham has the backing of one and the other candidates none.

Three affiliated societies back Ed Miliband and one opts for each of Mr Burnham, David Miliband and Ms Abbott.

There are two months to go until a successor to former leader Gordon Brown is named at the party's annual conference in September.

The winner will be the candidate that receives the most votes from the three sections of Labour's electoral college: MPs and MEPs, party members and members of affiliated trade unions.

More than four million people could take part in the election, which uses an Alternative Vote system, which allows voters to rank their candidates in order of preference.

Meanwhile, the voter branded a "bigoted woman" by Mr Brown during the general election campaign has said she is backing David Miliband's campaign.

Gillian Duffy told the Daily Mirror that David Miliband would make a "great prime minister" after he visited her at home in Rochdale.

Mrs Duffy came to prominence during the election campaign after she raised questions with Mr Brown, then the prime minister, about immigration.

'Really listened'

After he entered his car, Mr Brown, who had forgotten to remove his microphone, was recorded referring to her as "bigoted". He later went to Mrs Duffy's home to apologise.

The pensioner will vote in the Labour leadership contest as a member of the Unite union, the leadership of which is backing David's brother Ed.

She said of David Miliband: "He's a really nice man and obviously very intelligent but also down to earth. I think he would be a great prime minister.

"I felt David really listened to my points of view and shared my concerns on the issues that matter to working people."

Mr Miliband said that, under him, Labour would be "on the side of people like Gillian Duffy".

Immigration was on of the key issues debated by the five contenders in the early stages of the leadership contest, with Ed Balls, Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham all suggesting Labour had lost touch with its core supporters on the issue.

Mr Balls told The Guardian: "I have spoken to thousands of Mrs Duffys over the last 18 months. What she was saying I have heard so many times. If I'd been there, I would have known she was Labour."

Ms Abbott argued that it was wrong to focus on immigration policy when issues such as jobs and housing were seen as more important by Labour voters.