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Labour leadership: who are the candidates?

By Alice Tarleton

Updated on 09 June 2010

Channel 4 News and Who Knows Who profile the five Labour leadership candidates announced today, and what they stand for.

Labour logo as the leadership race hots up (Getty images)

David Miliband
Who he is: Miliband senior is one of three leadership candidates to have read PPE (philosophy, politics and economics) at Oxford. He became MP for South Shields in 2001, and foreign secretary when Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair as PM. The former policy wonk advised Tony Blair and served as an education minister. He was seen as the most likely candidate to topple Brown as PM, though came short of mounting an open challenge. Read more and view his power map at Who Know Who.

What he stands for: The first candidate to declare for the leadership, David Miliband used his opening speech to declare the end of the Blair/Brown era and call for "next Labour". He called for a return to idealism and has defended Labour's record on public services but attacked the behaviour of the financial industry pre-credit crunch as "unacceptable" and "immoral". He keeps his frustration at being opposed by his brother well hidden, as our political editor Gary Gibbon has noted. His ideas for rebuilding the Labour movement include an elected party chair and a voice for Labour councillors in the shadow cabinet.

Labour leadership candidates: find out more
- View their power maps at Who Knows Who

Ed Miliband
Who he is:
Younger brother of David, the former energy and climate change. The Labour MP for Doncaster North read PPE at Oxford and was one of the writers of the 2010 election manifesto. Read more and view his power map at Who Know Who.

What he stands for: Ed Miliband called for the party to tackle inequality, pledging to keep the new 50p top rate of tax in the Daily Mirror today. "There is something wrong with a society where nurses earn less in a year than bankers - whose botched deals caused the credit crunch - pay themselves every week," he wrote. He says that in power Labour "lost its sense of mission and of being in touch with people’s concerns", calling instead for the party to "rediscover the radicalism that drives our progressive mission as the most powerful transformative force for good in our society".

Ed Balls
Who he is: The former children's secretary hung on to his Morley and Outwood seat with a greatly reduced majority in the 2010 election. A key ally of Gordon Brown, he advised Gordon Brown the former chancellor for many years before becoming an MP himself in 2005. He is married to fellow Labour frontbencher Yvette Cooper and studied PPE at Oxford. Read more and view his power map at Who Know Who.

What he stands for: Balls promised to "listen and act" on voters' concerns about crime, immigration and education. “My campaign will be about hearing what people have to say to us and having that conversation directly with them" he said when he launched his leadership bid. Post-election he has turned on his old mentor, Gordon Brown, saying the government seemed out of touch on a number of issues. He talks particularly tough on immigration, writing that Labour was wrong to let so many Eastern European EU migrants into Britain.

Andy Burnham
Who he is:
The former special adviser was elected to parliament in 2001. He took his third cabinet post as health secretary in 2009, having served previously as chief secretary to the Treasury and culture secretary. He was born in Liverpool and studied English at Cambridge. Read more and view his power map at Who Know Who.

What he stands for: He's pledged to end “stage-managed” politics run by "elites" and create a people's party. He promised to be a unifying voice, bringing back people who had lost faith with Labour. "I am a team-player; I've never had time for factions," he wrote in a Daily Mirror article when launching his campaign.

Diane Abbott
Who she is:
The backbencher read history at Cambridge and came up through the Labour grassroots to become Britain's first black woman MP in 1987. She was one of a small group of Labour MPs to oppose the Iraq war in 2003. The London MP also has a regular spot on the sofa of BBC One's political show This Week. Read more and view her power map at Who Know Who.

What she stands for: Abbott says people urged her to stand to breathe some air into the contest. She wants to "save the Labour party from the policy wonks and the thinktanks" and attacked her rivals for "wringing their hands about immigration". "Mrs Duffy of Rochdale and I have this much in common: we are not afraid to speak our mind, we love our party and we want it back," she wrote. She has also called for a "proper debate" about our role in Afghanistan.

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