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Labour leader to be crowned in September

By Emma Thelwell

Updated on 18 May 2010

Labour will appoint a new leader on September 25 allowing for four months of "time to debate", Harriet Harman has announced. Analysis from Gary Gibbon.

Harriet Harman has announced the new Labour leader will be unveiled on September 25 (Getty)

The race for the top job will conclude just days before the Labour party conference in Manchester, where the new leader will be unveiled.

Harman, who is acting leader of the party following Gordon Brown's resignation, said: "It is going to be a very important opportunity for us to reflect on the result of the general election, to renew the Labour Party and to re-engage with the British people."

Four million Labour members and supporters will be receiving ballot papers, in what Harman called "the biggest election of any organisation or political party in this country".

Labour leadership: how a contest works
Labour leadership: the likely contenders

Nominations by Labour members will open on Monday, while so far just two candidates - the siblings David and Ed Miliband - have put themselves forward for the leadership.

Harman has ruled herself out of the running, insisting that the "best contribution" she can make to the party is in her current role.

She dismissed claims that she is depriving Labour of a female voice. "Labour is still the voice of women in parliament," she said, pointing to the 80 female MPs in the party compared with 45 in the Conservative party.

"We'll see if any woman throws her hat in the ring," Harman added.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow work and pensions secretary, has also ruled herself out despite reported encouragement from her husband Ed Balls, the shadow education Secretary - who is widely expected to join the race.

Coral bookmakers are chalking up the contest as a straight scrap between the two Milibands, shortening the odds of both on becoming Labour leader. David is now the favourite at 4-9, while the odds of younger brother Ed taking up the role rest at 5-2.

Gary Gibbon blog: Long contest could harm David Miliband
Labour's NEC has agreed a long contest, with the leader being crowned at the Party's Conference in September. It's widely thought this harms the front-runner, David Miliband...Read more

Inviting new members to sign up to Labour in order to vote in the election, Harman said the timetable now outlined would "ensure the contest is open, engaging and energising".

Since the general election Labour has swelled its membership numbers by 13,000, and the party hopes to boost numbers further before 8 September - the cut off date for new members.

Harman said the long leadership contest would allow people the time to see how candidates conduct themselves.

Candidates have until 27 May - next Thursday - to enter the contest. They need 33 nominations by Labour MPs to enter.

Hustings will take place over the summer months of June and July, with balloting to follow from 16 August to 22 September.

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