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Labour contest 'too close to call'

Voting in the Labour leadership election has been closed with the contest thought to be too close to call.

MPs, MEPs and party members had until 5pm on Wednesday to cast their ballots after voting for members of trade unions and affiliated organisations closed on Tuesday.

Polls suggest that shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband had closed the gap on brother David as the race came to the wire.

But bookmakers Ladbrokes still made shadow foreign secretary David the narrow 4-7 favourite, ahead of his younger brother on 5-4.

Labour's complicated electoral college system and the redistribution of votes to second-preference candidates makes accurate prediction of the result all but impossible.

Around three million people are expected to have voted, and their ballot papers will be counted by the independent Electoral Reform Society before the announcement of the successor to Gordon Brown on September 25.

The candidates - also including Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott - will be informed of the result shortly before the winner is unveiled in Manchester at 4pm on Saturday.

The winner will be plunged straight into Labour's annual conference in Manchester, using his or her first leader's speech to try to rally the party's troops and restore unity after a three-and-a-half month contest which has seen rows over whether to stick to the New Labour agenda.

Meanwhile, Harriet Harman will return to the post of deputy leader, after four months as acting leader.

Voting also closed on Wednesday in the race for Labour's nomination for the London mayoral elections in 2012, with former mayor Ken Livingstone and ex-MP Oona King believed to be frontrunners. The party's choice will be announced on Friday.


From Belfast Telegraph