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Labour leadership candidates gather

The five candidates for the Labour leadership have arrived in Manchester to learn which of them has been elected successor to Gordon Brown.

After a gruelling four-month campaign, the name of the new leader will be unveiled at around 4.40pm at the Manchester Central conference centre, where Labour's annual conference is to begin.

Brothers David and Ed Miliband, shadow education secretary Ed Balls, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham and backbencher Diane Abbott are in the race to replace Mr Brown, who quit after taking Labour to defeat in the general election.

Observers believe the contest is a two-horse race between the Miliband brothers with the result too close to call, though bookmakers installed Ed as a last-minute favourite overnight after weeks in which David has led the field.

But as he left his London home to travel to Manchester for the declaration, David Miliband said speculation that his brother had won should be taken with "a very large skip of salt".

The shadow foreign secretary insisted he could work under his sibling's leadership, and joked that they would enjoy "more than a pint" whatever the result.

Asked about his chances as he arrived at the conference centre, Ed Miliband said: "I am confident about my campaign. No-one knows what the result is going to be. I am not going to start to trust the bookies now."

Mr Burnham joked about his own hopes, saying it had been "the week of the underdog" in football's Carling Cup - which saw his team Everton crash out to lower-league Brentford. "Having been at Brentford earlier this week - and then having seen Northampton Town at Anfield - I get the feeling it is the week of the underdog, don't you?"

Ms Abbott said she was "nervous", adding: "May the best person win."

The five candidates will be told the result around half-an-hour before it is officially announced, but have been sworn to secrecy to prevent the news leaking out early. Under Labour's complicated electoral college system, the party's MPs and MEPs, grassroots activists and members of affiliated organisations, including trade unions, are entitled to vote on the leadership, but an MP's vote is worth many times more than those of ordinary members. Around three million votes are thought to have been cast.


From Belfast Telegraph