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Leadership hopefuls' final hustings

Labour leadership hopefuls are to face hundreds of party members in the final hustings before the vote begins to replace Gordon Brown.

Front runner David Miliband will share a platform with brother Ed, along with Andy Burnham, Ed Balls and Diane Abbott, to be questioned by rank and file members in Manchester.

Polls show former foreign secretary David Miliband is the favourite with Ed Miliband a close second.

Despite the Milibands being some distance ahead of their rivals, Mr Burnham, the Leigh MP and only candidate to base his campaign outside London, has come out fighting.

The former health secretary will launch a national "defend our NHS" campaign in Manchester following the hustings, accusing the coalition Government of a "reckless gamble" with the health service.

Mr Burnham said: "Don't let anyone tell you this is a two-horse race. I'm in this for the long-haul and I'm in it to win."

Under Labour Party rules a third of the votes will go to each of three parts of the party, the MPs and MEPs, party members and the unions.

A YouGov poll of almost 2,300 Labour party members and trade unionists for The Sun published yesterday put David Miliband on 37% of first-preference votes, Ed Miliband on 29%, Mr Burnham and Ms Abbott in joint third on 12% and Ed Balls one point behind.

The survey also showed 52% of those polled think David Miliband would lead Labour to victory, Ed Miliband was seen as the most likeable candidate while Merseyside-born Burnham the most in touch with ordinary people.

The result of the final list of supporting nominations from constituency Labour Parties put David Miliband on 165, Ed Miliband on 148 and Mr Burnham on 44. Ms Abbott and Mr Balls trailed in with 20 and 17.he day before the party's annual conference begins in Manchester.


From Belfast Telegraph