David Miliband launches bid to become Labour leader
May 12 2010 By Matt McKenzie
DAVID Miliband said today he will be standing as a candidate for the Labour leadership.
In a statement outside Parliament just before 5.30pm, the former Foreign Secretary said he will launch his campaign next week in his South Shields constituency.
He said the task for the party was to present itself again as "an alternative government".
Surrounded by a handful of supporters on the steps of the Houses of Parliament, Mr Miliband: "We now have a contest to succeed Gordon as leader of the Labour Party.
"I will stand as a candidate. I do so with humility in face of the responsibility this post brings and passion for the causes and values that led me to join our party."
Earlier, former defence secretary Bob Ainsworth suggested he may back Miliband in the battle.
He said: "I have worked very closely with David in our previous briefs and I have been impressed with him.''
But he pledged to evaluate every candidate and examine what ``contribution" they could make, adding: ``I may even nominate somebody who I am not going to vote for, to ensure that we have an open contest."
Mr Ainsworth also called for a swift process, saying: ``What we need to do is to get the balance right on the leadership contest between having an inclusive process and being able to involve as many people as we can, and the timetable.
``I don’t think we need an artificially prolonged timetable - we can get a new leader in place by July.
``We have to avoid what was unarguably an error two years ago and have any kind of coronation. We have to have a welcoming and open process, and it has to be substance not show."
No candidates have yet officially declared themselves contenders in the race to replace Mr Brown, though former foreign secretary David Miliband is expected to do so later today.
Former schools secretary Ed Balls is thought to taking his time before deciding whether to stand, while Jon Cruddas - a potential standard-bearer for the left - is actively considering a leadership bid.
Other possible candidates include Mr Miliband’s brother Ed, former health secretary Andy Burnham and party ``greybeard" Jack Straw.
Former home secretary Alan Johnson was among a raft of MPs who ruled themselves out of standing, along with former work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper, former Wales secretary Peter Hain and former communities secretary John Denham.
Ms Harman urged her party to support their chosen candidates but be ``generous to the others".
``This is a contest within a team," she told them.
Former home secretary Alan Johnson earlier ruled himself out as a contender for the Labour leadership, announcing he will back David Miliband in the upcoming contest.
Mr Johnson had long been tipped as a possible successor to Mr Brown and was one of the leading Cabinet cheerleaders for a coalition with the Liberal Democrats which could have resulted in him taking the top job.
But this morning he said that Mr Miliband, the former foreign secretary, was the party’s ``greatest talent" and should be Labour’s new leader.
Asked if he was standing in the leadership contest, Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ``No, I’m not. I am going to support David Miliband."