David Miliband ahead in Labour leadership contest

David Miliband has overtaken his brother, Ed, in the race to secure support from fellow MPs for the Labour leadership amid signs that the former Foreign Secretary was managing to win backers from across the party.

Updated figures published yesterday showed that Mr Miliband, seen as a Blairite, had secured 51 official nominations from colleagues, with Ed securing support from 46 Labour MPs. The Miliband brothers remain the only two of the five candidates to have officially secured the 33 nominations needed to guarantee a place on the ballot paper.

Among the MPs to nominate David Miliband were Paul Flynn, a prominent left-wing figure, as well as John Woodcock, a new MP who worked for Gordon Brown at No 10 before running for his own seat. Senior party members have called on the brothers to urge supporters in the parliamentary Labour Party to vote for another candidate to ensure as wide a choice as possible.

Speaking at the launch of his campaign website, David Miliband said he would be "very happy" for his supporters who have not yet officially backed him to give their nomination to a rival. "The more the merrier," he said. Allies are urging Mr Miliband to seize the initiative by being frank about the task ahead of the party. They have also urged him to admit to mistakes made during Labour's 13 years in power.

Ed Balls, the former Schools Secretary has 24 backers. Andy Burnham, who relaunched his campaign in his Leigh constituency last night, has 14 nominations. Of the Left-wingers, John McDonnell has four, and Diane Abbott has yet to record any nominations.

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