David Miliband receives boost from Ed Balls ally

A prominent backer of Ed Balls in Labour's leadership contest today endorses David Miliband as his second choice, in what will be seen as a setback for Ed Miliband's campaign.

The senior Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson, one of Gordon Brown's closest allies, admits that Mr Balls trails the Miliband brothers in the Labour race and urges David Miliband to make Mr Balls shadow Chancellor if he wins, and to hand his brother another senior role such as shadow Home Secretary.

Mr Balls is unlikely to endorse David Miliband in public – a move which would amount to an admission of defeat and could harm his own level of support. But Mr Robinson's public support for David rather than Ed Miliband is highly significant, and Mr Balls is aware of Mr Robinson's decision. Mr Balls was a colleague of Ed Miliband for several years, and tension between the two former Brown aides is laid bare by Mr Robinson's decision to give his second preference to David Miliband rather than to his brother.

Writing in The Independent, Mr Robinson says that David Miliband has "the strength of character for the job" but suggests that his brother lacks the necessary experience to lead the Labour Party.

The former Treasury minister proposes a share-out of the top Opposition jobs, arguing that doing so would keep all three figures in frontline politics. There is speculation in Labour circles that David Miliband and Mr Balls might both refuse to serve under Ed Miliband if he wins the leadership.

Second preference votes could prove crucial when the result is announced on 25 September because a close contest between the two Milibands is expected. Yesterday Mr Balls likened the media coverage of the contest to a "soap opera" about the Milibands, saying this does not do "justice to the issues".

He said: "We've had a daily soap opera of one Miliband brother or the other, with their supporters or non-supporters, commenting here and there. It is a bit like in the election campaign where it was all about personalities. I think what the public want to know, what Labour members and voters want to know, is do we have plans to deal with the big issues of our time?"

He called for Labour to focus more on issues such as house-building, saying that the Government should use a £12bn "windfall" from public borrowing for 2009-10, which is coming in at £155bn, rather than the earlier forecast of £167bn. Andy Burnham, another Labour leadership runner, dismissed suggestions that the contest is a "two-horse race" between David and Ed Miliband. The shadow Health Secretary told the BBC he was "in a strong third position and gaining ground" on his rivals.

He accused senior party figures of "self-indulgent factionalism", arguing that he was not New Labour or Old Labour but "true Labour". He criticised the portrayal of the contest as "a battle between Old and New Labour", arguing that the party had to move on.

Mr Burnham said the media focus on the Milibands was "frustrating", saying he represented "mainstream majority opinion" among Labour activists. He said Labour had become "dangerously disconnected with ordinary working people" when in government, and that he was best placed to "rebuild from the bottom up".

He promised he would not be a "tribal" leader, but was prepared to take on the Coalition Government if public services were cut.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?