Dennis Skinner backs David Miliband for Labour leader

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Indy Politics

David Miliband's Labour leadership bid received a boost today when he was backed by veteran left-winger Dennis Skinner.

The so-called "Beast of Bolsover" said he believed the shadow foreign secretary was the candidate who would fare best against David Cameron.

Mr Skinner has been a perennial maverick throughout his four decades in parliament, and holds totemic status for many on Labour's Left.

Although his influence has arguably waned over recent years, Mr Miliband's team will hope the endorsement helps convince traditionalists he is the right man for the top job.

In quotes posted on Mr Miliband's website, the Bolsover MP said: "For many Labour people this hasn't been an easy election to call. All of the candidates are of the centre left, they are all Labour. That isn't the issue here.

"The big question is who are the Tories afraid of? Who is the best candidate to stand up against Cameron at the despatch box? Who has the best chance to beat Cameron in an election?

"For me the best choice is David Miliband and that is why I will be supporting him as next Labour leader."

Mr Skinner had originally nominated backbencher Diane Abbott for leader, as she was struggling to get enough support to make the final ballot.

The winner of the contest is due to be announced on the eve of this month's party conference in Manchester.