'Sons of Blair' do battle with 'Sons of Brown' for Labour's leadership

Burnham joins the race as left-winger McDonell admits he is unlikely to win mass support

Another new Labour figure will join the race to succeed Gordon Brown today as calls grew for the party to rip up its timetable for electing a new leader.

Andy Burnham, the former health secretary, is the fifth candidate to enter the race. The 40-year-old is the fourth to come from a New Labour background, prompting complaints from activists that they are not being offered a genuine choice about Labour's future. The only left-wing candidate, John McDonnell, has admitted he is unlikely to attract enough support from fellow MPs to feature on the ballot paper.

Mr Burnham, who has been an MP for Leigh, Greater Manchester, since 2001, is associated with the Blairite wing of the party, having begun his career as a parliamentary private secretary to David Blunkett, the former home secretary. He joined the government in 2005, with the job of driving through Tony Blair's ill-fated plan to introduce identity cards.

Some in the party believed his delay in declaring may have been down to some of his supporters unexpectedly backing David Miliband, another Blairite figure. It had been rumoured that Tessa Jowell, the former Olympics minister, was in line to manage Mr Burnham's campaign. However, Ms Jowell has now declared her support for Mr Miliband.

Ed Balls, the former schools secretary and one of Gordon Brown's closest advisers, launched his leadership bid in the marginal constituency of Gedling, in Nottinghamshire, yesterday. In an interview last night, he seemed caught out by his closeness to Mr Brown. He said they had "definitely disagreed about a number of things" but struggled to think of any recent examples.

"I thought to raise expectations and then not have the election in 2007 was a mistake; I said that at the time. I thought the abolition of the 10p tax rate was a mistake and I told Gordon that at the time," he told the BBC's PM programme. "But I'm not going to spend my time looking backwards and criticising things Gordon did and didn't do. I supported him as leader.

"Me, and Ed [Miliband] and David Miliband, and all other members of the Cabinet worked very closely with both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown over that period of time and are proud to have done so." He also denied claims he was a bully. "I hate bullies," he said. "If you have a surname like mine, you know what bullying is about."

Last night, the party was considering demands for candidates to be given more time to raise the support of 33 MPs, which they need if they are to feature officially in the contest. MPs and activists had protested that next Thursday's 12.30pm deadline would stop candidates such as Mr McDonnell from running.

A change of heart now looks possible after Ed Miliband, the former climate change secretary and leadership contender, supported the demands. "MPs/members annoyed about short nominations timetable: I have to say I agree," he wrote on Twitter. "[We] need broadest possible choice and time for MPs to decide and consult."

Chuka Umunna, the newly elected MP for Streatham, said the new intake of Labour MPs needed longer to decide who to back. "MPs are the gatekeepers of the leadership contest shortlist and we – particularly new arrivals – need more than nine days to come to a properly considered decision," he said.

Labour's procedures committee will reconsider the curtailed nominations deadline at a further meeting today. The original timetable had been voted though by the ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) on Tuesday. Members of the NEC were still angry last night that the party had been "profoundly and deliberately misled" in agreeing to next Thursday's deadline.

Mr McDonnell has now circulated a letter to the other candidates, asking them to join his campaign to lower the number of nominations needed and extend the time for candidates to throw their hat into the ring. He also criticised the race as being "totally unrepresentative of the party and our community" as all the contenders were white men.

Launching his own leadership bid, Mr McDonnell said the party needed to "reignite the moral basis of the Labour party" if it was to succeed.

"Members were encouraged when the Labour hierarchy invited a wide range of candidates to stand and they expected a long campaign with the chance to have their voices heard. Yet the old bureaucracy has reasserted itself and has demanded control by drastically limiting the nomination period. The ideas and visions that our movement represent can not be silenced."

Mr McDonnell, who failed to get enough nominations to challenge Mr Brown during the last leadership race, said that without another candidate, the vote would be "like a fight between the sons of Blair and the sons of Brown".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
Sport
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
News
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
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

Recruitment Genius: Inside Sales - OTE to £45,000

£25000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a leading supplier of bu...

Recruitment Genius: Installation Engineer - Driveway

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative, fast growing f...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Project Manager - Technical

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a Jun...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral