Straw backs Miliband in leadership race

David Miliband's hopes of being elected leader of the Labour Party were boosted yesterday when he was given the backing of Jack Straw.

The shadowJustice Secretary is the third Labour frontbencher to add his name to Mr Miliband's supporters. Alan Johnson, the shadow Home Secretary, and Alistair Darling, the shadow Chancellor, have already announced their support.

Mr Straw, who announced last week that he is to retire from the Shadow Cabinet in October, said in a letter to part members in his Blackburn constituency: "In my view there is one outstanding candidate with the qualities necessary both to be Leader of the Opposition, and then Prime Minister.

"In my judgment it is David Miliband who without doubt should be our next Leader. He will get my vote."

* Gillian Duffy, who was controversially described as a bigoted woman by Gordon Brown during the general election campaign, was last night guest of honour at the official opening of the constituency office of Rochdale's new Labour MP, Simon Danczuk. She said: "I never wanted to hurt the Labour Party at all. I wanted them to get in at the last election. I felt very sorry for Gordon Brown."

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