Ed Miliband is almost certain to step down as leader of the Labour Party if he fails in his bid to become Prime Minister in 2015. But who would replace him?
Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, took part in Labour’s leadership contest in 2010, but finished fourth. In Opposition he’s thrown his weight behind some popular causes; he’s been a fierce critic of the Government’s NHS reforms and led the campaign for papers on the Hillsborough tragedy to be released to the public. Now with more experience and a bigger public profile, is he ready for the leadership?
A rising star in the Labour Party, Chuka Ummuna cringes whenever he’s compared to US president Barack Obama. But the similarities are hard to ignore. Umunna is young, charismatic, intelligent, handsome and of mixed race. The Shadow Business Secretary is also reported to have the backing of the party’s former leader, Tony Blair. And in a poll of people who voted Labour in 2010, he proved the most popular.
With 86 female MPs, Labour has by some way the highest number of women in the House of Commons. However, while Margaret Beckett and Harriet Harman have temporarily led the party, unlike the Conservatives, Labour has never had a permanent female leader. Yvette Cooper is the woman currently most likely to change that. She’s been strong and steady in her role as Shadow Home Secretary and is the bookies’ favourite to replace Ed Miliband.
One of the most experienced MPs on the shadow frontbench, Ed Balls worked in the Treasury when Labour were last in power, before being promoted to the role of Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. The Shadow Chancellor was beaten by the two Miliband brothers when he challenged for leadership of the party in 2010. However, with his wife, Yvette Cooper, also a leadership candidate, he may choose to avoid any future contests.
When younger brother Ed narrowly won the Labour leadership battle in 2010, there were many inside and outside the party suggesting that it had elected the wrong Miliband. David Miliband stepped down from the Shadow Cabinet in October 2010 and resigned as an MP in 2013 to become president of the International Rescue Committee charity in America. But at 49, he’s still fairly young and a return to frontline politics can’t necessarily be ruled out.