Labour leadership battleground

PUBLISHED: 14:13 03 September 2010

Andy Burnham with Cllr Tanmanjeet Dhesi, chair of the local constituency Labour Party.

Andy Burnham with Cllr Tanmanjeet Dhesi, chair of the local constituency Labour Party.


A second Labour leadership candidate is to visit the town as the borough becomes the battleground for former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s replacement.

David Milliband, 55, is expected to visit an undisclosed location in Gravesham this Sunday as part of his campaign to gain Labour member support in the run up to the election for a new leader.

It will be exactly a month to the day leadership hopeful Andy Burnham, 40, visited and admitted the party had become “dangerously disconnected” with the electorate.

Party members from neighbouring constituencies in Medway and Dartford are invited, but the visit will be limited to members of the Labour Party only.

Chair of Gravesham Constituency Labour Party, Cllr Tanmanjeet Dhesi said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for party members to question one of the leadership candidates before they cast their votes.

“We are fortunate that David Milliband has been able to take time out from his busy schedule to visit us here in Gravesham. Andy Burnham has already been here so members will be better informed when the time comes to use their votes.”

The former Secretary of State for health met about 40 Labour activists at the Veteran’s Club, off Clarence Place, Gravesend, on August 5 and declared he was on a mission to fight back against the Conservatives who swamped the county at the general election, resulting in the controversial Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government.

He told the Reporter: “We need to make very clear statements to win back the trust of people who voted for us in 1997. My philosophy is aspirational socialism, to make this country fairer in terms of wealth, health and life chances.

“We became dangerously disconnected from working people and we have a huge job to regain their trust.”

Despite saying he was “hugely proud” of how Labour tackled while in power concerning the NHS, crime and tackling the recession, but added: “We also gave the impression we were in thrall to big business and our problems came home to roost in the recession. That was not for me.

“The party has got to change - I don’t believe we can have more of the same.”

Other contenders for the leadership include David Milliband’s brother Ed and Dianne Abbott. Leadership ballot papers were issued on September 1 and results are due to be announced at the party’s conference on

September 25.

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