Page last updated at 18:05 GMT, Monday, 24 May 2010 19:05 UK

Ed Miliband has most support as Labour nominations open

Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband said he wants to recapture Labour's "idealism"

Ed Miliband has secured the most support from MPs so far in the race to become the next Labour leader.

Figures published by the party on the first day of official nominations show he has the backing of 34 MPs, enough to mean he can stand in the contest.

Candidates need the support of 33 MPs to be able to get on the ballot paper.

Among the other five contenders, David Miliband, Ed's brother, currently has 19 nominations Ed Balls has four and Andy Burham has one.

Neither Diane Abbott nor John McDonnell, both backbenchers on the left of the party, have any so far.

After the official nomination process opened on Monday, the Labour Party said they would update the figures twice a day on their website until nominations close on 9 June.

Early stage

The contest is at an early stage and the figures do not necessarily reflect the level of support behind each of the candidates.

Among the MPs officially backing Ed Miliband are former Cabinet ministers Hilary Benn, John Denham and Peter Hain.

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Miliband has won the confirmed backing of senior figures such as Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy.

Meanwhile, Mr Balls' backers include former ministers Ian Austin and Vernon Coaker.

Several senior party figures have publicly endorsed candidates but their names do not yet appear on the list. Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson, for example, has thrown his weight behind David Miliband.

Backbench MP Diane Abbott has said she is "on track" to get the 33 nominations needed.

The new leader will be elected through a ballot of MPs, MEPs, party members and members of affiliated organisations such as trade unions, with the outcome being announced at the party conference in September.

The ballot will be Labour's first contested leadership election since 1994. Gordon Brown did not face a challenge in 2007.

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