Page last updated at 20:58 GMT, Tuesday, 15 June 2010 21:58 UK

As it happened: Newsnight Labour leader hustings


Watch in full: Newsnight's Labour leadership debate

By Emma Griffiths

2333That's it from us for tonight. Thanks for all your tweets and emails. There was some lively debate, particularly on Iraq - the contenders who were MPs before 2005 did not think it was a good idea to try to "rewrite history" on the war. There were no knockout blows but it is still very early days in this contest, which has another three months to run.

Michael Crick
2323Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Hard to say who won tonight. Ed Balls performed better than he seems to have done on other occasions. The Milibands seemed more alike than they have in the last few days. Andy Burnham seemed outshone, and failed to make many of the successful points he made when I saw him at the GMB. And Diane Abbott held her own against the four former cabinet ministers. All failed to inspire, to show vision and optimism. Read Michael Crick's blog

2323 Carole Williams from London tweets: Good end to a good debate. Choices for leaders revealed a lot about nominees for #labourleader. Read Carole Williams' tweets

2322 And the debate finishes.Stick with us for a few more minutes for a bit of further analysis

Michael Crick
2322Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Who was their personal choice as the greatest leader? Ed Balls says Tony Blair. Amazing. And when David Miliband plumps for Tony Crosland, Paxman points out he was an intellectual who never was, David Miliband says he died, suggesting that was before he got a chance. But Crosland did, in fact, run in 1976, and lost badly. Read Michael Crick's blog

2321 Nico MacDonald from London tweets: Truisms, banality and unoriginal ideas abound in #Newsnight #LabourLeader hustings. Occasional flashes of wisdom from Abbot and Milibands Read Nico MacDonald's tweets

2316 A last question on England's beleaguered goalie Robert Green and whether he should be picked for the game against Algeria on Friday. No one seems willing to put the boot in, so to speak.

2315Who would the rivals back as the greatest PM? Ed Balls backs Tony Blair, David Miliband backs Anthony Crossland, Diane Abbott and Andy Burnham backs John Smith, Ed Miliband backs Clement Attlee. There is some confusion - David Miliband points out he thought it was about someone who did not become leader.

Michael Crick
2314Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: "We were wrong on 90 days" David Miliband spells it out. That's new. But the last government was not wrong on CCTV, he adds. Read Michael Crick's blog

2314 Ed Miliband suggests mistakes were made on ID cards, although he backs the DNA database. Ed Balls says terrorist powers were allowed to be used in non-terrorist situations. "We went too far," he says. But government does need to act for people, he says, suggesting Diane is being "anti-government".

Michael Crick
Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Burnham and both Milibands arguing for more devolution of power - to local government. But what opposition politician doesn't argue that? Read Michael Crick's blog

2313 On civil liberties, Diane Abbott says it is "tragic" that Labour has handed the issue to the Tories - ID cards were wrong, she says. David Miliband says Labour was not "wrong" on CCTV. Andy Burnham says the ID card would have given people the ability to protect their own details and that argument was not made. He also backs the DNA database as important for justice. Diane Abbott says he's looking at it from the "top down" - young black boys in her Hackney constituency who are repeatedly stopped by police do not see it as liberating, she argues.

2311 Richard Simcox from London tweets: Well said Diane. People need the state to provide quality public services Read Richard Simcox's tweets

2310Andy Burnham argues for "national standards" in the NHS, rather than a "postcode lottery". David Miliband says England, outside London, has not had power devolved to it - which may have cost Labour seats. His brother tries to interrupt and eventually gets in. People have to feel that things that matter to them - like bus services - are in the hands of local authorities. Britain is too centralised, he says.

Michael Crick
2310Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Ed Balls denies the state is too big, and makes a passionate case for it. David Miliband says there are cases where the state has got too big. More interesting still, he said it got too big when the Blair and Brown governments tried to introduce 90-day detention. And Diane Abbott thinks the state should be bigger in some areas Read Michael Crick's blog

2310 Christopher Pullen from Plymouth tweets: Very glad to hear @edballsmp's comments on the size of the state. Read Christopher Pullens' tweets

2309 Is the state too centralised?, Jeremy Paxman asks. The Milibands and Andy Burnham say yes, Diane Abbott says "not necessarily". Ed Balls doesn't answer. When pressed, he says Labour got the balance right.

2308 David Miliband says the state got "too big" on the 90-day detention issue - which resulted in Tony Blair's first Commons defeat as PM.

e-mail sent in by reader
2306 Simon Holdrick from Leeds, UK, writes : They all seem to be trying to show how distant they were from the decisions of the failed previous government - no mention of policy or anything that actually separates them from their rivals.

Michael Crick
2306Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: There are odd moments when David Miliband's speaking style, especially when he's trying to be grave and serious, is just like Tony Blair Read Michael Crick's blog

2305 Ed Balls says it was not easy as people were saying if you were pro-European, Britain should join the Euro. It would have been a catastrophe, he says. Andy Burnham says he stood up and spoke against Britain joining the Euro when a backbencher at a meeting organised by Peter Mandelson - he jokes he thought it was the end of his career.

2304 Russell Whiting from Nottinghamshire tweets: Most of the candidates on #newsnight seem to be trotting out sound bites, esp both Milibands Read Russell Whiting's tweets

2303 On to Europe now. David Miliband is asked to congratulate Ed Balls for keeping Britain out of the Euro - he says it was a good thing but jokes it was not just down to one man

Michael Crick
2302Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Interesting differences between the Milibands. When David says people are trying to rewrite history on Iraq, Ed interjects to say "I'm not trying to rewrite history". Read Michael Crick's blog

2300 Ed Balls says in 2005 he said he would have voted for the war - had he been an MP at the time - and he was not "re-writing history" as at the time he believed what was being said about WMD in Iraq. He says Ed Miliband did not answer the same question at the time

2259 David Miliband says leadership is about taking tough decisions not ducking them - he says his record as foreign secretary shows he can do that. But he says the idea that Iraq cost Labour the 2010 election is not stood up by his contact with voters. Andy Burnham says Iraq was a "difficult decision" but they should not "go back and conveniently re-write the past" - a dig at some of his contenders perhaps? He says he does not back away from the original decision.

2259 Noel Brown from Manchester, UK, writes: Candidates mentioned closing the gap between rich and poor. Why did it widen when they were in government?

2258An emailer says Labour stopped listening - as demonstrated by the Iraq war. Ed Miliband says the war was "a catastrophic loss of trust for us" and reminds viewers he was not an MP at the time. Diane Abbott says she's the only one of the contenders who marched against the war.

Michael Crick
2257Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Did I hear Ed Balls says he didn't want to be chancellor under Gordon Brown? Read Michael Crick's blog

2257 Everyone's trying to get their point across. Diane Abbott says while they might agree on some things - they differ on what they would cut. She would cut Trident.

Michael Crick
2256Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: David Miliband says keep 50p tax rate till end of this Parliament. Ed Miliband repeats he would keep it permanently. Andy Burnham for medium term. Read Michael Crick's blog

2255 Andy Burnham - the former health secretary - defends spending on the NHS. The candidates are happy to agree when talking about the coalition's plans for cuts. Ed Balls says Labour should have ruled out a VAT rise during the election campaign.

2254 Gordon MacRae from Edinburgh tweets: Ed Miliband strong on immigration. Sort housing, jobs, not visas and movement of people Read Gordon MacRae's tweets

2253Jeremy Paxman intervenes as David Miliband presses on - "let your brother have a go", he says, as Ed Miliband says Labour would make "fair" decisions on spending. He would keep the new 50p top rate of tax "permanently". Andy Burnham says he would keep it "for the medium term".

2253David Miliband turns his fire on "the Tories" - by which he means the coalition government. He says Labour are the party of "growth" without which "you can try to cut the deficit until you are blue in the face" as unemployment will rise.

2252 Diane Abbott says Labour's record is not "spend, spend, spend" it is "investment". She warns against a "race to the bottom" in Europe. Labour should look at a "wealth tax" before people start cutting jobs, she adds.

e-mail sent in by reader
2252 John from Edinburgh writes: How, in a matter of months, can these leading politicians completely change their labour agenda and labour values? They have no credibility

2251Ed Balls says the pace of immigration in the last decade had an effect on people's lives - but says he supports immigration from eastern Europe, if it is "managed well".

2250Andy Burnham says Labour has to recognise that immigration was an issue - he says agency workers should have been given more protection. "That was our mistake," he says. There was also an issue about immigrants sending benefits home which Labour should have acknowledged, he says.

Michael Crick
2249Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Odd to hear Diane Abbott defending Gordon Brown whilst Ed Balls' pitch dwells on how Gordon Brown seemed out of touch. Read Michael Crick's blog

2247Diane Abbott says the idea that immigration lost Labour the election "takes us nowhere" - actually people were worried about things like a lack of jobs. Ed Miliband agrees that it would be an "illusion" to suggest that the Gillian Duffy moment lost Labour the election.

2246 Ed Balls says it was right to be "loyal to the leader" during the "searing" financial crisis. He says David Cameron did not strike a chord with the public during the election campaign either.

2246 Jonathan Ridge from Manchester tweets: Burnham had the best opening speech, I think. Surprisingly. Read Jonathan Ridge's tweets

Michael Crick
2245Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Good question from the man in the green jumper. An audience member asked David Miliband why he didn't challenge Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership. By my reckoning David Miliband ummed and erred four times about challenging Brown. Read Michael Crick's blog

2244Andy Burnham says he is not a factional politician and he believed the country was best served by a Labour government. Diane Abbott - who did not nominate Gordon Brown for leader in 2007 - says some of those who did were quick to "stab him in the back" when things went wrong

2243 Ed Miliband denies he begged his brother not to stand against Mr Brown - he says it was right to be "loyal to Gordon". He says Labour became "technocrats and managers" - that's why they lost. Ed Balls says Mr Brown did not recognise that Gillian Duffy was speaking the language of many voters.

Michael Crick
2243Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Diane Abbott says she's been an MP twice as long as some rivals - four times as long as the two Eds, who were only elected in 2005. She became an MP in 1987. That night I secured her an interview in ABC News in the US, as Britain's first black woman MP. Read Michael Crick's blog

2242 An audience member asks why none of the candidates had the courage to stand against Gordon Brown before the election. David Miliband says he wasn't ready to be PM in 2007 - that's why he didn't stand.

2242 Nick Drew from Moseley, UK, tweets: Here we go. Interested to see how the #labourleader contenders compare. Still genuinely undecided. Read Nick Drew's tweets

2241Next up is Diane Abbott, she says she is the "turn the page candidate" who has stood up on the big issues - like the Iraq war. Ed Balls is the last to give his opening statement, saying Labour had done "great things" but lost because people felt they had lost touch on some issues. He also refers to his family background

Michael Crick
2240Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Ed Miliband stressed how his parents had fled from the Nazis. Did David want to say that too? Read Michael Crick's blog

2239David Miliband says he is "real" and refers to the comprehensive school he went to. He says he wants to change "dreams into reality" and says he "has got what it takes" to be a credible prime minister

Michael Crick
2238Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Andy Burnham, neither of whose parents went to university, again stressing his lowly roots. He once ran on the pitch in an FA Cup semi-final. Read Michael Crick's blog
2238 Ed Miliband makes his pitch next, he refers to his parents "refugees from the Nazis" and says they taught him politics can make an enormous difference to people's lives. He also says he wants to be "your prime minister".

2237Andy Burnham is first up. He promises to give Labour a "leader people can relate to" who can provide a contrast to a "cabinet of millionaires"

Michael Crick
2235Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: In 2005 the Conservative leadership contenders took part in two TV debates. But they were decisive. David Davis was reckoned to have beaten David Cameron in at least one of them. Read Michael Crick's blog

Michael Crick
2232Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: One contender tonight is another's MP. Ed Balls lives in Diane Abbott's Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency. Has that ever happened before? I wonder. Read Michael Crick's blog

Michael Crick
2229Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: Some think Diane Abbott will have the advantage tonight as a regular panellist on the BBC's This Week programme. And in her earlier life she was a TV reporter with Thames TV and TVam. Read Michael Crick's blog

e-mail sent in by reader
2231 Nils Schmidt-Hansen from Norwich, UK, writes: By the time of the next general election, I will be old enough to cast my vote. I have recently discovered that I am a strong Labour supporter. When I do cast my first vote, I want to see Labour with a strong leader, who has the determination to take Labour back to Number 10.

Michael Crick
2230Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick says: "Tonight's debate is the ninth occasion the Labour leadership contenders have debated with each other in the last nine days, and there are at least another 42 hustings events to go - 51 in all scheduled so far. But this is the first debate to be televised in full. So for the first time the contenders won't be addressing just MPs or party activists - people "in the know" - but the four million or so union members and party members, who can vote in this contest." Read Michael Crick's blog

2229 The audience is settling down in the Newsnight studio. The five Labour leadership contenders will make opening pitches before facing questions - they've already drawn lots to determine which order they go in

2228 Stephen Farrington from London tweets: Tough choice for #labourleader candidates on #newsnight: appeal to voters who will choose a leader, or those who will choose a PM? Read Stephen Farrington's tweets

2221 The audience of current and former Labour voters are in their seats in the Newsnight studio, as Jeremy Paxman runs through last minute preparations.

2217 What might the Labour rivals be asked about? The economy seems a dead cert. The coalition government has been keen to park the blame for Britain's economic woes at Labour's door and has been talking up the need for big cuts. What would the contenders do if they were in power? Other issues that might well get an airing are the Iraq war, which proved so divisive for the party, and immigration - which some of the contenders have singled out as one of the reasons voters deserted Labour at the general election.

2204 Peter Lord from Sussex tweets: I hope the #labourleader candidates will have a more detailed discussion of how we further redistribute wealth & power on #newsnight tonight Read Peter Lord's tweets

2203 Adam White from Manchester tweets: I would really like to see a #LabourLeader hustings that focuses solely on economic policy. Read Adam White's tweets

e-mail sent in by reader
Simon Oughton from London writes: The Labour-leadership election prompts a vital question: what is the Labour Party for? Is winning elections all that matters? Or is there something more important: being the party that protects public services and employment, being the party of democracy?

2201As well as questions from Jeremy Paxman, the contenders - David and Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott - will be quizzed by the audience, all of whom have voted Labour at some point but are not necessarily party members

e-mail sent in by reader
Daan Kang from Leicester writes: I'm very disappointed that none of the contestants have spoken out in favour of the Single Transferable Vote. If we are to have genuine electoral reform, a fair method of voting is absolutely necessary.

2155Hello, and welcome to our live text commentary of the first televised Labour leadership hustings. BBC Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman will be asking the questions of the four men - and one woman - who are vying for Gordon Brown's old job and Newsnight's political editor Michael Crick will be offering some insights as the programme goes out. We will also be publishing some of your comments and tweets during the 40 minute debate, which gets underway on BBC2 at 2230 BST.

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