“Ballots not received” as election deadline looms

Diane Abbott Photo: www.dianeabbott.org.uk

Hackney MP Diane Abbott this morning warned that some Labour Party members had not yet received ballot papers to vote for the party’s new leader, although the deadline is this afternoon.

Ex-ministers David Miliband and brother Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham are the other leadership candidates. Abbott, who is Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, told BBC Radio 94.9: “A lot of people, particularly in London, have said they have not had their ballots yet. So I am going to take this up with Labour Party headquarters this morning because it is obviously a problem”.

The deadline for members of trade unions and affiliated organisations to cast their votes passed yesterday, but MPs, MEPs and party members have until 5pm today  to make up their minds.

Abbott, who said she was “quietly confident” in the leadership election, said people could not vote online either as they need a ballot number which they have not got yet.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Millions of ballot papers have been issued and whenever problems have been reported we have taken action to solve them.”

Around three million people are expected to vote. The results will be announced shortly before the winner is unveiled at the party’s annual conference in Manchester on Saturday.

Ladbrokes had shadow Foreign Secretary David Miliband as the 1-2 favourite last night, ahead of younger brother Ed on 6-4.

Whoever wins is expected to use their first speech as Labour Party leader  to try to restore unity after months of uncertainty over Labour’s future agenda following the resignation of Gordon Brown after the party’s defeat in the May general election. Harriet Harman, who has been the party’s acting leader for four months, will return to the post of deputy leader.

Labour Party members will also be voting for their candidate for the 2012 mayoral election, where the front-runners are former mayor Ken Livingstone and Oona King, former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow.

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