Ed Balls progresses in Labour leadership race

Former schools secretary just one vote away from making it on to the ballot paper.

Labour has just updated the nominations counter on its website and there's some good news for Ed Balls. After being forced to deny that he would struggle to achieve the required 33 nominations, the former schools secretary is now just one vote away from making it on to the ballot paper.

It's worth noting that Yvette Cooper and John Healey are the only shadow cabinet members to have nominated him.

I expect that Balls's many opponents (inside and outside of the cabinet) will be pleased he's progressing. A large number believe it essential that he is defeated decisively in an open contest.

Elsewhere, David Miliband remains in the lead with 54 nominations, while Ed Miliband has 45. Andy Burnham has 17 nominations, but with 103 votes left to play for, he's still in with a shout of making it on to the ballot. But it doesn't look like either John McDonnell or Diane Abbott will do so. McDonnell has just six nominations and Abbott one (from David Lammy).

Here's a guide to who the shadow cabinet have nominated so far (those yet to nominate in bold):

Douglas Alexander (David Miliband)

Ed Balls (himself)

Hilary Benn (Ed Miliband)

Ben Bradshaw

Nick Brown

Liam Byrne

Andy Burnham (himself)

Yvette Cooper (Ed Balls)

Alistair Darling

John Denham (Ed Miliband)

Peter Hain (Ed Miliband)

Harriet Harman

John Healey (Ed Balls)

Tessa Jowell (pledged to support David Miliband)

Alan Johnson (David Miliband)

Sadiq Khan (Ed Miliband)

Pat McFadden (David Miliband)

David Miliband

Ed Miliband (himself)

Jim Murphy (David Miliband)

Jack Straw

Shaun Woodward

Rosie Winterton (Ed Miliband)

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Michael Gove definitely didn't betray anyone, says Michael Gove

What's a disagreement among friends?

Michael Gove is certainly not a traitor and he thinks Theresa May is absolutely the best leader of the Conservative party.

That's according to the cast out Brexiteer, who told the BBC's World At One life on the back benches has given him the opportunity to reflect on his mistakes. 

He described Boris Johnson, his one-time Leave ally before he decided to run against him for leader, as "phenomenally talented". 

Asked whether he had betrayed Johnson with his surprise leadership bid, Gove protested: "I wouldn't say I stabbed him in the back."

Instead, "while I intially thought Boris was the right person to be Prime Minister", he later came to the conclusion "he wasn't the right person to be Prime Minister at that point".

As for campaigning against the then-PM David Cameron, he declared: "I absolutely reject the idea of betrayal." Instead, it was a "disagreement" among friends: "Disagreement among friends is always painful."

Gove, who up to July had been a government minister since 2010, also found time to praise the person in charge of hiring government ministers, Theresa May. 

He said: "With the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to spend some time on the backbenches reflecting on some of the mistakes I've made and some of the judgements I've made, I actually think that Theresa is the right leader at the right time. 

"I think that someone who took the position she did during the referendum is very well placed both to unite the party and lead these negotiations effectively."

Gove, who told The Times he was shocked when Cameron resigned after the Brexit vote, had backed Johnson for leader.

However, at the last minute he announced his candidacy, and caused an infuriated Johnson to pull his own campaign. Gove received just 14 per cent of the vote in the final contest, compared to 60.5 per cent for May. 


Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.