Ed Miliband now bookies’ favourite to win Labour leadership

Both the punters and the pollsters now predict an Ed Miliband victory.

The votes may be in and counting may have began, but with the result of the Labour leadership election just a day away, Ed Miliband is gathering some final momentum.

Within the past few minutes, it's emerged that he is now the bookies' favourite to win the contest, the first time the markets have put him ahead of David. The news means that both the pollsters and the punters are predicting an Ed Miliband victory on Saturday.

Below are the latest odds from Political Smarkets:

Odds

Over at PoliticalBetting, Mike Smithson is calling it for Ed, noting that the younger Miliband appears to have gained ground in the MP/MEP third of the electoral college.

Elsewhere, the Guardian reports that David will serve under Ed if he loses the election, a sign that the elder Miliband's camp is at least preparing for the possibility of defeat.

Meanwhile, the other candidates are beginning to take stock of their campaigns. Ed Balls all but concedes defeat, suggesting that his close association with Gordon Brown proved fatal.

He says:

Gordon lost the election, and I was the person most associated with his leadership. Early on in the crucial first few months everyone was looking backwards to Brown, and saying it was time to move on . . . A lot of people have said to me: "You have fought the best campaign, but this is a two-horse race." It was very hard to break through that.

Andy Burnham criticises the electoral college system and calls for its replacement with a one-member-one vote system. He points out, as I have done before, that the vote of one MP is worth 600 times the vote of an ordinary party member. Whoever wins the leadership should put reform of the voting system on their agenda.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Benn vs McDonnell: how Brexit has exposed the fight over Labour's party machine

In the wake of Brexit, should Labour MPs listen more closely to voters, or their own party members?

Two Labour MPs on primetime TV. Two prominent politicians ruling themselves out of a Labour leadership contest. But that was as far as the similarity went.

Hilary Benn was speaking hours after he resigned - or was sacked - from the Shadow Cabinet. He described Jeremy Corbyn as a "good and decent man" but not a leader.

Framing his overnight removal as a matter of conscience, Benn told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "I no longer have confidence in him [Corbyn] and I think the right thing to do would be for him to take that decision."

In Benn's view, diehard leftie pin ups do not go down well in the real world, or on the ballot papers of middle England. 

But while Benn may be drawing on a New Labour truism, this in turn rests on the assumption that voters matter more than the party members when it comes to winning elections.

That assumption was contested moments later by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

Dismissive of the personal appeal of Shadow Cabinet ministers - "we can replace them" - McDonnell's message was that Labour under Corbyn had rejuvenated its electoral machine.

Pointing to success in by-elections and the London mayoral election, McDonnell warned would-be rebels: "Who is sovereign in our party? The people who are soverign are the party members. 

"I'm saying respect the party members. And in that way we can hold together and win the next election."

Indeed, nearly a year on from Corbyn's surprise election to the Labour leadership, it is worth remembering he captured nearly 60% of the 400,000 votes cast. Momentum, the grassroots organisation formed in the wake of his success, now has more than 50 branches around the country.

Come the next election, it will be these grassroots members who will knock on doors, hand out leaflets and perhaps even threaten to deselect MPs.

The question for wavering Labour MPs will be whether what they trust more - their own connection with voters, or this potentially unbiddable party machine.