Welsh MPs split in backing for David and Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband [L] and David Miliband
Image caption Labour MPs in Wales so far appear to be split between Ed Miliband [L] and his brother David

Welsh Labour MPs appear evenly split between the two Miliband brothers in the election for the next party leader.

Of the 29 MPs, 11 each have declared for David and Ed Miliband, while two have publicly backed Ed Balls.

But among Labour AMs, Ed Miliband is the front-runner with the pledged support of 15 of 26.

However, because the voting system gives more weight to MPs, the AMs' support for Ed Miliband will not prove so significant.

As the ballot papers go out to party members ahead of the voting deadline of 22 September, an analysis by BBC Wales of the declared support shows the younger Miliband seems to have more backing among prominent Welsh Labour figures.

Ed Miliband is also supported by former Labour leader Lord Kinnock and his wife Glenys, a former MEP, as well as the party's sole Welsh MEP, Derek Vaughan.

Those 11 Welsh MPs rooting for David Miliband so far include Alun Michael, Mark Tami and Paul Flynn, while Kevin Brennan and Nia Griffith are the only two to have publicly backed Ed Balls.

No MPs or AMs have yet declared for the other two candidates, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott.

Mr Flynn, MP for Newport West, said: "I am supporting David because he has got the mental dexterity, the ability and the gravitas that many of the other candidates don't have.

"I believe that in 2015 when we are fighting that election, the one who will deliver a Labour government is David Miliband because of his personality and his presence and because of the way that he will present our case in the vital television debates."

'Head rather than heart'

Mr Flynn admitted he was voting with his "head rather than heart" and not supporting those closer to his policy beliefs because he wanted to back the man he believes will bring Labour back to power.

Meanwhile Anglesey MP Albert Owen pledged support for Ed Miliband as the candidate with the best blend of skills.

He said: "He has got the combined skills needed to be not just future prime minister but leader of the opposition, which is a very difficult job.

"He doesn't alienate people in the way that many others in the past and some of these candidates have the potential to do in the future.

"He is able to explain things and take people with him which is what we need when we see the coalition government moving very much to the right and there's an occupancy of centre left which David Milband and Ed Balls can't do but Ed Miliband can."

The vote follows the electoral college system which is broken down into three sections.

Labour MPs and MEPs, party members and members of affiliate organisations are all balloted individually and the results from the separate categories each make up a third of the final result.

The share of the vote from each category is divided proportionately to get the final winner.

In 1994, Tony Blair won the backing of 60% of MPs/MEPs, 58% of party members and 52% of affiliate organisations, meaning he won the contest with a 57% share of the overall vote.

Nearly a million people voted in the last contested election, in 1994.

Voting will take place between 16 August and 22 September with the winner being announced on the first day of the party's conference in Manchester on 25 September.

Fifteen of the 26 AMs have publicly declared for Ed Miliband: Rhodri Morgan, Andrew Davies, Rosemary Butler, Joyce Watson, Irene James, John Griffiths, Jeff Cuthbert, Edwina Hart, Christine Chapman, Brian Gibbons, Janice Gregory, Gwenda Thomas, Sandy Mewies, Ann Jones and Huw Lewis. No AMs have publicly backed the other candidates.

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