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David Miliband wins backing

The Blair memoirs, released on the day that ballot papers for Labour’s leadership campaign were sent out, contains reflections on some of the candidates.

On David Miliband, the book says: “He did a masterful job of putting the Government programme together, keeping ministers happy even while guiding them, sometimes forcefully, towards a direction other than the one they intended . He was perfect for the first term: really clever, plainly, and with good party politics.”

As the party was looking for a new leader, Blair says Miliband came to see him: “Two years later he would be a different calibre of politician, with clear leadership qualities; back then in May 2007, as he sought my advice, he was hesitant and I felt fundamentally uncertain as to whether he wanted it.”

On Ed Balls: “I thought he behaved badly at points, and was wrong on policy – but I also thought he was really able, and a talent that any political party should be grateful to have.”

“Balls was and is immensely capable intellectually, and also has some of the essential prerequisites for leadership: he has guts, and he can take decisions. But he suffers from the bane of all left-leaning intellectuals. As I have remarked elsewhere, these guys never ’get’ aspiration.”

One of the leading contenders for the leadership, Ed Miliband, has only a handful of passing mentions, Andy Burnham is mentioned once in passing and Diane Abbot is missing.

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