Tristram Hunt rules himself out of Labour leadership race

Shadow education secretary endorses Liz Kendall after 'bulk' of MPs back Cooper and Burnham

Labour Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt
(Image credit: LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty)

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has ruled himself out of the Labour leadership race and thrown his support behind Liz Kendall.

Candidates have until 15 June to obtain nominations from 35 colleagues, equivalent to 15 per cent of the party's MPs, ahead of a ballot in September.

Hunt was among the top five MPs tipped to have the best chance of becoming leader, but today he revealed that he was not confident of winning enough support from colleagues to launch a bid.

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After speaking to many MPs, he said it appeared that the "bulk" of his colleagues are already committed to the two leading candidates, Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper.

The MP for Stoke-on-Trent said he had been focusing on winning the election, while others clearly had "longer, more established ambitions", reports The Guardian.

Instead, Hunt will endorse Kendall, who he said has the "right ideas" and the "right leadership mettle" and he is pulling out of the race partly to maximise the chances of her gaining the 35 nominations she needs.

Hunt, a historian and journalist, had previously urged the party not to rush the leadership election, calling for a "brutal post-mortem" of Labour's "underlying philosophy and thinking". Today he expressed surprise that the nomination process for a leader had been "largely decided within at most five days of a devastating election defeat".

During a long speech to the think tank Demos in London, he floated the idea of a "break clause" to enable the party to change its leader ahead of an election.

He also warned against "micro-targeting" different groups of the electorate in an attempt to win back support.

The party needs to demonstrate that it is "on the people's side" and earn the right to be trusted with their future, he said. "I believe that only comes when we offer a broad-based, forward-looking Labour project. A 100 per cent strategy. Not the timid, institutionalised caution which led so many to believe we had a 35 per cent strategy."

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