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By Ray Fleming

IT cannot be said that the five contestants for the Labour party leadership make the political blood course through the veins. Two Miliband's, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham -- and Diana Abbott whose literally last minute nomination came only courtesy of votes from Harriet Harman, who as the party deputy leader had said she would not take sides, and David Miliband who may have thought the contest needed livening up even at the cost of backing an opponent. The summer months will be spent in hustings at local Labour party gatherings and

Trade Union meetings and the party's vote will be taken on the eve of the annual Conference at the end of September. This long-established process is similar to the one followed by the Conservatives to find a successor to Michael Howard but with the difference that the Conservative vote followed speeches by the candidates at a party Conference. The Guardian newspaper argued yesterday that Labour need not be in such a hurry to find their next leader and would do well to follow the Conservative procedure that produced David Cameron. Does anyone now wish the favourite David Davis had won?

David Miliband is a hot favourite with the bookmakers; Ed Miliband is popular in the parliamentary party; Ed Balls has support at the grass roots; Andy Burnham is little known and Diana Abbott is a wild card although she has not been tested in office as the others have been. Labour party managers will not want to change things but somehow the contest needs a boost.