BLACKBURN MP Jack Straw has repeated that he will not be running in the leadership contest.

Mr Straw told the Lancashire Telegraph on Friday night: “I am not a candidate for the leadership.”

And this morning he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ”I’ve had my 13th year on the front bench, 23 years since I was first elected to the shadow cabinet, so I’ve had a good innings.

“No one can persuade me.”

He said he was not backing any particular candidate and would wait for the hustings to see the arguments being made “for the future of the Labour Party”.

He said: “We lost the election in England, not elsewhere, amongst so-called decent hard-working families who felt, especially working-class people, disconnected from the Labour Party.

”We’ve done a great deal, as it were, for that group in terms of social welfare, education and so on, but they felt this argument about fairness quite strongly, particularly with respect to immigration and benefits.”

But Mr Straw said Labour is in “much better spirits and heart as a parliamentary party and in terms of numbers than ever I anticipated”.

David Miliband has emerged as early favourite to take over from Gordon Brown as the next Labour leader.

Mr Miliband, the former Foreign Secretary, is the front-runner in the Labour leadership contest with the bookmakers Paddy Power, William Hill and Ladbrokes.

Paddy Power are offering odds of 4/6 on Mr Miliband with Schools Secretary Ed Balls, a close ally of Mr Brown, close behind.

Mr Balls is backed into 6/1 from 16/1, to be new leader.

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