In an email to supporters today, Ed Balls has denied claims in the Telegraph and elsewhere that he is quitting the race to become Labour’s next leader.
Rumours had circulated that Balls was ready to leave the contest after Unite backed Ed Miliband yesterday, perhaps to back David Miliband.
But Balls is unequivocal in his email:
“Given the claim that I am considering quitting the leadership contest and backing one of the other candidates, I wanted to deal directly and personally with the speculation.
I’ve never been a front runner in this campaign, I did not have the early organisation of some other candidates and I am behind on formal CLP and union endorsements.
But the votes which count won’t be cast until September. The Labour Leadership will be decided by millions of individual members of the party, the unions and socialist societies all making their own decisions – many of whom have not yet made up their minds.
And I have assembled a brilliant campaign team of MPs, activists, volunteers and individual trade union members who – with the support of the CWU executive – have helped me land the first blows on this wretched coalition government by taking the fight to them on VAT, free school meals and the school building programme.
So my message to local party activists, councillors and union members is this: I am fighting to defend the jobs and front line public services in your local communities; I will carry on fighting to stop unfair tax rises and the withdrawal of essential benefits; I will carry on fighting to defeat a coalition hell-bent on cutting public services, putting up VAT, cancelling new schools and turning recovery into a double-dip recession.”
As Balls says, he’s not the favourite in this campaign, but he’s shown himself to be a capable battler, and he’s surprised me and others with the tone of his fight.