David Miliband hopes for regional support in leadership race

DAVID Miliband will begin a two-day tour of Yorkshire today as he seeks to win support for his Labour leadership bid.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary returns to Leeds, where he lived for five years until he was 12, saying his time in Yorkshire helped shape his views today.

He will hold meetings in Leeds today and be in South Yorkshire tomorrow as he seeks to see off challenges from two Yorkshire MPs – his brother Ed and the Shadow Schools Secretary Ed Balls – as well as Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham and left-winger Diane Abbott for the leadership.

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"The value of community was taught to me in Horsforth," he told the Yorkshire Post as he recalled eating fish and chips and playing football.

"It's reinforced by my constituency in South Sheilds but I'm a believer in rights being matched by responsibilities, treating people with respect and equality of opportunity.

"That's what I learned then. I'm passionate about education and equality of opportunity."

With his brother Ed, MP for Doncaster North, Mr Balls, MP for Morley and Outwood, and Mr Burnham all reeling off mistakes that Labour made during its 13 years in power, Mr Miliband said he was "the person who says we should be more proud of our record".

He said he was "not interested in debating how we could have had a better yesterday, I'm interested in how we have a better tomorrow."

In a rebuke to his brother and Mr Balls, who have both criticised the decision to go to war in 2003, Mr Miliband said the party should not get dragged into repeating old arguments over the war in Iraq or the 10p tax row, which hit millions of people on low incomes.

"What matters is how we're going to be a party of wealth creation and fairness for the future," said Mr Miliband, the candidate who was closest to Tony Blair during his time in office and is the bookmakers' favourite to win the job.

"I think the leadership election can be a credit to the party – it's been warm, generous and comradely so far and I'm confident that will continue. I think the party will emerge stronger, more confident in itself.

"The Liberals have cooked their goose by running for election on the basis they will keep the Tories out and then put the Tories in.

"We've got to be ready to be the party of the centre-left."

Mr Miliband has already had to make more tickets available for one of today's meetings after the initial allocation were taken up so quickly, and he is aiming his message to both party members who will vote on the leadership and to the wider public.

He is due to attend events at Leeds Islamic Centre and at Leeds Civic Hall alongside Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton, before going to South Yorkshire tomorrow where MPs Denis MacShane, Caroline Flint and Angela Smith are among his supporters.