Under-fire Ed Miliband closes on David

LABOUR leadership contender Ed Miliband claims being criticised by Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson for standing as a candidate has helped his campaign as a survey by the Yorkshire Post reveals he is narrowly trailing his brother David in support among the region's MPs.

The Shadow Energy Secretary, MP for Doncaster North, has the backing of eight of the region's MPs compared with 12 who are supporting his older brother as their first preference, our survey has revealed.

Meanwhile six MPs are backing Shadow Schools Secretary Ed Balls, the Morley and Outwood MP, and four are supporting Andy Burnham.

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But the difference between the Milibands is much closer when all-important second preferences are taken into account. If – as expected – the contest ends up being between the two brothers and the three other contenders are knocked out, Ed Miliband will pick up support from another four MPs who have backed him as their second preference, compared with just one who will move over to his brother.

With just a fortnight until the winner is announced, the two candidates from this region today reveal in the Yorkshire Post how their experiences in the area have shaped their political beliefs.

Ed Miliband declares himself "increasingly confident" he will win. "I think the interventions that have been designed to hurt my candidacy have overall helped my candidacy," he says.

Meanwhile Mr Balls claims he has made people rethink their opinion of him during a campaign in which he has taken on Education Secretary Michael Gove over the scrapping of school-building schemes and challenged the coalition's spending cuts. Party members are now "thinking again about who to vote for", he says.