Labour leadership hustings
What are the pertinent qualities and experiences that you would you bring to the role of leader of the Labour party, and what is your particular USP?
Ed Miliband: What a question! I believe I am the candidate best able to change Labour so that it again stands up for the interests of hard working people on low and on middle incomes. I am very proud of the many good things we did in government, but I also believe that if we are to reach out to those who lost trust in us as a party then we have to recognise where we went wrong and what we have to change. So I want Labour to do more to show we can have a new approach to our economy, supporting good-quality jobs and making sure the banks repay a fair share of the deficit. I want us to be more on the side of aspiration, getting more kids into university and helping them avoid the debt created by tuition fees for example, and I want us to recognise that we lost people's trust on issues like Iraq, which was a profound mistake, and ID cards, where we become too casual about people's liberties. I think that if we change as a party we can make politics relevant to people's lives again.
Ed Balls: My USP is that I can shorten the life of this coalition government by exposing and opposing the Tories and Lib Dems, as I have done throughout this contest – for example on the school-building cuts. And I have set out a credible alternative to the coalition's ideological and economically dangerous cuts. I have the strength of character not to get knocked off course by the Tories and the right-wing press, and to make the right calls under pressure, as I did on not joining the Euro or getting more funding for our schools. And I don't just talk and campaign, I get things done: I was the only Cabinet Minister to actually implement the Living Wage.
Diane Abbott: I have brought up a child on my own for 18 years and held down a full-time job. None of the other candidates have done that and I think it gives me reasonable practical experience of life. I am the only candidate who has been a city councillor, the only candidate who has been a trade union official, and the only person who has served on the National Executive of the Labour Party. None of the other candidates can match my knowledge of the party. The other candidates were fast-tracked into safe seats. I got into Parliament the more difficult way, working at the grassroots. I am the only candidate not associated with the sleaze, the spin and the macho infighting of the Blair/Brown years. And, on the most contentious issues of the past decade, I was right and the other candidates were wrong – notably on the War in Iraq. I am also a good communicator. And I think that we now all know this is essential in a party leader in this 24-hour news world. Also, I know how to reach out to people. In my own constituency I doubled my majority on an increased turn-out.
Andy Burnham: I can give Labour what the Tories and Lib Dems don't have - a Leader that ordinary people can relate to, and who can provide a real contrast to a Cabinet of millionaires across the floor of the Commons. My background has shaped my political philosophy and the policies I have brought forward during this campaign. I can speak for young people trying hard to break into the professions: I had to give up my job as an unpaid trainee because I couldn't afford to support myself. I can speak for families living on a financial knife-edge because my dad was an agency worker, having to travel to Ireland and Germany for work. And I can speak up for older people struggling to pay for care because I saw my own grandmother have to give up everything she'd worked for to do just that.
David Miliband: I have been a dad, a husband, a citizen, a brother and a politician. Those experiences shaped me - along with being brought up in a small family where unconditional love and support gave me security. I have learnt from successes and failures. My USP is to turn the Labour Party into an alternative government, not just an effective opposition. That means we must speak to the public as well as the party and take on the government in the battle of ideas.