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Balls joins Labour leadership race

Former children's secretary Ed Balls has declared that he is standing in the Labour leadership contest, saying the party needed to listen to the public.

Mr Balls visited Labour supporters at a Sure Start centre in Netherfield, Nottingham, to launch his campaign to become the party's next leader.

Mr Balls - long regarded as Gordon Brown's closest lieutenant in the Cabinet - is being supported by former schools minister Vernon Coaker.

Mr Coaker, the MP for Gedling in Nottinghamshire, worked under Mr Balls, 43, in the final months of Labour's Government.

He joins left-winger John McDonnell and brothers David and Ed Miliband - the former foreign and energy secretaries - in the race for the Labour crown.

Mr Balls said: "It's really important that we don't just talk to ourselves. We have got to hear what the public have got to say.

"We have to listen first and hear what the public have to say. It's important that we are a campaigning party but also a listening party."

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