Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Monday he would step down later this year to give his Labor party a chance of forming a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.
Brown said he intended to depart in time for a new party leader to be chosen before Labour’s conference in September.
Here are some details on likely contenders.
* DAVID MILIBAND:
Born in July 1965, Miliband was nicknamed “Brains” by Tony Blair’s former spokesman and has been foreign secretary since 2006, the youngest in that post since David Owen in 1977.
After Blair stood down as prime minister in 2007, Miliband was touted as a possible challenger to Brown for the top job. He was also briefly linked to a leadership challenge in 2008 before dismissing the media reports.
He is the bookmakers’ clear favorite to replace Brown.
* ALAN JOHNSON:
Moved from the health ministry to the more powerful interior ministry in June 2009. A guitar-playing former postman, Johnson, born in May 1950, is portrayed as a man of the people who could help Labor reconnect with its working class roots.
Johnson’s easy style impresses supporters, but critics say he is vague on policy, particularly on the economy.
He was orphaned at the age of 12 and brought up by his elder sister in a state-owned flat in London. He worked as a supermarket shelf-stacker before becoming a trade union leader.
* ED BALLS:
Brown’s former right-hand man at the Treasury, Balls was appointed Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families in June 2007. He is firmly on the left of the party.
Born in February 1967, Balls was educated at Oxford and Harvard and worked as a leader writer and columnist at the Financial Times. He is married to Yvette Cooper, the work and pensions secretary.
* ED MILIBAND:
Younger brother of David, Ed was born in December 1969 and is seen as one of the rising stars in the party. Supporters say he has a more relaxed presentational style than David and that would make him the best candidate to deal with slick Conservative leader David Cameron.
He was named Energy and Climate Change Secretary in 2008.
* ALISTAIR DARLING:
— Born in November 1953, the Edinburgh Central MP attended the private Loretto School on the outskirts of Edinburgh, before going on to study law at Aberdeen University.
Darling is a former left-winger who moved to the center ground when Blair revamped Labour during its long years in opposition. He took over as finance minister when Brown became prime minister in 2007
* HARRIET HARMAN:
Born in July 1950, Harman was educated at St. Pauls, one of Britain’s elite girls’ schools. She worked as a civil liberties lawyer before entering parliament in 1982.
The leader of the lower house and deputy Labor leader has close ties to Brown. Supporters describe her as a tenacious workaholic with a strong record on sexual equality and workers’ rights. Critics nicknamed her “Hattie Harperson” for her political correctness.
* PETER MANDELSON:
Mandelson, born in October 1953, was one of the architects of former prime minister Tony Blair’s “New Labour” project, which moved the Labour Party to the political center, enabling it to win a landslide election victory in 1997.
Currently First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, he served as MP for Hartlepool for 12 years from 1992, before vacating his seat to become a European Commissioner between 2004 and 2008.
Mandelson sits in the unelected House of Lords, which would prove an obstacle to him becoming Prime Minister.
Famous for his tactical skills as a backroom operator, Mandelson has long been nicknamed the “Prince of Darkness.”
* JON CRUDDAS:
No ministerial experience, on the left of the party but highly regarded by moderates too. Dubbed the “Thinking man’s street fighter” in an article by the Economist magazine.
Cruddas, born in April 1962, represents a constituency in east London where he has gained kudos for campaigning against the far-right British National Party which has a large support base in the area. -Reuters