I have just released the following press statement regarding Michael Meacher's announcement today that he is attempting to stand for Labour leader:
"We have been expecting Michael's announcement for over 9 months. It doesn't change things.
"It is clear that there should be an election for the leader of the Labour Party based upon a choice of policies not personalities. Michael's announcement doesn't change that choice.
"Labour Party members will still have the same choice between my record of voting against the war in Iraq, voting against tuition fees, voting against privatisation of our public services and cuts in benefits and the record of those ministers and former ministers like Gordon Brown and Michael Meacher, who have consistently voted for these policies.
"Virtually every rank and file organisation representing the active membership of the left of the Labour Party and the Trade Unions are publicly supporting my campaign and indeed ASLEF as the 1st union to nominate has unanimously nominated me. Our campaign on the stomp throughout the country is resulting in large numbers of people joining and rejoining the party and at long last young people are enthused by the prospect of a socialist challenge for the leadership.
"We now have about half the MP nominations required, with another 15 - 20 MPs who will support on the basis of a contest not a coronation. That leaves about 5 - 10 votes to fight for.
"I have asked Michael to come on board with our campaign but he's chosen to go his own way. Now let's have the debate on policies and the election and let the members decide."
The organisations that have so far committed to backing the campaign include: Aslef, T&G Broad Left, Amicus Unity Gazette, CWU Broad Left, Unison Broad Left, Scottish Labour Party Campaign for Socialism, Welsh Labour Grassroots, Labour Representation Committee, FBU and the RMT - as well as CLPs and trade union branches across the country.
We are also expecting nominations from other Labour party organisations in the coming weeks.
I want to thank everyone for their continued support for this campaign.