Leading Labour MP Tristram Hunt will not stand for the leadership of the Labour Party, complaining that the early candidates in the race had already stitched up the nominations each requires to enter the race.
However, Mr Hunt boosted Leicester MP Liz Kendall's leadership ambitions by saying that she has "the confidence and courage" to take over the post vacated by Ed Miliband after the election drubbing at the hands of the Conservatives.
Expressing surprise at the speed with which Labour MPs had signed up to support runners in the race, Mr Hunt said he had found after a series of telephone calls “that the bulk of MPs are already committed to just a couple of candidates”.
“It is surprising that the nomination process to select a leader for at least the next five years appears to have been largely decided within, at most, five days of a devastating general election defeat,” he said.
Labour colleagues voiced little sympathy for Mr Hunt, saying he had made little effort to build ties since his election five years ago and that he has done little as shadow education secretary to justify his reputation.
Criticising David Miliband’s strategy to appeal to Labour’s core voters, plus disaffected Liberal Democrats, Mr Hunt complained: “We did not lack for political ideas, what we lacked was political courage. In our strategic straitjacket we refused to accept them, to make the argument for them.”
Following the election, Mr Hunt said that Labour had failed to connect with voters "who shop in Waitrose", a remark that provoked ridicule from some north of England MPs. "There isn't a Waitrose within 60 miles of my constituency," one told The Irish Times.