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David Miliband "well ahead on cash for leadership fight"

By Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2010-07-24 at 08.37.45 The Guardian reports this morning that the former Foreign Secretary is accused of "buying" the leadership election as wealthy Blairite donors push his campaign chest to £200,000 - causing what the paper describes as a 'disparity in financial backing" for the five candidates, which it believes to be "a big issue".

Two wealthy donors have each given him £50,000, sparking accusations within the party that the former foreign secretary is deploying far more staff than his rivals and is in danger of "buying the election" with "Blairite" support.

Sources inside the party apparently claim that recent tallies show David Miliband enjoying a huge cash advantage, raising three times as much as Ed Balls, nearly 14 times as much as his brother, Ed Miliband, and 17 times as much as Andy Burnham.

One of the donors who gave David Miliband £50,000 is Silvergate Investments Ltd, a film company run by the Labour peer Waheed Alli; another is David Claydon, a City economist who worked at Morgan Stanley and subsequently with Miliband at the Foreign Office.

Ed Miliband was given only £15,000 by named backers a month ago, while Ed Balls was given £15,500 by the novelist Ken Follett and office space worth nearly £13,000 by the Midlands MP John Spellar.  Neither Burnham nor Diane Abbott, recorded any individual donations of more than £1,500 for the same period.

A related row has also erupted over claims that Milliband supporters have enjoyed better access to the addresses of Labour party members. Such claims have been denied, and all candidates are now being offered access to party data for a limited period.

I've seen Ed Miliband to date as the front-runner, to the point of writing two open letters to him on this site.  When I last looked, the betting markets disagreed, and the ease with which Miliband senior is gathering money gives me pause for thought.  Whatever the outcome, the last round seems to be shaping up for a Cain-and-Abel climax.