Dan Jarvis, the Labour MP seen as a dark horse contender for the leadership contest, has thrown his weight behind shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.
Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central and a former British army officer, said the party had suffered a “tragedy” during the General Election, in which the Conservatives rose to a surprise outright win, with several key Labour names including Ed Balls losing their seats.
Labour also suffered huge losses in Scotland, where the SNP won all but one seat it was contesting.
Writing in the Daily Mirror, Jarvis said Labour needed “a unifying leader with the broad appeal to win those people back”.
“That’s why I am supporting Andy Burnham and will be doing everything I can to ensure he is elected as leader of the Labour party.”
Jarvis added: “I’ve served under many leaders in my life, and I never got to choose them when I served in the army. I’m choosing to support Andy because I’m convinced he has the strength, experience and character needed to bring our party together and restore Labour’s connection with the British people.”
Burnham's rise from “humble roots... speaks to the sense of ambition Labour should have for every child growing up in Britain today,” Jarvis said.
He also noted Burnham's work in seeking to protect the NHS, widely seen as Labour's trump card.
Crucially to win support from the business community, Jarvis argued that Burnham has economic credentials.
“Andy has rightly recognised how Labour’s hopes in this election were dashed by doubts about our economic competence. He has tackled them head-on,” Jarvis said.