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  As James Purnell quits, last flickers of the Blair Labour flame die out
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Last EditedRalphie  Feb 19, 2010 06:11pm
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AuthorEddie Barnes
News DateSaturday, February 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionFormer minister James Purnell, who quit the Cabinet last year, has walked away from frontline politics altogether and handed a major blow to the party's dwindling Blairite wing.

Two months before the general election, the man seen by many as a key figure in the party's future yesterday declared that he simply no longer wanted to be an MP.

The move is a major blow to his close friend, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, in the event of a post-election leadership contest. The pair were seen as the central figures for carrying the Blairite flame but Mr Miliband is now looking increasingly isolated.

It also adds to the list of MPs associated with the Blair project who are now going or already gone. They include John Reid, Alan Milburn, Patricia Hewitt and Stephen Byers.

Mr Purnell resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary last June in protest against Gordon Brown's leadership, arguing that he no longer believed the Prime Minister could beat the Conservatives.
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