Labour leadership hopeful Yvette Cooper has attacked some of her colleagues for “swallowing the Tory manifesto” in what will be seen as an attack particularly on Liz Kendall, her rival for the top job in the party.
Speaking on the BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, Cooper attempted to draw a distinction between her approach and those of the two other main hopefuls, Andy Burnham and Kendall, who have been quicker to ditch former leader Ed Miliband’s election policies.
Although Burnham has been seen as the favoured candidate of Labour’s left, Cooper appeared to be making a pitch to some of his potential supporters by making it clear that she would keep Labour’s policy of bringing back a 50p top rate of income tax.
“I think it is the right thing to do right now, yes, because the deficit is still coming down, it’s still too high, it’s got to come down and as part of bringing it down we should have a fair system to do so,” she said.
Cooper also warned against those using stigmatising language about benefit claimants, just days after Burnham talked about the need to address the perception that Labour gives an “easy ride” to those who want something for nothing.
She said she supported the principle of a benefit cap but had reservations about the effect of a £23,000 limit on people living in London in particular. “What I won’t do though is fall into what I think is a Tory trap of using language that stigmatises those who are not working. I don’t think that is about Labour values,” she said.
Cooper said she was not going to “get into attacking individual candidates” but did not deny that she was referring to Burnham on welfare and Kendall on swallowing Tory ideas.
Kendall, often described as a Blairite candidate, has previously warned that Labour should not to cling to the “fantasy” that Britain has swung to the left. She was also the first to say she supported holding an EU referendum, accept the premise that Labour spent too much under the last government, back successful free schools and pledge to fight defence cuts.
After Cooper’s comments, Burnham also made it clear he supported the idea of a 50p top rate of income tax to help with reduction of the deficit. He also clarified his comments about Miliband’s mansion tax, saying he supported the principle of taxation of assets but had disagreed with how the policy had been presented to voters.
The leadership candidates are intensifying their campaigns this week before official nominations and a series of hustings over the summer.
Over the weekend, Harriet Harman, the acting leader of the Labour party, ruled out the idea of subjecting the winning candidate to a “break clause” allowing the party to get rid of them before the election if they were not gaining traction.
As the postmortem of Labour’s general election defeat continues, Chris Leslie, the shadow chancellor, added his view in the New Statesman that his party too often “created a false impression that we somehow wanted the state to run, control or own multiple markets – rather than champion their repair”.
This article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Sunday 31st May 2015 11.39 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010