No negative briefing in Labour contest, urges Yvette Cooper aide

Yvette Cooper’s campaign to be the next Labour leader will not get drawn into “unpleasant anonymous briefing and counter-briefing” against other candidates, a member of her team has promised.

Shabana Mahmood, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury and a co-chair of Cooper’s campaign, said negative briefing had no place in Labour’s leadership debate and pledged that all comments from Cooper’s team would be made on the record in future. She urged the other candidates to make the same promise.

On Monday the Daily Telegraph reported the comments of an anonymous source who said Liz Kendall’s leadership campaign was like “Taliban New Labour”.

A source described as being close to Cooper and Andy Burnham’s campaign teams told thenewspaper: “All of those Blairites who hoped they might get their candidate elected have failed. The whole strategy for Liz was a Westminster strategy: she played up to the media, to the rightwing commentators, to the Blairite Taliban MPs, made a few headlines by saying she was relaxed about free schools and committing to defence spending, and just took a chance that the momentum would carry her forward.”

Both Burnham and Cooper deny that the comments came from their camps.

Mahmood wrote in an article for the Huffington Post: “If anyone is speaking on behalf of the campaign, they will do so explicitly on the record. There will be no unattributed negative briefings about other candidates because that’s not the kind of politics Yvette has ever wanted to champion.

“If anyone else is speaking to you and claiming to do so on Yvette’s behalf and wants to criticise opponents, you can take it from me that they do not speak for the campaign or Yvette, and if she or I get to hear about it they will have lost our trust and our respect,” The MP for Birmingham Ladywood added: “I hope that all of the candidates will join me in making that pledge.”

Mahmood is overseeing Cooper’s campaign alongside the shadow defence secretary, Vernon Coaker. Cooper, the shadow home secretary, is the bookies’ third favourite to win, behind Burnham and Kendall and ahead of Jeremy Corbyn.

Mahmood said descending into negative briefing would only hurt the Labour party and was exactly what the Tories wanted them to do. “They would love it if Labour went back to a time when factions tore strips off each other in late-night bars,” she said. “There are some who will say this is just part of politics, it’s just playing the game. Well it isn’t and we mustn’t allow it to be.”

Nominations for the Labour leadership race closed at noon on Monday. A late surge saw Jeremy Corbyn pass the required number of 35 Westminster backers to join Burnham, Cooper and Kendall on the ballot. Burnham, the shadow heath secretary and current frontrunner, received 68 nominations from MPs, mainly from the north of England. Cooper received 59, Kendall 41 and Corbyn 36.

The candidates will now go out to campaign, starting on Wednesday with a one-hour Newsnight special in front of an invited audience in Nuneaton. Ballot papers will be dispatched on 14 August, voting closes on 10 September and the result will be announced on 12 September at a special party conference.

Powered by article was written by Frances Perraudin, for on Tuesday 16th June 2015 19.03 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010