Speaking at a Unions Together hustings of the four leadership candidates, Cooper said: “I think Ed was outrageously treated. I think no one should have had to deal with the kinds of attacks – particularly on his dad – that Ed had to endure.”
Cooper was making reference to a story published by the Daily Mail in September 2013, which described Miliband’s academic father, Ralph Miliband, as “the man who hated Britain”. Cooper said the former Labour leader dealt with media attacks with huge dignity and deserved great respect.
“We have to be realistic,” said the shadow home secretary. “There will be press that attack us and criticise us and we need a leader that is strong enough to be able to deal with that.”
The bookies’ favourite for the leadership, Andy Burnham, appeared to back Cooper’s comments. “Why, the question has got to follow, did they attack him in the way that they did?” he asked. “Might it be because he supported the Leveson proposals? Don’t we need, as a party, to get that message out there to the British public to understand what was at play? That’s why he is a man of courage and integrity.”
“When we were in government – I observed it – we courted the media, didn’t we?” said Burnham, who is Labour’s shadow health secretary and the MP for Leigh.
Referencing the boycott of the Sun newspaper in Liverpool because of its reporting of the Hillsborough disaster, Burnham said: “We allowed ourselves to get so close to parts of the rightwing media. So close that we couldn’t hear an entire city crying injustice for all of those years through our time in government.”
Liz Kendall, who is considered to be the most centrist candidate, said that while the media had mounted “vile attacks” on the party, “that’s what they’ll always do”.
Speaking earlier on Tuesday at a Reuters Newsmaker event, Kendall said Labour could not blame the media for its defeat, but only itself since the public did not trust the party with their money.
Making his closing statements at the hustings, Burnham said he wanted to change “the look, the feel, the sound” of the Labour party. He complained that he had seen the party “parachuting those people with those posher accents into the same seats and putting those people straight onto the front bench in parliament”.
He asked: “Is it any wonder that over the years the people’s party has looked more and more remote from the people and isn’t speaking in a way that they understand and relate to?”
The deadline to get on the ballot for the Labour leadership passed this month, with Burnham receiving 68 nominations from fellow MPs, Cooper 59 and Kendall 41. Jeremy Corbyn, a key figure on the left of the party, made it on to the ballot with minutes to spare with 36.
Ballot papers for both the leader and deputy leader votes will be dispatched on 14 August, voting closes on 10 September and the results of both contests will be announced on 12 September at a special conference.
This article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 30th June 2015 15.28 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010