The campaign manager for the Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall has accused Yvette Cooper’s campaign team of implying that the party needs a leader with a child, rather than a non-parent such as Kendall.
Toby Perkins, told the BBC on Tuesday: “I think the idea you say that because one of the candidates is a mother, you they are the one you should back suggests a paucity of intellectual argument, which the Labour party should really have moved beyond.”
He said he was disappointed with a piece written by Helen Goodman, a supporter of Cooper, for the Huffington Post. The article was headlined, “Why as a parent I’m backing Yvette Cooper as Labour’s next leader”.
Goodman, in her initial piece, had stressed the importance of parenthood saying: “Much more more important to me than being an MP and shadow minister is that I am a mum. I have two children and although they are both grown up (supposedly) once a mum always a mum.”
She said she was backing Cooper to be the next Labour leader because “as a working mum she understands the pressures on family life. We need a leader who knows what challenges ordinary people face day to day, and who is committed to helping them”.
Goodman pointed to issues Cooper was highlighting such as childcare, mental healthcare and children, the “sandwich generation”, and child protection online.
Although the Cooper team tweeted out the Goodman piece as a sign of approval, they have stressed that she has always made clear her policy opinions for working mothers, and not that it takes the personal experience of being a working mother to understand these issues.
The piece led another Kendall supporter to say: “Looking forward to the day someone tells a man they are voting for him because he has a kid and the other guy does not. Will be equally sad then too. “
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