UK Politics

Yvette Cooper in 'Tory manifesto' warning

Yvette Cooper Image copyright BBC News

Labour leadership contender Yvette Cooper has accused some in the party of "swallowing the Tory manifesto" following its election defeat.

Asked if she was referring to rival Liz Kendall, the shadow home secretary said she did not want to attack individuals.

She also warned against "stigmatising" those on benefits after a third leadership candidate, Andy Burnham, said the party appeared "soft" on them.

Mr Burnham has become the first to pass the nominations threshold of 35.

Meanwhile, Mr Burnham has warned that the party faces becoming "irrelevant".

The shadow health secretary told BBC Radio 5 live's Pienaar's Politics the party cannot assume the general election was its lowest point, saying it could becoming increasingly irrelevant if it doesn't respond to people's concerns.

"Labour has lost its emotional connection with many people," he said.

"People look at us and they don't see people they can relate to."

'Labour vision'

Mr Burnham claimed the party had been run by a "metropolitan elite" for "too long".

He also warned against pursuing the "politics of envy", citing the way the party had presented the mansion tax during the election campaign as being problematic, but he backed the 50p top tax rate policy.

He and Ms Kendall are seen as the current frontrunners in the race to succeed Ed Miliband as Labour leader. Shadow International Development Secretary Mary Creagh has also thrown her hat into the ring.

Candidates must get the support of 35 of the party's MPs in order to stand in the contest, which will be decided in September.

On Sunday, Mr Burnham became the first to secure the public support of 35 MPs and put himself into the ballot, although Ms Cooper has the support of 31 MPs so far and is expecting to reach the threshold soon.

A spokesman for Ms Kendall told the BBC "we have the numbers", but some of her backers are yet to approve the publication of their names. She has 21 public backers so far, including shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Liz Kendall is seen as the Blairite leadership candidate

Ms Kendall, who is seen as the right wing, Blairite contender in the leadership race, has spoken of the need to appeal to Conservative voters in the south of England to win back power.

Ms Cooper warned against a move to the right, telling BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "I will set out ideas for the future that don't just involve swallowing the Tory manifesto and set out a Labour vision for the future.

"I think some of our colleagues, in some of the discussions, have been thinking 'OK, because we lost the election therefore what we have to do is go to the right.'"

'Truth and reconciliation'

The shadow home secretary also appeared to take aim at Mr Burnham, who said last week that Labour had appeared to be "soft" on people "who want something for nothing".

"What I won't do is fall in to what I think is a Tory trap of using language which stigmatises those who are not working. I don't think that is about Labour values," Ms Cooper told the programme.

"I think the important thing is to talk about responsibility - responsibility to work, responsibility to contribute - but not to stigmatise those who are unable to work, perhaps because they are too sick or too disabled to do so."

Ms Cooper said that while in principle she supported Conservative proposals to cut the benefit cap to £23,000 a year, she said there were problems in practice, particularly in London where rents were high.

She also said that she still supported Labour plans to restore the 50p top rate of tax after it was cut by the coalition in the last parliament to 45p - something also backed by Mr Burnham.

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman has said the party needs to go through a process like a "truth and reconciliation" commission to learn lessons from its election defeat.

She said it would be wrong to try to maintain a "veneer of tranquillity and unity" during the leadership contest and that people should instead be encouraged to "speak their minds" and listen to some "uncomfortable truths".

Ed Miliband's leadership should also come under the microscope because "we lost badly and in a way we didn't expect," she told Sky News' Murnaghan,

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