The Labour leadership election descended into fresh acrimony today, after supporters of Liz Kendall accused Yvette Cooper's allies of politicising the fact Kendall does not have children.
In a blog for The Huffington Post on Monday, shadow media minister Helen Goodman said the fact Cooper was a "working mum" had convinced her to back the shadow home secretary's leadership campaign.
Really? This is what it's come to? https://t.co/kocegaNcpg— Toby Perkins (@tobyperkinsmp) July 6, 2015
The blog irritated members of Kendall's campaign team, who interpreted it as a implicit criticism of their candidate. Cooper has three children with the former shadow chancellor Ed Balls. Kendall does not have children.
A source close the Cooper campaign said: "The blog talks about family finances, childcare, online child protection, crimes committed against women and children. These are all issues Yvette has spent years campaigning on. It doesn't mention other candidates."
But Perkins, Kendall's campaign chief, told the Daily Politics today: "I think the idea that you say because one of the candidates is a mother they are the one you should back suggests a paucity of intellectual argument which the Labour Party really should have moved beyond. I was disappointed by the specific piece."
John Woodcock, another prominent supporter of Kendall used Twitter to criticise Goodman's blog and said Cooper's team should have known how it would be interpreted.
Looking forward to day someone tells a man they are voting for him cos he has a kid and the other guy doesn't. Will be equally sad then too.— John Woodcock (@JWoodcockMP) July 6, 2015
All would be outraged, rightly.
Did Yvette team help draft? They are clever, they'd know how it would be interpreted https://t.co/T7hIb4XiNs— John Woodcock (@JWoodcockMP) July 7, 2015
In the blog, Goodman wrote: "Much 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. I remember the difficulty of having to work and arrange childcare. Getting them up and ready for school, nagging them about their homework, which strangely seems to get harder as they get older, then battling to get them to bed at a sensible time - a task.
"That's why I'm backing Yvette Cooper to be the next Leader of the Labour Party. As a working mum, she understands the pressures on modern family life. We need a Leader who knows what challenges ordinary people face day to day, and who is committed to helping them."
In a piece headlined 'Why, as a Parent, I'm Backing Yvette Cooper as Labour's Next Leader', Goodman gave her personal opinion about why she has decided to back Cooper.
In the blog, Goodman highlighted six areas which she said Cooper would be best placed to tackle. As shadow home secretary, Goodman said Cooper had been a "tireless champion for women and children".
"She has spoken out about the shameful fall in convictions for sexual assault and the use of community sentences for domestic abuse. She has challenged Theresa May about police cuts, and worked with women's charities to raise awareness," Goodman said.
"Solving one of these issues might seem difficult, and tackling all six might seem impossible. But I believe it is the duty of the Labour Party to take up that challenge and address them head on. We need a Leader who will champion families. And I know who I believe will do that."
Yet Goodman could be critcised for having a short memory.
Back in 2013, Goodman lambasted the then Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, for comments she made about understanding the need for internet porn controls just because she was a mother.
Goodman said: "The job of Secretary of State is to stand up to the industry, not to start talking about her personality and family situation."
It is not the first time the children of politicians have been pushed into the limelight. In 2013 Conservative MP Tim Loughton had to apologise after he suggested Lib Dem Sarah Teather was a poor children's minister because she did not have any of her own. didn't produce one of her own. "The person who was actually in charge of family policy amongst the ministerial team at the DfE was Sarah Teather. Which was a bit difficult because she doesn't really believe in family. She certainly didn't produce one of her own. So it became a bit of a family-free zone. I think that is a huge disappointment," he had said.
Cooper and Kendall are battling Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn to succeed Ed Miliband as Labour leader. The winner will be announced on September 12.
Yet judging by Kendall's social media accounts, the politician looks nearly as likely to become Conservative leader as she is Labour chief.
A spoof Facebook group called "Liz Kendall for Conservative Leader" now has more than 3,000 'likes', while the Labour leadership candidate's official Facebook group has slightly more than 4,000.
The #Kendall4Conservative" campaign has also taken to Twitter, with followers to the cause on the rise.Suggest a correction