POLITICS

Labour's Andy Burnham And Yvette Cooper Clash Over Who Can Beat Jeremy Corbyn

18/08/2015 03:33 BST | Updated 17/08/2016 10:59 BST

Jeremy Corbyn's main rivals for the Labour leadership exchanged nasty barbs on Monday over who is best-placed to halt the veteran left-winger's charge to the top job. The competing camps of Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper traded demands for each to clear the way for the other amid claims of sexism and desperation.

A spokeswoman for the Cooper camp urged Burnham to "step back" in her favour, arguing the shadow home secretary stood the best chance of securing sufficient second preferences to win. "If he isn't prepared to offer an alternative to Jeremy, he needs to step back and leave it to Yvette," she said. "And he should do the right thing by the party and tell people who do still support him to put second preferences for Yvette - something he is still refusing to do."

Burnham's campaign chief hit back with a suggestion the shadow home secretary was refusing to give way "out of pride" despite facing a "hopeless" situation. "It's time now to rally behind the only person in this contest who can beat Jeremy Corbyn and that is very clearly Andy Burnham," Michael Dugher told The Guardian.

The two sides have adopted different approaches to the campaign. Burnham reached out to Corbyn supporters by stressing the "good deal of common ground" between them; Cooper has declared herself unwilling to work alongside the Islington North MP if he wins and has launched a series of attacks on his policy platform.

Her supporters gave a furious response to reports that someone in the Burnham camp had accused her of a "panicked, desperate stunt straight out of the Ed Balls playbook" - a reference to her husband and former cabinet colleague, who lost his Commons seat in May.

Feltham and Heston MP Seema Malhotra said: "Andy needs to stop his team resorting to sexist jibes. It doesn't help his campaign or the Labour Party."

Lord Kinnock told BBC2's Newsnight: "I can see why people are angry and want to protest. But then they have got to make a decision whether they want to be part of a Labour movement which produced a political party to seriously contest democratic power or they want to be in perpetual demonstration, which is fulfilling and noble but ultimately rarely effective."

On Monday, former Labour MP David Miliband received a cool response after declaring his support for Liz Kendall in the leadership race.

Earlier, Corbyn denied having any current contact with a self-confessed Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, telling Channel 4 News that he had never made a substantial donation to either Eisen or his Deir Yassin Remembered charity.

The leadership frontrunner was last week accused by the Jewish Chronicle of associating with “Holocaust deniers, terrorists and some outright anti-Semites” in an editorial that expressed "deep foreboding at the prospect of Mr Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.”

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