Jeremy Corbyn Campaign Distances Itself From 'Kendall For Tory Leader' Stunts

Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall during a Labour Leadership and Deputy Leadership Hustings at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham.
Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall during a Labour Leadership and Deputy Leadership Hustings at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham.
Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Negative campaigning in the Labour leadership race took a new twist today after a 'Liz Kendall for Tory Leader' stunt came under fire from all sides in the party.

Jeremy Corbyn's campaign moved swiftly to distance itself from new Facebook and Twitter accounts depicting Kendall as a Conservative.

The accounts, which have the strong backing of leftwingers, are thought to be a response to the 'ToriesForCorbyn' campaign launched last month by Conservatives.

But they drew a strong response from the Kendall campaign today, who told The Huffington Post that such attacks could only help the Tory cause.

The spoof Facebook group called "Liz Kendall for Conservative Leader" now has more than 3,000 'likes' and aims to overtake the Labour leadership candidate's official Facebook group, which has slightly more than 4,000.

The Liz Kendall for Conservative Leader Facebook page

The Facebook account gives a detailed analysis of Kendall's interests, declaring: "Liz Kendall is the most impressive potential Conservative candidate for prime minister in the last 30 years.

"This is a page for all of her supporters, and all of those people who also see her future in the Tory party. Please feel free to post all of your views, photographs and comments. #Kendall4Conservative."

The #Kendall4Conservative campaign has also taken to Twitter with a spoof @kendall4tory account.

Kendall's political views are listed as "very Conservative" on the Facebook page, with interests including Adam Smith Institute, Margaret Thatcher, Ayn Rand and Right-wing politics.

Her 'personal interests' are listed to include Neoliberalism, wealth creation, free-market, capitalism and Darwinism.

In one post, Kendall's image was photoshopped onto an image of Margaret Thatcher on the steps of Downing Street.

Several Corbyn supporters have posted their support on the new Facebook page, including Siobhan O'Malley who wrote: "And it seems to me you lived your life/Like Liz Kendall blowing hot wind/Never knowing which Tory policies to cling to /When the debate set in".

Ms O'Malley has written on her own Facebook page: "It is the duty of every left-winger to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership. If you don't you will be handing the Tory-lite Lizard an easy victory. "

She also revealed: "Liz Kendall has blocked me from her page for calling her a "Tory scab". I'm not sure why that upset her as I feel it is 100% accurate. "

But today a spokesman for Mr Corbyn's campaign told The Huffington Post UK that it had nothing to do with them and was not in keeping with the Isington North MP's approach to politics.

"Spoof accounts are the opposite of leadership debate we are all about - it should be positive campaign about the future direction of the Labour Party, not about personality politics."

John Woodcock, who was already furious at a HuffPostUK blog by Yvette Cooper supporter Helen Goodman, added that the latest attacks on Ms Kendall would backfire.

"No Tory leader would pledge Liz's assault on low pay, plan to tackle grossly unequal life chances or promise to reverse all the attacks on rights at work pushed through in this parliament," he said.

"Liz will show Labour can be trusted with the public finances so we regain the trust to govern - suggesting that makes her a Tory just makes it more likely the Tories will win the next election.

"Others may allow Labour to get trapped in perpetual opposition, but we want to win so we can change people's lives."

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.

Members of Kendall's campaign team interpreted it as an implicit criticism of their candidate.