Jeremy Corbyn was a “10 out of 10” leader of the Labour Party, says hopeful for the top job Rebecca Long Bailey.
The shadow business secretary, who is one of the favourites to replace Corbyn, suggested he was not at fault but was “savaged” by the media.
Corbyn has been heavily criticised by chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and numerous others for his handling of anti-Semitism in Labour’s ranks.
He also led the party to its worst defeat since 1935 at December 12′s general election, with Boris Johnson winning a towering 80-seat majority.
“I thought Corbyn was one of most honest kind principled politicians I’ve ever met,” said long Bailey, speaking to ITV’s Paul Brand.
When pressed on what score she would give him, she went on: “I’d give him 10 out of 10, because I respect him and I supported him all the way through.
“What we can’t ignore was that Jeremy was savaged from day one by the press.
“We have a role as party to develop the image of our leader and to put them forward in the most positive way, but we also have a duty to rebut criticism and attacks.”
Setting out her stall as the left-wing candidate, she said the party needs a “proud socialist” to succeed Corbyn and said she could be trusted to maintain “our socialist agenda”.
Long Bailey was also asked how her leadership would differ from Corbyn’s.
“I’m not anybody’s continuity candidate,” she said.
She added: “We are very different people. The reasons I supported him were because I liked his approach to policy making.”
Pressed again on how they differ, she said: “We are different in the way we speak, different in tone.”
The Salford MP, who has the backing of deputy leadership favourite Angela Rayner, was also asked about her life outside politics.
She said she had not “done anything crazy” and does not “go to the bars in Westminster regularly”.
She added: “I like watching telly. I spend a lot of time with my family and my favourite hobby is having a Chinese take away and watching box set on a Friday night with my husband.
“My life centres around my little boy... making sure the time I spend time with my family is fun for him, taking him to trampoline parks and things like that.”
Long Bailey faces competition for the top job from shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, as well as backbenchers Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy.
The winner will be announced on April 4 after a three-month contest.