LONDON – Yvette Cooper has condemned recent attacks by left-wing activists on fellow Labour MP Luciana Berger as “unacceptable” and “utterly shameful”.
Berger has faced criticism in the party over her opposition to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, with her newly-elected constituency Labour party in Liverpool Wavertree threatening to de-select her
The former shadow home secretary said: “Labour Party members should be united in supporting Luciana not targeting her or trying to intimidate her. Unacceptable always in the Labour party. Utterly shameful against someone who has stood up to fascists, someone who is on maternity leave.”
One of the newly elected members of Berger’s CLP said “She will now have to sit round the table with us the next time she wants to vote for bombing in Syria or to pass a no confidence motion in the leader of the party – she will have to be answerable to us. We would like her to come out publicly like other MPs have done and apologise for not supporting him [Corbyn] in the past.”
In a speech at the Fabian Society summer conference Cooper also said that attacks on Theresa May and the Conservative Party from some activists were “vitriolic abuse” and that “I never ever want our party to dehumanise our opponents.”
Cooper said that some Tory women MPs and candidates faced “unacceptable personal abuse from the left,” and specifically called out those who held “placards with the severed head of Theresa May,” at rallies.
She said: “I feel huge anger at what she is doing to this country. But I never ever want to Labour people mocking up pictures of her head on a stake. I never ever want our party to dehumanise our opponents. That’s what the far right do.”
The MP for Pontefract and Castleford said that Labour had “already lost someone to hatred,” Jo Cox, who was murdered last year, and the party should challenge “aggression and hatred.”
Referencing the attacks on the BBC’s impartiality, Cooper said that it’s time Labour “did the unfashionable thing and started defending the BBC.”
“I am sick to death of the vitriol poured out from all sides towards Laura Kuenssberg. It is her job to ask difficult questions. It is her job to be sceptical about everything we say. Nothing justifies the personal vitriol, or the misogyny. It’s straight out of the Trump playbook,” she said.
Brexit and the single market
Speaking about Brexit, Cooper said that the government should set up a “cross party commission charged with building consensus as well as getting us the best possible deal.”
Following similar calls for a cross party consensus on Brexit from political figures from across the spectrum including William Hague and John Major, she said that: “We can’t sit on the sidelines, too much is at stake.”
Cooper said that Prime Minister Theresa May was “Still pandering to the fantasies of the free market right who hate the employment rights and environmental standards in Europe so much they want to ditch the customs union and single market even as a transitional deal.
“They dream instead of a future made up of free trade deals without safeguards with far away places. A dream that would be a nightmare for our exporters, our importers, our workers and our planet.”
The prominent Labour backbencher said: “People aren’t talking enough about the Customs Union,” and “Theresa May is playing fast and loose with the Northern Ireland peace process,” over the Tory-DUP deal.