Labour leadership candidate Yvette Cooper has accused frontrunner and rival Jeremy Corbyn of being neither "radical" not "credible".
In her first direct criticism of the left-winger, she said Corbyn simply offered "old solutions to old problems" and had no chance of leading Labour to power in the 2020 general election.
Cooper argued that she was far more radical than the 66-year-old MP for Islington North because she offered policies for the future. "Who's the real radical – Jeremy or me?" she said.
Her speech in Manchester on Thursday came hours after former prime minister Tony Blair warned that the Labour party faced "annihilation" under Corbyn. Leadership candidate Liz Kendall also told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that Corbyn would lead Labour "into the wilderness for a generation".
Cooper hopes her last-ditch intervention will change some voters' minds ahead of ballot papers being sent out on Friday.
She argued that Corbyn's policies – on renationalisation, reopening the coal mines, and quitting NATO – were far from radical. She pointed instead to her promises to extend nursery care, invest in green technology, and fight to stay in the EU.
"And what is more radical?" she added. "A Labour party, after a century of championing equality and diversity, which turns the clock back to be led again by a leader and deputy leader, both white men?
"Or to smash our own glass ceiling to get Labour's first elected woman leader and woman prime minister, too. Who's the real radical? Jeremy or me?"
The shadow home secretary said Corbyn's ideas "won't change the world; they will keep us out of power and stop us changing the world".
She admitted: "Saying this, rather than pretending I agree with the person who is currently the most popular candidate in the race, may lose me votes. But it needs to be said. Our party, the values we stand for, and the country we want to fight for are too important not to be honest about what is at stake."
Over 600,000 people have applied for a vote in the leadership contest – around 400,000 of whom signed up in some form since the May general election. The last-minute rush to sign up on Wednesday is thought to have given a massive boost to Corbyn, who has been urging his supporters to join up through campaigns on Twitter and Facebook.
Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Emily Ashton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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