Labour is flirting with oblivion, says shadow minister

Shadow education minister Tristram Hunt has warned that the Labour Party risks becoming irrelevant.

With two months still to go, the Labour leadership contest is becoming "increasingly bitter", writes Ben Glaze in the Daily Mirror. The shadow education minister, Tristram Hunt, this week issued a "doomsday alert" attack on candidate Jeremy Corbyn, warning that the party needs to present itself as a credible alternative government or risk becoming "irrelevant".

Labour has "no God-given right to exist", said Hunt. If it persists in favouring Michael Foot-style "comfort blanket" candidates such as the left-winger Corbyn, who has strong union support, then Labour risks becoming "condemned to oblivion".

It's the latest attack in a contest characterised by infighting. A Huffington Post article by MP Helen Goodman, for example which backed Yvette Cooper because as a "working mum" she would empathise more with working parents was seen as a "dig" at childless Liz Kendall, notes Glaze.

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A spoof Facebook page calling for Kendall who has criticised her rivals' campaigns as "continuity Miliband" to be elected Conservative leader has also increased divisions, says TheDaily Telegraph. But for all the rivalry, the candidates have been preaching mainly to the converted struggling "to escape the constraints of old disputes and narrow differences", complains a Guardian editorial.

Labour must go "beyond its core support" and find a new way of communicating with those "turned off and tuned out from politics altogether". This may be why interim leader Harriet Harman announced in a BBC interview that the party will not challenge the Tory's welfare cap on the maximum amount of benefits one household can claim. All candidates, besides Kendall, disowned the decision, which generated "a howl" of social media outrage.

But while Harman's "meek acceptance" was misjudged, she is right the party has to challenge Osborne's assertion of "Labour as the party of welfare and the Tories as the party of work". Indeed, says The Daily Telegraph. In recent years, Labour's role in politics has been reduced to opposing "every sensible and popular Conservative reform" before admitting their opponents were "right all along".

Piper Terrett is a financial journalist and author. Piper graduated from Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1997 and worked for Germaine Greer and for Adam Faith’s Money Channel before embarking on a career in business journalism. 

She has worked for most top financial titles, including Investors Chronicle, Shares magazine, Yahoo! Finance and MSN Money. She lectures part-time at London Metropolitan University and is the author of four books.