Watch: Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall clash in Labour leadership hustings over who comes first - the party or the country

Pair were appearing in the first live TV showdown between the four contenders

Matt Dathan
Thursday 18 June 2015 14:06
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Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham
Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham

Labour leadership rivals Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall clashed over whether the party should have rules to boot out the new leader if they looked like they would fail to win the 2020 election.

Mr Burnham dodged the question - insisting rules already existed for Labour MPs to replace the leader - but finally said: "The party comes first - always", prompting Ms Kendall to interject and say: "Well, the country comes first."

Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair's former spin doctor, vowed to oust the new leader if they failed to make an impact within three years and the idea of keeping the new leader on a type of probation has been backed by senior figures in the party, including shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt. It is a move supported by Ms Kendall too.

Yvette Cooper side-stepped the question over whether she would be happy to be replaced if she fell short, saying: “I’m putting myself forward because it is a tough job and I think it would be a good thing to shake up the old boys’ club in Westminster.”

She attacked Ms Kendall's lack of experience while saying it would be "fantastic" for Labour to elect its first female leader. Ms Kendall shot back, pitching herself as the candidate the Tories most feared, insisting she did not carry the "baggage of the past," adding: “We have to move on from the politics of the comfort zone.”

Labour leadership timetable:

15 June: Nominations close

12 August: Last date people can sign up as Labour party members and get a vote in the leadership election

14 August: Ballot papers sent out by post

10 September: Polling closes at midday

12 September: Winners announced at a special conference

27 September: Labour party conference begins in Brighton

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