Rebecca Long-Bailey has said she would take Labour in “completely different directions” to Jeremy Corbyn amid criticism that she is the continuity candidate in the leadership race.
The shadow business secretary dismissed claims the outgoing leader and his allies would still run the party if she won, and said it was “disrespectful” to say she is another version of Mr Corbyn.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Ms Long-Bailey, a frontrunner in the contest, said: “Insinuations have been made: ‘Oh these men have been pulling strings in the background’.
“I’ve been proud to stand on the policy platform that we’ve had.
“That’s not to say I’m not a completely different person from Jeremy because I am, and I’ll be taking the party in completely different directions.”
She previously gave Mr Corbyn a score of 10/10 on his leadership, but told the paper Labour had to recognise what it got wrong and “can’t them get them wrong again”.
“I would do things very differently. He didn’t have an easy time,” she added.
Ms Long-Bailey’s comments came after she called for a “democratic revolution” within the country and party as she announced her backing for a change in the way Labour selects its parliamentary candidates.
She said Labour needed to “rip up the rulebook” and “empower” members in its heartlands by introducing open selections.
In a speech to supporters in Hackney, east London, Ms Long-Bailey said the current system of trigger ballots had produced a culture where party members have to negatively campaign against an incumbent MP.
Open selections have been championed by the Corbyn-backing Momentum campaign group and would see each constituency party vote on who should run as a candidate, regardless of whether the sitting MP intended to stand again.
“I’ll be honest, I support open selections,” she said. “And that’s because many MPs and members feel the compromise that we’ve reached so far produces a culture where members have to negatively campaign against a sitting MP.
“It doesn’t offer the opportunity for new candidates who want to come through to emerge without a stigma in being part of that negative campaigning.”
Four candidates remain in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn, after Jess Phillips abandoned her bid as she admitted she would not be able to bring the party together after its “cataclysmic” election defeat.
The outspoken backbencher, who was a prominent critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, acknowledged she would not be able to unite the unions, members and Labour MPs behind her.