A MAYORAL candidate has written an open letter to her opponent urging him to sign a pledge to be "truthful", "respectful" and "dignified" after accusing him of smearing her reputation.

Jessie Joe Jacobs, the Labour candidate to be the next Tees Valley Mayor, accused incumbent mayor Ben Houchen of "smears and negativity".

She issued the letter after Mr Houchen was reported to have called her a "remaniac" and a "Corbynista candidate who has no real world experience" in an article published by the right wing political blog Guido Fawkes.

A spokesman for Mr Houchen said he would not be commenting on the letter.

The Northern Echo: Ben Houchen at the launch of his campaign for re-election as the Tees Valley Mayor Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTBen Houchen at the launch of his campaign for re-election as the Tees Valley Mayor Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Ms Jacobs said: "It's a smear that I'm a Corbynista and its spin that I have no real world experience. "How can anyone say I have no real world experience? Ben Houchen is a sponsor of the charity I set up when I was 24

"It's just not true. "The negativity was about being a remainiac." She added: "People are sick of politicians fighting with each other. We have both got ideas about how we are going to transform Teesside.

"He has ideas, so do I. Let's have a debate about that. Lets not use negativity."

In her letter to Mr Houchen, Ms Jacobs said: "Politics is not in a good place. We saw through the last national and local elections, the European elections and the referendum, there is a growing nastiness that has entered into the public debate.

"In Westminster, on social media, in communities and on the street, people of differing political ideas, tearing into each other, tearing each other down, refusing to find consensus or common ground.

"My biggest concern in running for mayor was never about debating opposing ideas, winning support or going head to head with an incumbent. It wasn't about the punishingly hard work that running a political campaign can be...my biggest concern was the dirty side of the politics, the smears, spin and negativity that seem to have become the norm in political campaigning."

She asked Mr Houchen to sign a five-point pledge, including to pursue a truthful and dignified political debate, maintaining a respectful tone, avoiding condescending or dehumanising language, refraining from making or supporting false or misleading campaigns and taking action of campaign teams do not follow those guidelines.

She added: "Let's take politics out of the gutter and do something differently. "It's time for a new type of politics, that has our people at its heart."

She added that she had previously had her Twitter account hacked and it had been used to make "nasty" comments that did not reflect her views but said she did not know who was behind it.