If Yvette wants to be leader she needs to tell us what she stands for

by David Talbot

What else is there to do in the long summer months than speculate on the next leader of the Labour party? Last summer, of course, events in Falkirk consumed the body politic. This year, with nowhere near as much excitement to hold the nerve during the month of news-austerity that is August, commentators have turned their eye to much more familiar ground; leadership speculation. As Boris Johnson confirms that he had been fibbing all this time and is positively squeaking with ambition to become the next Conservative leader, so too the next roll-call of Labour leadership hopefuls is being sized up. This is predicated, of course, on a Labour loss next year. But that argument is for another day.

Step forward one D Hodges, formerly of the Uncut parish, and now musing from his perch at the Telegraph. Hodges has written a blog suggesting that Rachel Reeves has utilised her ‘boring snoring’ credentials to propel herself into the position of a credible contender for future leadership of the Labour party. Reeves , we are told, for no one actually noticed at the time, launched the latest salvo in Labour’s “the choice” summer campaign last week. Reeves no doubt has a serious and illustrious career ahead of her in the Labour party and, when she genuinely is not being quite so boring, could one day make leader. But the secondary, and all the more intriguing, observation was the slow demise of Yvette Cooper.

Cooper has long been seen as the one serious contender to take on the might of the Umunna machine. Her abstention during the last Labour leadership contest, with the announcement that it wasn’t “the right time”, was rightly seen as the barely-disguised motions of someone who given the chance would run for leader. The reasons for her prominence are well known, and her CV reads like so many of her current Labour contemporaries; First Class degree in PPE at Oxford, Harvard, Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, Harriet Harman’s office via the Independent and emerging as Labour’s Member of Parliament for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford.

Her rise through the ministerial ranks was systematic and impressive; from underling at the Department of Health to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Given New Labour’s obsession with reshuffles, Cooper was a member of the government in no less than 6 departments holding 8 positions. The depth and breadth of her experience is enviable. As shadow Home Secretary she has at times forensically dissected the arguments and machinations of her government counterpart, Theresa May, who is widely regarded as one of the Conservative’s best performers and strongly tipped for their throne.

But this is, after all, the Minister also responsible for the ridiculed Home Information Packs; an initiative deemed so unnecessary it was suspended with immediate effect in May 2010 and abolished by statue in January 2012. It is, truth be told, difficult to detect her legislative record to date. Her Commons style, tenacious and methodical, the undoubted intellect to dominant departmental briefs, and the unbridled strength of personality are all there – but so too are the robotic, Dalek-like answers which say everything but nothing at all. And, quite frankly, the ambition for the sake of ambition.

It is difficult to countenance what an Yvette Cooper-led Labour party would say and feel. For someone who has risen through the political ranks for the best part of twenty years, and has worn the title of heiress-apparent for so long, that is a damning remark to conclude on. The only real argument in favour of Cooper’s leadership is that there are no solid points to make against it. There is no reason why not, but then again there is no real reason why, either. And if Labour has just lost in 2015 and this speculation becomes all too real, is that really good enough?

David Talbot is a political consultant

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13 Responses to “If Yvette wants to be leader she needs to tell us what she stands for”

  1. Two words says:

    Iraq war

  2. Tafia says:

    Mrs Balls would be a disaster for the Labour Party. She is nearly as obnoxious as her husband and is toxice. She is irritating and is anti-union, anti-working class and anti-poor.

    A committed neo-liberalist she is summed up in one word – pointless.

    (PS – her husband is a knob as well)

  3. Ex Labour says:

    Like her husband she is detestable in every way. Everytime she appears on TV its with some faux moral outrage prompted by the latest Twatter Storm, with a face of robotic angst. Her attempt at disguising her southern accent with a few flat vowels is laughable and she probably dosent even know where her constituency is – much Like Moribund coudln’t find Doncaster with a SatNav.

    Reeves is the least worst option for me. She got caught out recently in parliament, but overall I think better than Cooper as leadership material.

    Chukka ‘Harrison’ Ummuna is smooth but if reports are to be believed rather to ambitious for some. Didnt he refer to his constituents as “trash” according to Guido Fawkes. Probably not the done thing for a politician and would no doubt get raised against him.

    Labour are like the Conservatives in reality, just full of Oxbridge PPE grads who have never had a proper job and no experience of “real life”. But ANYONE would be better than Siliband.

  4. paul barker says:

    Good to see your comments section on its usual form. I dont think you have to worry as Milliband will be the last leader of The Labour Party. Sooner or later the Voters will have to think seriously about the next Government & at that point Labours Poll ratings will collapse & your activists will turn on Milliband & each other. It wont be pretty.

  5. Madasafish says:

    Yvette Cooper has largely made no mark on my consciousness. When I have listened to her speak, I have switched of mentally as she makes a robot appear human.

    She would make an ideal leader for a party of ambitious apparatchiks.

  6. John reid says:

    There’s no position but before the outcry, that Labour will win the next election, I think the Tories will form a government held up by the DUP in situations where they need to, If Ed stays on claiming that he’s increased Labours vote by a couple of percent ,by getting ex Liberals to vote for him, then it’ll be for the party to decide, whether the fact that the next election will be a low turnout ,will be the reason for Labour getting a few more percent next time is another thing,

    Anyway, Balls is toxic, he has power in the party, that only a joint effort of Blue labour up North and Labour first down south, mixed with the remaining westminster Bubble of those who were on the GLA can take on, Cooper would just be balls acceptable answer,

    If labour is too have any chance of winning in 2020 then a mixture of Blue Labours Rod Liddle, Jon Cruddas and John mann, with the London base Of Chuka Ammura, David lammy ,and the Labour first team who have links with Andy Burnham need to get Chuka as leader, and get the likes of Dan Hodges back working with Luke Akehurst and Get Charles Clarke and Peter Mandleson to set up think tanks to actually get us any policies,

    If the Tories win with a coalition or small majority with DUP they’ll introduce the boundary changes and then that 7 percent they need to win in 2020 will dissapear,

    Rob merchant did point out that there could be civil war after the election if we lose, citing Ken Livingstones comments that it was the Blairites fault he lost in 2012, despite Dan Hodges being the only person to actually not support him ,within the party, and the amount of times Livingstone has backed non Labour candidates (all be it he could back the greens in 2000 and 2001) as he wasn’t a member then.

    But the infighting we had after the 83′ defeat (our second in a row) is similar to what might happen if we lose next year ,where at he time Tony Benn almost or in some cases did convince the party we lost as it wasn’t left wing enough, and there’ll be calls for us to continue denying we messed up the economy or that we’ve got to accept that, the union view of buying our way out of the recession and not accepting austerity is off putting for the party,

    If there is a leadership election after the election and Ed Miliband stays on or cooper stand against someone who won’t tolerate the Likes of Len Mcklusky and Harman telling us to continue arguing that we were right in 2010 on over spending and the electorate were wrong not to vote for us, then who ever stands ,in a policy of accepting the cuts will have to fight for their cause for the future of the party, otherwise we could be out of power for 20 years.

  7. Anne says:

    My money is on Andy Burnam, but I do agree Rachel Reeves does present well.

  8. Andrew Watson says:

    Yes, Paul pretty dreadful standard of comments I must agree. However yours is probably the worst of the lot and your incessant predictions of the end of the Labour Party are boring and bizarre. I notice that the date for this supposed doomsday continues to be postponed. If I were a Lib Dem ( I have voted for them and supported them in the past) I would concentrate on my own party’s electoral challenges before continually posting about the problems, or otherwise in another party. Say what you like about the Tories they generally deliver what they set out at election time, like it or not. Many Lib Dems, on the other hand are frankly odd and slippery.

  9. Would be better with Glenda Jackson or Dennis Skinner as Leader. No more Blue Labour shills!

  10. steve says:

    MPs who were complicit in the betrayal of UK armed forces by voting for the Iraq disaster should, at the very least, be barred from high office.

  11. ydoethur says:

    The second to last paragraph helps to explain the negatives, but it misses the most obvious ones of all. Yvette Cooper is a millionaire’s daughter with a private school background. She is rude, arrogant and patronising. I have never quite forgotten the time when, on Channel 4 News, she repeatedly talked across and shouted down Ken Clarke and Vince Cable, who were patiently and politely (Ken Clarke being polite – a rare event that should have been encouraged!) explaining that she was entirely wrong to think this would be a short recession that could be easily dealt with. She had no arguments, no data, no evidence of any kind to support her (admittedly indefensible) position – she just screamed and shouted. The impression left was of somebody with an intellectual vacuity and a slavish adherence to manifestly absurd dogma that bordered on hysteria. Nothing she has said or done since has dispelled that impression.

    In fact, make Yvette Cooper leader and what does the Labour party have to differentiate it from a Conservative party led by Johnson or Osborne? Nothing at all! Hardly a great pitch to win over the working class, or even the middle class, is it?

    Not, it has to be said, that I can see an alternative candidate who would be any better.

  12. paul barker says:

    @Andrew Watson, I should point out that most commenters on Libdem Voice also see me as a slightly annoying nutcase. In my defense if you look at Polling that asks hard questions they suggest levels of Labour support in the mid 20s not the mid 30s. As reported in The Telegraph for example that Only 3 in 5 Labour “Voters” actually trust you on the Economy. Similar figures come up if Your “Voters” are asked if they actually want Milliband as PM.
    As to why the Polls seem so stable, I think Voters are putting off thinking about The Election till they absolutely have to, next March; who knows ?

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