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.