On 16th July, the leadership contest of the Liberal Democrats came to an anticlimactic close. Tim Farron won a decisive 56% percent of the vote, and will now lead his greatly diminished party. As one debate closes however, another continues. Members of the Labour Party, whose numbers have rocketed to 250,000, must still wait another few weeks before receiving their ballots for a contest set to end in mid-September.
The surprise story of the contest is the dramatic rise in support for left-wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn, a man whose opposition to austerity, trident and tuition fees has galvanised those members abandoned during the Blair-Brown years and uninspired during the Miliband era. However, Labour members who support Corbyn are asking the wrong question. They should be searching, not for a candidate who harkens to a glorious age of socialist ideas, but someone who can win a general election.
There is only one candidate who can fight against the power and money of the Conservative Party and win. There is only one candidate who can unite the wings of our Labour Party and achieve power. That candidate is Yvette Cooper.
Yvette Cooper is a working mum born in Inverness in the North of Scotland. She had a comprehensive education and represents the constituency of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford in West Yorkshire. During Gordon Brown's premiership, Cooper served as Minister for Housing and Planning, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Cooper has also shadowed Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May as a senior figure in the Shadow Cabinet.
Cooper’s experience stretches beyond ministerial officialdom, however. Indeed, she has a strong debating record both inside and outside the House of Commons; she has the ability to out-manoeuvre not only David Cameron, but all three of his likely successors; namely Boris Johnson, George Osborne, and Theresa May.
Unlike Jeremy Corbyn, Andy Burnham or Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper actually bridges the gap between the Blairite and Bennite wings of the Labour Party. She defended the trade unions from the government’s latest assault on their rights, condemned Harriet Harman's bizarre acceptance of the government’s Welfare Bill, and has consistently made the palpably obvious point that the global economic crash of 2008 was not caused by the Labour Party. In layman's terms, Labour's spending on nurses, teachers and schools did not cause the collapse of American-owned banks. The subprime mortgage catastrophe was not the result of higher public spending – plans that the Conservative Party voted in favour of.
Andy Burnham may have earned well deserved credit for his commitment to a Hillsborough inquiry, but his reputation is still greatly tarnished by the Mid-Staffordshire scandal. Liz Kendall, meanwhile, is so right-wing that she makes Tony Blair look like a student Marxist. Moreover, if Ed Miliband was slated by the right-wing media for being "red Ed", then imagine coverage of a man who was friends with the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a man who still believes in the merits of a command economy, and who would never be able to gain the support of the fluid 'centre-ground' of British politics. Jeremy Corbyn may be popular amongst party members, and his call to abolish tuition fees will strike a chord with students and liberals across the country, but his scheme would cost ten billion pounds to implement. A wiser move would be to reopen vital Sure Start centres, preserve tax credits, or spend 3% of GDP on science, research and development to ensure a high-tech digital revolution that would boost our economy and society for many years to come; all of which are proposals backed by Yvette Cooper.
Yvette Cooper can be the person to lead Labour with strength and confidence into the 2020 general election. She is the only candidate who combines proud Labour values with a credible message necessary to win over a sceptical British electorate.