Yvette Cooper (born 20 March 1969) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford since 2010, having been the MP for Pontefract and Castleford since 1997. She is married to former MP and former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls.
She served in the Cabinet between 2008 and 2010 under Prime Minister Gordon Brown as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and then as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. In 2010 Cooper was appointed Shadow Foreign Secretary.
On 13 May 2015, Cooper announced she would run to be Leader of the Labour Party in the leadership election following the resignation of Ed Miliband. Cooper came third (out of four) to Jeremy Corbyn in the election, gaining 17% of the vote in the first round, compared to 59.5% for Corbyn. Following the election defeat, Cooper resigned from her position as Shadow Home Secretary in September 2015, a post that she had held since 2011.
Early life and education
Cooper was born on 20 March 1969 in Inverness, Scotland. Her father is Tony Cooper, former General Secretary of the Prospect trade union, a former Non-Executive Director of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and a former Chairman of the British Nuclear Industry Forum. He was also a government adviser on the Energy Advisory Panel. Her mother was a maths teacher.
She was educated at Eggar's School, a comprehensive school in Holybourne, and Alton College, both in Alton, Hampshire. She read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Balliol College, Oxford, and graduated with a first-class honours degree. It was there that she became friends with her future colleague, James Purnell. She won a Kennedy Scholarship in 1991 to study at Harvard University, and she completed her postgraduate studies with an MSc in Economics at the London School of Economics.
Cooper began her career as an economic policy researcher for Shadow Chancellor John Smith in 1990, before spending time working in Arkansas for Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Clinton in 1992. Later that year, she became a policy advisor to Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Harriet Harman. At age 24, Cooper developed chronic fatigue syndrome, which took a year to recover from. In 1994 moved to become a research associate at the Centre for Economic Performance. In 1995, she became the chief economic correspondent of The Independent, remaining with the newspaper until her election to the House of Commons in 1997.
Member of Parliament
Cooper was selected to contest the safe Labour seat of Pontefract and Castleford at the 1997 general election, after Deputy Speaker Geoff Lofthouse announced his retirement. She held the seat with a majority of 25,725, and made her maiden speech on 2 July 1997, speaking about her constituency's struggle with unemployment. She served for two years on the Education and Employment Select Committee.
In 1999, she was promoted as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health, and in 2003 moved to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. After the 2005 general election, she was promoted within the same department to become a Minister of State.
Cooper was promoted to become Minister for Housing in 2007, after Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. Cooper was not formally a member of the Cabinet, but did attend Cabinet meetings. Shortly after taking the job, she was required to introduce the HIPS scheme. According to Conservative columnist Matthew Parris, Cooper conceived HIPS but avoided direct criticism for its problems because of her connection with Brown.
The Labour government under Brown had identified affordable housing as one of its core objectives. In July 2007, Cooper announced in the House that "unless we act now, by 2026 first-time buyers will find average house prices are ten times their salary. That could lead to real social inequality and injustice. Every part of the country needs more affordable homes — in the North and the South, in urban and rural communities".
In the reshuffle following Peter Hain's resignation on 24 January 2008, Cooper became the first woman ever to serve as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. As her husband, Ed Balls, was already a Cabinet Minister, her promotion meant that the two became the first married couple ever to sit in the Cabinet together. In 2009, Cooper was appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
After Labour left government in May 2010, Cooper and her husband Ed Balls were both mentioned in the press as a potential leadership candidates when Gordon Brown resigned as Leader of the Labour Party.
Before Balls announced his candidacy, he offered to stand aside if Cooper wanted to stand, but Cooper declined for the sake of their children, stating that it would not be the right time for her. She later topped the 2010 ballot for places in the Shadow Cabinet, and there was speculation that the newly elected Labour Leader Ed Miliband would appoint her Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. She would instead be appointed Shadow Foreign Secretary.
When Alan Johnson resigned as Shadow Chancellor on 20 January 2011, Cooper was appointed Shadow Home Secretary. Her husband, Ed Balls, who had previously served in that role, replaced Johnson as Shadow Chancellor.
Shadow Home Secretary
|This section requires expansion. (June 2015)|
|“||And remember David Cameron's pre-election pledge that child tax credit is “not going to fall." It was a lie. This is a shameful betrayal of parents working hard to support their kids and get on in life. In the 21st century working parents shouldn't have to go to food banks to put a hot meal on the table, as too many families now do.||”|
Allegations over allowances
In May 2009, it was revealed that together with her husband Ed Balls they changed the designation of their second home three times in a 24-month period. Following a referral to the parliamentary sleaze watchdog, they were exonerated by John Lyon, the Standards Commissioner. He said that they had paid capital gains tax on their homes and were not motivated by profit. Cooper and Balls bought a four-bedroom house in Stoke Newington, north London, and registered this as their second home (rather than their home in Castleford, West Yorkshire); this qualified them for up to £44,000 a year to subsidise a reported £438,000 mortgage under the Commons Additional Costs Allowance, of which they claimed £24,400. An investigation in MPs' expenses by Sir Thomas Legg found that Cooper and her husband had both received overpayments of £1,363 in relation to their mortgage. He ordered them to repay the money.
After Caroline Criado-Perez and several other prominent women received a large number of criminal threats (including rape threats) on the Twitter social networking service, Cooper wrote in July 2013 to Tony Wang, the general manager of Twitter UK:
|“||Despite the scale and seriousness of these threats, the official response from Twitter continues to be extremely weak – simply directing Caroline away from Twitter towards the police, and, belatedly, directing users to abuse-reporting forms on Twitter. Of course it is right to report such abuse to the police, and it is very important that they investigate and pursue this case. But social media platforms also have a responsibility for the platform they give users. And in particular they have a responsibility not to tolerate this kind of abuse, rape threats and potentially criminal behaviour. (...) The response by Twitter has clearly been inadequate and fails not only Caroline but many more women and girls who have faced similar abuse on your social network. (...) I urge you to go further and ensure that Twitter carries out a full review of all its policies on abusive behaviour, threats and crimes, including more help for Twitter users who experience abuse, a clear complaints process and clear action from Twitter to tackle this kind of persecution.||”|
2015 Labour leadership election
In 2015, she was nominated by MPs as one of the four candidates for leadership of the party following its defeat in the 2015 general election and the resignation of Ed Miliband as party leader. Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown publicly endorsed Cooper as his first choice for leader, with Andy Burnham in second place and Liz Kendall in third. Cooper came third (out of four) to Jeremy Corbyn in the election, gaining 17% of the vote in the first round, compared to 59% for Corbyn.
Cooper backed reintroducing the 50p income tax rate and would aim to create more high skilled manufacturing jobs. She would introduce a living wage for social care workers and attempt to build 300,000 houses every year. Cooper does not agree that Labour spent too much while in government.
Cooper married Ed Balls on 10 January 1998 in Eastbourne. Her husband was the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and a candidate in the 2010 Labour leadership election. They have two daughters and one son. Cooper and Balls were the first married couple to serve together in the British cabinet. In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.
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- Once again, the biggest losers from George Osborne's budget are women
- Prince, Rosa (15 May 2009). "Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper 'flipped' homes three times: MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
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- Cited by Matthew Taylor and Ben Quinn "Man held after banknote campaigner receives rape threats on Twitter", The Guardian, 28 July 2013.
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- "Health minister celebrates birth". The Daily Telegraph. London. 27 August 2001. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Yvette Cooper.|
- Yvette for Labour official site
- Yvette Cooper official site
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Articles authored at Journalisted
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament
for Pontefract and Castleford
|New constituency||Member of Parliament
for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford
|Minister of State for Housing and Planning
|Chief Secretary to the Treasury
|Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Iain Duncan Smith
|Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
|Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities
Gloria De Piero
|Shadow Foreign Secretary
|Shadow Home Secretary