The Shadow Home Secretary's bold stance on the refugee crisis and attacks on Corbynomics make her the left-winger's biggest threatby Serena Kutchinsky / September 4, 2015 / Leave a comment
This summer, like last, Yvette Cooper has spent much of her time on trains. Last year she was enjoying an inter-railing trip with her family across Europe. Now, she’s criss-crossing the country in a bid to give her campaign for the Labour leadership a final boost. While last year she paid homage to one of her favourite films, the Sound of Music, on a themed cycling tour around Salzburg (she reportedly went as far as creating costumes from curtains for the occasion), this year she has played a starring role in an election which has provided us with unexpected political thrills.
After Labour’s shattering election defeat in May, the party has found itself in the grip of what some have described as an “existential crisis”. The presence of the unreconstructed left-winger Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership race might have inspired 168,753 new members and registered supporters to sign up to vote in the contest, but it has exacerbated the divisions between the centrists and the hard-left of the party, with the latter believing only a lurch to the left can save Labour from electoral oblivion. That is not a view shared by Cooper, who sits firmly in the Brownite camp alongside her husband, the former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls. This faction believes in the need to achieve power to put principles into practice, a theme stressed by Gordon Brown during a speech on the leadership in late August. “The best way of realising our high ideals is to show that we have an alternative in government that is credible, that is radical and is electable,” he said.
When I meet Yvette Cooper, the woman who is fighting to become the Labour Party’s first female leader, she is en route to a campaign stop in Colchester. This week has seen her deliver her best performance of the campaign—stealing a jump on her rivals with a speech on the refugee crisis which has received rave reviews. In becoming the first politician to break the apparent taboo of not commenting on the UK’s response to the Europe-wide crisis, Cooper has helped pile pressure on the government, who…