The Labour party and movement have always been bigger than one person

Why I am backing Yvette Cooper to be the next leader of the Labour party


Throughout our history the party has represented millions of people, all united through a common cause to support the best interests of every person in our country; fighting inequality, helping the vulnerable, supporting the hard-working, inspiring future generations and standing up for our hard-earned rights.

During my years in the party I have spoken to people from all backgrounds, from all parts of the country, who each came with their own experiences, opinions and beliefs, but were all totally committed to the fact that what brings us together is much greater than what divides us.

This has never needed to be re-emphasised and re-energised as much as it does today, at a time of great soul searching for the party.

It is with this firmly in mind that I am backing Yvette Cooper as the next Labour leader and the next Labour prime minister.

I have known Yvette for many years and have continually been amazed by the work she has done. She is level-headed, yet incredibly passionate about the things she believes in and as an MP she has been a dedicated and dogged campaigner who has fought injustice, but has also been willing to listen to the views of others and work with everybody in order to make progress.

Yvette has experience running a £100 billion department. She helped roll out Sure Start and brought in the Future Jobs Fund – jobs for young people unable to find work.

As shadow home secretary she has shown her ability to lead, to handle pressure and to push the government every step of the way, and I believe she is more than a match for David Cameron and any future Tory leader.

The fallout from the 2015 General Election has presented unique challenges to our party and, whoever takes over, the size of the job on offer to the potential candidates cannot be overstated. This will take incredible leadership, it will need deep and varied experience and it will require intelligence and understanding to bring the party forward.

We know the Conservatives are planning deeper and harsher cuts and a series of damaging policies that are going to make the lives of ordinary people that much harder, and this will be far worse for the most vulnerable in our society.

Labour must stand as a champion for everyone, and provide the staunch opposition they deserve. Yvette has proven over the years that she is more than capable of holding the government to account, as anyone who has ever seen her take apart Theresa May over recent years can testify, and she has never shied away from tackling the big issues.

I was incredibly proud to see all she has done to fight against domestic violence in Parliament, and we need that zeal and that firm dedication to never accept second best in all areas of our policy.

Of course, the job of Labour leader is to do more than just oppose the government. We also need new ideas and new hope for the future but Yvette has rightly been very clear that defeat doesn’t mean a total rejection of our Labour values.  Knee-jerk reactions to pull us in a totally different direction are as counter-productive as they are misguided. Our manifesto contained much to be proud of, and indeed much that millions voted for, but our approach was too narrow and didn’t appeal to people all across the country.

This doesn’t mean we water down our values – it means we must listen to wider concerns and make sure we present a better and stronger case that every single person in our country can relate to and can vote for.

I know Yvette has the ability to reach parts of the country that we have been slowly drifting away from over the last few years, and as a warm and approachable person who is incredibly down-to-earth, there will be nobody who cannot relate to her.

As the first leadership candidate to visit Scotland in her campaign, she has also shown clearly that she is not going to shy away from the biggest challenges we face and has underlined her commitment to work across all parts of our country to listen to people and make sure they are represented in our policies.

Equally, she has championed issues that every community care about. From her strong backing of our UK businesses as engines for growth, to standing up for the rights of our workers.  From getting wages up for families who have been hit hard in recent years, to placing a sorely needed emphasis on quality childcare – introducing genuinely radical new ideas that will transform the system we have today to something that really can give every child in the country the best possible start in life.

We have five years to listen, learn and build, and I don’t think there is anyone who can match Yvette in doing just that.  I am genuinely excited to think of what we will be able to offer in 2020 with her at the helm.

Also, as a woman, she knows first-hand the many distinct challenges women face every single day of their lives, and I would love nothing more than to see the Labour Party have that final glass ceiling broken in our politics, with our first elected female leader. It is time for this to happen, and in Yvette we have never had a better candidate for the top job.

Since May 8th many people have talked about which direction the party needs to go in, be it to the left or to the right. For me, the only direction we need to go in is forwards, and there is not a doubt in my mind that Yvette Cooper can do just that.

I am well aware that the next five years will be tough, and that it is likely to be a bumpy road ahead, but I am positive about our future, and our ability to put an end to Tory rule in 2020.

As a party we have the very proudest record of achievement, and a history that inspires me every single day. I want a leader who understands our history, knows where we are now and has the vision to lead us into the future.

For me that is Yvette, and I know that given the job she will convince our party and our country that there is a better way, and that Labour can deliver it.

Sharon Hodgson is Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West. Follow her on Twitter

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17 Responses to “The Labour party and movement have always been bigger than one person”

  1. stevep

    Water down our values? Toadying to the wealthy elite for the past 20 years whilst watching standards of living for everyone else fall seem to define (New) Labour values. There`s been a deluge on our values.
    New Labour achieved little in 13 years that hasn`t already or will be undone by the Tories. So what was the point?
    To make Labour more electable? The Tories were in such disarray pre-1997, a Natterjack Toad standing on one leg could have won it for Labour and spared us Tony Blair.
    The New Labour project was the greatest waste of a party majority in political history.
    They should have had a bonfire of privatisation and re-nationalised the utilities and transport for starters. Re-evaluated our role in Europe, scrapped council tax and re-introduced rates so the wealthy once again paid a little more towards their fair share. I could go on and on.
    At this moment in time Labour need to offer a radical reforming manifesto that addresses and empowers the vast majority of British people, not the few. The candidate best suited to delivering this manifesto and besting Cameron & co. should be chosen as leader. If that is Yvette Cooper, then so be it.

  2. Keith M

    Yvette Cooper was associated with privatisations and the tory lite policies of Bliar – why should we trust her?

  3. blarg1987

    Labour needs to go back to its core principles, standing for the working person, encouraging mobility and aspiration. And ensuring business does not control government.

  4. swat

    Exactly the reasons I’m going for Andy Burnham/Jeremy Corbyn as L and Caroline Flint DL.

  5. Meith K

    I agree New Labour could have done more (or in the case of Iraq, much,
    much less), but I’m sick of some on the left talking as if there is no
    difference between New Labour and the Tories, or that New Labour were just “Tory Lite”. Don’t you realise statements like this are what puts people off voting? – Especially the young, exactly the people we need to be encouraging.

    New Labour still did a lot
    of good, domestically, from class sizes to the minimum wage, to sure
    start, big investments in the NHS, tax credits, the list goes on and on.

    Maybe your just a Tory troll, or maybe there are just too many people on the “left” who don’t actually care that young people’s life chances are being destroyed. They have their nice fat pensions and can carp from the sidelines about how much better things would be if only Michael Foot was leader again or if everyone voted for Jeremy Corbyn, or maybe play the long game and in 50 years the Green Party or Left Unity will gain a majority.

    Tories are ripping up the (many) achievements of the New Labour years and will be vulnerable in 5 years
    time as the middle classes feel the pinch. Like it or not, if Labour are
    to win in 2020 then they need a candidate that will inspire people who
    voted Tory in “middle-England” in 2015. Until we change the voting system, parties will have to reach out to a “big tent” of supporters. It’s simple arithmetic.

  6. stevep


  7. stevep

    She doesn`t decide policy, the Labour Party does. We may like it or not, but an acceptable and effective leader cuts a lot of ice with the electorate.
    She would also tear lumps out of Cameron and wipe that “cats-got-the-cream” smirk off his face. Big time.

  8. Ian

    Funny, this. Every time I visit sites like this, the comments under the main article all – or almost all – say Labour needs to return to what it was before Blair ruined it (which he did). This is so obvious to pretty much anyone, as evidenced by Jeremy Corbyn’s success (which is striking fear into the would-be opinion formers’ hearts).

    So why is it that all these Labour MPs seem to hear the British public telling thm to move even further to the right?

    Is it just me that thinks they’re full of shit and have no business being in the Labour party, much less in the privileged position of being Labour MPs?

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  10. Jacko

    When you say ‘wealthy elite’ can you specify who you mean by that? The average salary is £26K. When do you consider a person to be part of the wealthy elite? £36K? £50k, £100K? £1M?

  11. stevep

    The average salary is skewed, it takes into account large earners which boost the apparent average.
    A more accurate average for the various earning groups is available from the ONS.
    When I say the “wealthy elite” I mean the 1% or so worldwide that own half the wealth ( Oxfam statistics). On the other hand approx. 80% own 5% of global wealth. It gets worse when numbers are crunched and it is revealed that the 85 richest people have more wealth than the 3.5 billion poorest.
    You can probably find other surveys and statistics on the web, but it is as good a snapshot as you`ll get. It is also as good an indictment of Capitalism as you`ll get.

  12. Patrick Nelson

    Yvette Cooper has been moving in the right direction and would probably do better with the press than Andy Burnham, but Andy Burnham goes down very well with a lot of northern voters and Labour is in grave danger from UKIP in the north at the moment.

  13. Patrick Nelson

    Yes the mean is the important number.

  14. Jacko

    From the ONS website:

    “The ONS uses median,
    rather than mean, earnings because the median is not affected by extreme
    values, such as changes in the earnings of small numbers of very high earners. In April 2014
    median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees were £518.”

    518 x 52 = £26,936 gross

    I am correct.

  15. stevep

    Bully for you! I am sure millions of workers in the UK will thank you for telling them they are earning 26k a year, according to national average statistics. Unfortunately, they’re stuck at tescbury`s or waitco`s working a 13 hour week or on a zero hour contract in a fish finger factory, desperately trying to make ends meet, even with benefits.

  16. Jacko

    I’m just illustrating to you that your conception of a polarized rich vs poor societal struggle is just not borne out by the statistics.

    Most people are neither rich nor poor.

    The problem with re-aligining the Labour party to the Left and talking about ‘the poor’ all the time is that you are aligning the party to the interest of a minority group. That’s a very low probability election strategy. That’s why Labour lost the last election. Unless you appeal to people at least one standard deviation above the mean of £26k then you don’t have a hope of being elected.

  17. stevep

    Someone once said there are three types of liars: Liars, Damned liars and statisticians.
    Try telling a family living in a Bangladeshi shanty town hovel near an open rubbish tip they`re neither rich nor poor. Try telling a homeless person near the Bentley dealership in Mayfair that wealth isn`t polarised.
    There are billions of poor people in the world. Poor beyond our comprehension. We sit by our computers and luxuriate in offering opinions about who the next leader of the Labour party should be whilst half the globe are starving and disease-ridden.
    We need to get a grip of ourselves and realise we`re living in paradise compared to most of the poor souls. We also need to understand how it came to be that way.
    The prevailing political and economic system of the world, Capitalism, doesn`t work for most of us. It`s not designed to.
    Communism was meant to work for the people but didn`t in the end due to corruption.
    Socialism could work, but would require a paradigm shift in world consciousness to enable people to get out of the greed mentality and share resources.
    Social democracy mixed with Capitalism with a small “c” worked reasonably well 1945-1979 and I personally think we should be looking at it again with new eyes, post-banking crisis.

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