Coffee House

Why Yvette Cooper is keeping quiet about what she believes

23 July 2015

9:55 AM

23 July 2015

9:55 AM

What does Yvette Cooper believe? John Humphrys was desperately trying to find this out on the Today programme this morning, and got nowhere. The Labour leadership contender at least showed us that as party chief, she would be steadfast and calm under fire, but she clearly didn’t fancy telling anyone what she stood for any time soon. Neither, it seems, is she particularly keen on talking about what she offers that is dramatically different to her party’s offer in 2015. Humphrys was very keen to find out which way she might move the Labour party, but she wouldn’t bite.

Why won’t Cooper talk about the direction in which she wants to take the Labour party? Well, it’s not unreasonable for a leadership candidate to refuse to say the words ‘I will move Labour right’: Liz Kendall has been clear she would do that but hasn’t used those words either. But Cooper’s refusal to spell out the differences between the party she envisages leading into the 2020 election and the one Ed Miliband led into the 2015 election is striking.

This is how she has conducted her entire leadership campaign. Indeed, at the start of the process, I met up with one of her ardent supporters and asked, mostly to satisfy my own curiosity, what it was that Cooper believed. I could see her appeal: she has tonnes of government experience, she’s authoritative, she knows how to floor an experienced Tory Cabinet Minister when she needs to. But I couldn’t work out what she actually thought. The Cooper supporter paused, and for a minute I thought I was going to get the answer to the question. ‘Well, there is that,’ they said, as though I’d pointed out a mild flaw along the lines of her not having held a certain frontbench brief, or that she hadn’t yet talked about a key policy area.

The reason Cooper’s supporters are so relaxed about her not setting out her philosophy, her personal mission, her beliefs more clearly is that this is the kind of thing that might alienate sections of the party that she needs to win support from if she is to become leader. She may well want to move the party to the right – though very few politicians, unless they are George Osborne in the middle of a left-wing land grab, will ever talk about where they are moving their party – but she knows that a lot of Labour members don’t want this. This may not just be Cooper’s approach but Burnham’s too. Both know they need to convince one electorate before they turn to the other, bigger, ultimately vastly more important one. And that’s why not saying too much about what you believe is a sign of hard-headed pragmatism, not woolliness.

Show comments
  • richardlhartig

    ^^^^^Home incom source by spectator…. <..~~~.. Find Here

  • beelzebub

    She does’t know what she stands for, and she doesn’t even know that she doesn’t know.

  • Bill Thomas

    I though Humphreys gave her a very easy ride -letting her talk over him; he wouldn’t have let Mr Farage off so lightly.

  • BaraccoBarner

    I disagree with Mr. Corybn’s views but I am impressed that comes across as a principled person who gives straight answers. This level of certainty may be unnerving to his opponents but it plays well in the media. He is the distinctive candidate, the others are just cyphers for failed ideas who are using the campaign to position themselves for the battle after the leadership election. This is calculating and craven, hence their lack of honesty is revealed and they are shown to be a curious cabal of non entities seeking power but without knowing why.

    Is Liz Kendall really the best Labour can offer – the robot on Humans has more emotion. Andy Burnham comes across like a Thunderbirds reject and Yvette Cooper looks like a closet Tory. What a shower! Still, great entertainment, couldn’t happen to nicer people!

  • Jeffreyoore

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  • Stereotomy

    It can’t be “hard-headed pragmatism” if it precludes her from being elected

  • Mynydd

    Humphrys was not interested in what Cooper had to say, his aim was to generate a headline that the Labour party was split from top to bottom. Of course this has been what the BBC and Tory press have been pushing all week. Does the media not understand that you can be Left on some policies, Right on others and in the Middle on most. There again why spend time on an article when you can knock something up in a few minutes, before rushing off to the studio.

  • Alan

    Cooper’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Vote for me. I have a vagina.

    • Mr Grumpy

      It’s now official that evil people with penises are plotting to keep her from the job she deserves. I hope you feel suitably ashamed.

  • John M

    Advice to Cooper : John Humpreys’ questions are only to get harder. He hasn’t even used the “Do you think you need to be liked by the public to be Prime Minister” question yet – one which I clearly recalled felling both Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband when posed to them

  • taylor

    I would say that they all got their fingers burned at the last election and are suffering from the “really don’t have a clue ” syndrome.
    That is why Burnham and Kendall are jumping from one thing to another – they are saying what they believe the public want to hear.
    Corbyn is saying exactly what he believes – take it or leave it, what you see is what you get.
    So that leaves Cooper – the one the Tories fear most but still afraid to show her true colours for fear of putting people off. You may only see the true Yvette when she knows she’s losing.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Apparently Ms. Hardman hasn’t been paying attention. Cooper has been very clear in her remarks about Tory policies, her reaction to criticisms of Labour’s spending record, and snark at Kendall that she wants to keep the party direction pretty much as Miliband left it. What does she really believe? She believes she wants to be in power.

    If a moderator bothers to read this, please let Ms. Hardman know that she needs to stop expecting people to do and say what she thinks they ought, and to start paying attention to what they actually say and do.

  • MistyWeaveFishLosh

    We know she is ‘only’ interested in women’s wants.

  • foto2021

    Not saying too much about what you believe in is a sign of being a fake. Cooper, Burnham and that other woman are all fakes.

    Of the four candidates, Jeremy Corbyn is the only one who is sincere, principled and authentic, a conviction politician. But unlectable in a General Election.

    What a terrible choice the Labour Party is faced with.

  • rodger the dodger

    It’s excruciating to watch/listen to the candidates, with the exception of Corbyn, media-coached to within an inch of their lives.

    Even though Corbyn talks a load of old rubbish, at least he answers the question, and says what he thinks. And when I watch him, I think, “that’s what he thinks”. But I’m clueless as to what the others really think.

    That’s why people respond to him.

    • foto2021

      Corbyn is authentic. None of the others are. That’s why he is doing so well.

  • James B

    That’s the trouble no one knows what they believe in; it seems to change from week to week depending on the media headlines: one week they lurch to the left then to the right which tells me they`ll say or promise anything to get elected; Jeremy Corbyn whether you like him or hate him at least sticks by his belief’s & won`t compromise them to garnish votes! Cooper & Burnham just can`t stand the fact an outsider has stolen their limelight & now that cosy little coronation that was planned & going to propel them into the leadership job has been scuppered well done Jeremy

  • HJ777

    As she used to say when in government when any of her policies were challenged:

    “We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do”.

    Can’t argue with that, can you?

    • taylor

      Did she copy that from the Tories or did they copy that from her?

  • kyalami

    She stands for herself and Ed better damn well stand when she enters the room, too.

  • The Commentator

    No, it’s a sign of cowardice and a complete lack of leadership potential. Imagine Margaret Thatcher refusing to tell anyone what she believed in. This is just pathetic.

  • Zed largo

    Pragmatists believe in what works regardless of principle, morality, conscience or value. Their interpretation of ‘works’, is materialistic, profit based and devoid of human value; it is power driven regardless of the cost in human terms. This is why this woman and her two career sidekicks looking to lead the once highly principled and conviction-led LP, must be dumped unceremoniously.

    Corbyn is the only decent and diginfied person with the brains to understand that people are sick of the bankers, global corporations and the elite who have absolutely no moral ethic to which they must adhere. Yes, yes, yes we all know that the media reports that such a position does not resonate with the values of voters who put the Tories back in power but that is all cobblers. And forget the ramblings of Blair, that treacherous pragmatist who is a weeping sore on the rump of the LP. The LP must not elect another grey clone to lead it. Just look at the quality of the this woman Cooper, and that’s enough to tell you that she’s nothing but an establishment stooge.

  • Ooortcloud

    From what she says, she’s feminist.

  • starfish

    In summary

    Corbyn believes in left wing issues and articulates that belief so that lefties love him but the electorate won’t

    Kerndall believes in centre-left wing issues and articulates that belief so that Blairites love her, the lefties don’t but the electorate might

    Burnham believes anything he thinks might get him elected but the electorate have not forgiven him for past events and won’t vote for him

    Cooper says nothing, the lefties hate her, the electorate see her as Mrs Balls and won’t vote for her

    I can see why Corbyn is doing so well

  • Roderick

    It would seem that she believes in Yvette Cooper.

    Anything else can be believed in as an when opportune, before or after breakfast (shades of Alice in Wonderland here…).

  • MajorFrustration

    Was Mrs.Balls smoking dope whilst on the Today programme this morning – she seemed way over the top or it could have been an audition for RADA with that lovely fake Yorkshire accent.

  • DavidL

    Yvette was a loyal Brownite in the NuLabour Government – which is not promising. But even if we give her the benefit of the doubt (for the sake of argument) and assume she’s become a closet realist, the vote on the Finance Bill, and the support for Corbyn suggests that under Ed, the new intake of MPs is skewed significantly to the left. Can Yvette – or anyone else for that matter – lead those new MPs where they don’t want to go?

    • Vera

      She was one of those who shouted ‘wacist’ whenever immigration or overcrowding was mentioned. She deserves contempt.

  • stickywicket

    So to win the Labour Leadership she has to be quiet about what she believes in because she really wants to take the party in a direction they don’t want to go.

    Then she will try and hoodwink the rest of the electorate that Labour is a centre ground party.

    Sometimes these people are far too sophisticated for their own good.

  • Vera

    Her one big flaw – she’s so bloody irritating with her little concerned face while she’s haranguing us, spouting her hypocrisy – an immediate TV switch OFF.

    • Castro Spendlove

      Agreed, she’s almost unbearable to watch and listen to.

      • Frank

        Manna from heaven for all other parties in an election!!

    • Kerr Mudgeon

      Surely we can all agree that she is much less annoying than Andy Burnham?

      • Vera

        No, he’s easy to ignore, she is like grit in the eye, a maddening, itchy rash, impossible to ignore.

        • foto2021

          More like genital herpes – the gift that keeps on giving.

    • HJ777

      She really is very, very, concerned – about how to get elected.

  • MikeF

    Perhaps she doesn’t really believe in anything.

  • jatrius

    IH nails it in the last sentence. She won’t say a thing. How can you express a belief in a managerial dirigisme and make that sexy? Anything she may say will be pored over by the haruspices of the press to see if it differs from hubby’s previously expressed views let alone any of her rival candidates. She’s defined by what/who she isn’t – clearly not as repentant as Liz Kendall, definitely not Bodybags or Jezbollah. This keeps her options and reach as wide as possible.

  • Julian Kavanagh

    I enjoyed the fact that despite coming from Alton in Hampshire, just a few miles from where I live, she appears to have a strong Yorkshire accent.

    • DWWolds

      Actually, she seems to have a number of different accents.

      • Aberrant_Apostrophe

        Does it depend on where her audience are from?

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    One surmises that she won’t know what her deeply-held beliefs are until she gets the latest focus group results.

    • Makroon

      Strange that Hardman finds Cooper so difficult to read given their background similarities.
      What does she want ? Power, (like Burnham and the rest of the Brown-gang).
      What does she believe in ? Ballsonomics, and she isn’t about to “go freelance” for fear of being off-Balls message.
      She also evidently has a high tolerance for stunts and smears, the modus operandi of the Brown-gang. Perfect leadership material Ahem !

      • telemachus

        To win is all
        The premise is that we need to achieve social justice
        But there are many routes to achieve that
        However evey minute that George destroys our country is a minute longer to get back to social justice
        The priority is to achieve power
        And then apply power
        How you get power is less important than getting power
        Yvettes principle of not alienating folks on the way to power is sound
        She has learned from the mistakes of her Charismatic Husband

        • Makroon

          The ‘charismatic one’ tried really hard to ingratiate himself as a regular, human, kind of guy, who likes footy, swinging in a kids play-ground, starting music lessons etc. etc.
          Unfortunately, the ‘great unwashed’ were unable to cleanse their minds of Balls the smear and stunt meister, and really really poor economist.
          So many books in so many august institutions – such utterly appalling judgement.

          • telemachus

            But he was fun
            I loved that man

            • dickhut

              I’m beginning to wonder whether ‘Telemachus’ is an invention of the luminaries of the Labour Party.

    • Trini’s dad

      You right ‘ma. Dis gjal not very exciting. Me knows someone who will beat her hands down in di elekshan.

    • The Masked Marvel

      What more does Cooper need to say? Fairer this, fairer that, anti-budget cuts, and on and on. Nobody with half a brain can have any doubt of what she would do as leader. Humphrys and all the idiot bubble dwellers want a red meat sound bite and nothing else. This is moronic.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Absolutely, Corbyn and Kendall at least get respect for having a clue where they are coming from, rather than refusing to to have any position which someone might want them to change, which is Cooper and Burnham’s game.

  • Hototrot

    She was a great believer in flipping.

    • flipkipper

      Careful now.

  • grammarschoolman

    Everything she believes is balls.