It was Yvette Cooper’s turn to do a Q&A session on the World at One today and it was a pretty dry affair, unlike Corbyn or Burnham. There was nothing new about her policies or stances but Cooper did note that she fears a split of Corbyn wins — ‘the party does seem to be polarising between the different extremes’ — but Labour HQ has assured her that all the necessary checks over entryism are being done:
‘Obviously I hope there have and the Labour party has assured us that they are doing proper and robust checks — you’ve got to have that. We want people to be part of the election and we want people to be joining to be part of the election.
‘Obviously we don’t want people who have been campaigning against the Labour party and who don’t share the values of the Labour party to be part of that election…I know that they are doing a lot of checks but obviously, that’s the responsibility of the party, not the individual campaigns.’
But if she doesn’t win, Cooper said she won’t be challenging the result:
‘I see no evidence to mount a legal challenge and that’s certainly not what I’m looking at. What I’m trying to do is win the election and win as many votes as possible to persuade people of the arguments.’
The prospect of her husband Ed Balls returning to frontline politics was raised by one caller, who insisted the question wasn’t sexist. Cooper noted that such comparisons weren’t made during the 2010 leadership contest but distanced herself from her husband’s legacy:
‘Ed has done amazing things for the Labour party over very many years, including making the Bank of England independent, including the work to stop Britain entering the Euro, all sorts of important things.
‘He’s now doing other things. We were obviously really sad that he lost but that, as he said, democracy at its purest and simplest. And so he’ll have other things that he wants to do rather than coming back into politics. So I’m standing and I’ve got a whole series of different ideas I want to pursue for the country.’
The Balls question is one that Cooper will mostly face again if she is elected leader. Rightly or wrong, she is associated in many minds with her husband and therefore such questions about his return are likely to continue. But Cooper clearly thinks it’s an important enough problem for her to highlight that she has ‘different ideas’ to Balls and her robust response suggests she has a clearly strategy to show Ed and Yvette aren’t the same person.