11/04/2012 05:14 BST | Updated 10/06/2012 06:12 BST

Yvette Cooper Should Be The Next Female Prime Minister, Say Young Parliamentarians

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has been voted the likeliest candidate to be the next female prime minister.

This was the outcome of a debate organised between members of the UK Youth Parliament and the British Youth Council (BYC) to mark the release of the Margaret Thatcher biopic - The Iron Lady. The special debate was held in Wimbledon Studios' facsimile House of Commons, used in the film starring Meryl Streep.

The film, released earlier this year, charts Thatcher's rise to the top of a male-dominated political environment to be leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister.

In the debate young people discussed who they thought should be the next female prime minister. Rosina St James proposed Yvette Cooper, applauding her "fantastic" work in politics.

"She is passionate about politics, I believe she would make a wonderful prime minister. She has constantly helped women and always put them at the forefront of her campaigns," St James said.

The suggestion of Cooper was met with applause by the BYC delegates. Another student threw his weight behind Cooper as the next female prime minister and Labour leader, adding pointedly that she would be an ideal replacement for Ed Miliband - "if [he] were to fail, which he probably will do."

Other delegates suggested Stella Creasy and Rachel Reeves would be "fantastic" candidates. One proposed Melody Hossaini, former contestant on the TV show - The Apprentice, as "she may not have political experience, but she is brave, gutsy and voices opinions".

The youth representatives debated the role of women in politics. William Godfrey argued that gender shouldn't impact on political success. "What's between their legs doesn't count, it's what in their head that counts," he said.

Thatcher deserved praise for "making the country a better place", according to Alastair, from Lincolnshire. He added - to to a lukewarm reception - that women who want to get into politics shouldn't be so phased by the parliamentary cut-and-thrust.

"They have to stop taking offence at little things like, 'Calm down, dear,' " he said, before being cut off by heckles.

Siobhan Brasier, a 19-year-old town councillor, said that politics wasn't just a man's world.

"Do we think Cherie Blair, Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron sat back and let their husbands get on with it? Of course not - because they love to get involved. It may appear to be a man's world, but its only because it's what us women want you to believe."

Brasier cited Sally Bercow, wife of the House of Commons Speaker, as a good example of a woman in politics. "She's opinionated, and not afraid to show it. I look up to her," she said.

Poppy Simmons called for a culture change in order to get more women into politics.

"Old politics clearly isn't working for women. Margaret Thatcher may not have been for turning, but we need to turn more women to politics."

The delegates were mixed about Margaret Thatcher's legacy. Lily, from Cambridge, suggested that Thatcher's premiership "was all about her".

"She may have been a woman PM, but she did nothing for women," she added.

However, another student argued that The Iron Lady film portrayed Thatcher as "ground-breaking, iconic and inspirational".

"The film teaches us that regardless of gender, we can do it. Margaret Thatcher paved the way for Condoleeza Rice, Hillary Clinton and many other female politicians. She continues to do that despite her absence from public life. She showed that acting like ourselves makes us authentic", he said.