POLITICS
26/06/2015 19:18 BST | Updated 27/06/2015 06:59 BST

Yvette Cooper Has 'Strength And Experience' To Lead Labour, Write 13 West Midlands MPs

Yvette Cooper makes a speech in support of her Labour Party leadership campaign at 10 Greycoat Place, London, as the final line-up of candidates in the Labour leadership election will become clear when nominations close for the contest to succeed Ed Miliband at the helm of the Opposition.
Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Yvette Cooper makes a speech in support of her Labour Party leadership campaign at 10 Greycoat Place, London, as the final line-up of candidates in the Labour leadership election will become clear when nominations close for the contest to succeed Ed Miliband at the helm of the Opposition.

A group of West Midlands Labour MPs have today urged the party to choose Yvette Cooper as the next leader of the party, in an open letter published on The Huffington Post UK.

The 13 MPs including former chief secretary of the Treasury Liam Byrne and the current shadow chief secretary of the Treasury Shabana Mahmood say Cooper has the "strength and experience" as well as the life story to win back English voters that deserted Labour at the election.

Today, Cooper will face the other leadership candidates, Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn at a hustings in Birmingham.

The MPs write: "We need a leader who can reach out to all our communities in the West Midlands – someone who is as comfortable at a meeting with businesses as they are at the schoolgate, community centre or in a working men’s club. As happy reading stories and playing with children at Birmingham’s Stanville Primary as she is discussing small business growth in Rugby or holding meetings with people on immigration in Dudley North.

"Yvette was born in Scotland, but brought up in Hampshire. She represents a constituency in Yorkshire, but takes on Theresa May in debates in Westminster. She is the candidate that can best reach out and appeal to those communities in every region (including the West Midlands) who turned away from Labour at the last election."

In what will likely be seen as a swipe at Kendall, who has not served in government or in the shadow cabinet, the MPs point out Cooper served in the last Labour cabinet.

"We need someone with strength and experience, who can take the Tories on from Day 1," they write. "Yvette led a £100 billion government department when she was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. She was one of the Ministers who helped roll out Sure Start centres, which have benefited so many children round here. And she put in place new programmes to help young people into work in the Treasury.

"We’ve all seen her tear strips off Theresa May, the Home Secretary, over the last five years – on her record on violence against women and girls, the support offered to refugees, their failed net migration target and their devastating police cuts. And we know she could make mincemeat of David Cameron and George Osborne too."

However the letter also seeks to challenge the idea that Cooper has been around for too long to energise the party and win the country. "We need someone with fresh ideas that meet the modern challenges we face," the MPs write.

"Yvette is the only candidate with plans to create the jobs of the future and harness the strength of the digital revolution for Britain. She has called for a revolution in childcare, with universal free childcare for young children to give parents more choice about when to go back to work. And she has committed to making tackling child poverty a core mission of the Labour Party in the next decade."

The signatories of the letter are:

  • Ian Austin MP, Dudley North
  • Richard Burden MP, Birmingham Northfield
  • Liam Byrne MP, Birmingham Hodge Hill
  • Jim Cunningham MP, Coventry South
  • Jack Dromey MP, Erdington
  • Colleen Fletcher MP, Coventry North East
  • Khalid Mahmood MP, Birmingham Perry Barr
  • Shabana Mahmood MP, Birmingham, Ladywood
  • Steve McCabe MP, Birmingham Selly Oak
  • Jess Phillips MP, Birmingham Yardley
  • Geoffrey Robinson MP, Coventry North
  • Ruth Smeeth MP, Stoke-on-Trent North & Kidsgrove
  • John Spellar MP, Warley

The letter in full:

Today the Labour leadership race hits the West Midlands, with a major hustings event in Birmingham. All four candidates will be there making the case for why they want to lead our Party into the 2020 General Election.

Ahead of this, we wanted to set out why we think Yvette Cooper is the woman for the job.

Firstly, we need a leader who can reach out to all our communities in the West Midlands – someone who is as comfortable at a meeting with businesses as they are at the schoolgate, community centre or in a working men’s club. As happy reading stories and playing with children at Birmingham’s Stanville Primary as she is discussing small business growth in Rugby or holding meetings with people on immigration in Dudley North. Yvette was born in Scotland, but brought up in Hampshire. She represents a constituency in Yorkshire, but takes on Theresa May in debates in Westminster. She is the candidate that can best reach out and appeal to those communities in every region (including the West Midlands) who turned away from Labour at the last election.

Secondly, we need someone with strength and experience, who can take the Tories on from Day 1. Yvette led a £100 billion Government Department when she was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. She was one of the Ministers who helped roll out Sure Start centres, which have benefited so many children round here. And she put in place new programmes to help young people into work in the Treasury. We’ve all seen her tear strips off Theresa May, the Home Secretary, over the last five years – on her record on violence against women and girls, the support offered to refugees, their failed net migration target and their devastating police cuts. And we know she could make mincemeat of David Cameron and George Osborne too.

Thirdly, we need someone with fresh ideas that meet the modern challenges we face. Yvette is the only candidate with plans to create the jobs of the future and harness the strength of the digital revolution for Britain. She has called for a revolution in childcare, with universal free childcare for young children to give parents more choice about when to go back to work. And she has committed to making tackling child poverty a core mission of the Labour Party in the next decade.

Yvette has the determination and strength to rebuild the Midlands as a mighty manufacturing base once again. We have some hugely significant success stories. Businesses, like Jaguar Land Rover, which have grown and leading the world on advanced technology. But the benefits of businesses like this are not stretching to all parts of the region. Yvette wants to change this – extending opportunities to develop start-ups, new technology businesses to our towns, rather than restricting them to our major cities.

At the hustings today, Yvette will be expanding on these ideas and what they mean for people across the West Midlands. We hope as many people as possible take the time to listen – we think they’ll like what they hear!