I went into this contest with an open mind. I hadn’t chosen a candidate, and wanted to hear what they all had to say. I could have gone for any of three of the four candidates.
The truth is that I could still live with any of those three. But one candidate has, for me, stood out as the best of the candidates. One candidate who has stood head and shoulders above. One candidate who has convinced me that they have what it takes to take the fight to the Tories and to lead the Labour Party forward from the defeat we suffered in May.
I am proud to say that I am backing Yvette Cooper to be the next leader of the Labour Party.
I didn’t really expect to choose Yvette. I had her pegged as aloof and sterile, without ideas or passion. I was wrong, and that was clear after the first hustings.
Throughout, she was calm and in control, with a sense of knowing what she was talking about. I think that was what I had initially taken for aloofness, but I can’t have been paying much attention. She has been called a safe pair of hands, and I think that is true. The party would be safe in her hands, and the country would be too.
She has served at the highest levels of government, but doesn’t, to my mind, have the baggage of the last Labour government. Her service has been quietly competent, workmanlike, and she was behind some of the most successful policy initiatives of the Blair/Brown years, such as Sure Start.
She has shown an awareness of where we went wrong, without combining it with a complete capitulation to the policies of our opponents.
On top of that, it is high time that Labour had a female leader. The Labour benches are blessed with some of the most gifted and effective women in the commons, and Yvette exemplifies that for me. She is the only one of the four candidates who I can see besting David Cameron at the dispatch box, and balancing the fire needed of opposition with the cool authority needed of a potential Prime Minister.
Leading Labour to victory in 2020 is a big, big ask of any candidate. We have a mountain to climb ahead to even come close to that objective. But of the four candidates on offer, Yvette Cooper is so far the only one that I believe could do it.