Why I'm voting for...Yvette Cooper

This is one of four articles by Young Fabian members outlining why they are voting for their chosen Labour leadership candidate. The views expressed below are those of the author only. The Young Fabians do not endorse any one candidate for the Labour leadership. 

Like every other Labour activist who dedicated an exceptionally large amount of time and effort to trying to get Labour elected in 2015, I have spent a lot of time thinking about why we lost. I don’t believe we lost because we weren’t left wing enough, and I don’t believe we lost because we weren’t right wing enough - because most of the country doesn’t think in terms of left and right wing. We lost because we were not seen to be economically credible, because we let the Tories win on the economic narrative, and because we didn’t offer a holistic alternative to the Tories.

Like every other Labour activist who dedicated an exceptionally large amount of time and effort to trying to get Labour elected in 2015, I have spent a lot of time thinking about why we lost. I don’t believe we lost because we weren’t left wing enough, and I don’t believe we lost because we weren’t right wing enough - because most of the country doesn’t think in terms of left and right wing. We lost because we were not seen to be economically credible, because we let the Tories win on the economic narrative, and because we didn’t offer a holistic alternative to the Tories.

And that is why I’m backing Yvette. Yvette is the only candidate who is defending our record in government and is challenging the Tory narrative that it was Labour that caused the financial crisis. I am Labour because I grew up under a Labour government and saw the difference that Labour’s investment in public services made to my life and my friends’ lives. If the Labour Party doesn’t defend and champion its own record in government, why on earth should the public believe that we are a credible party of government?

To win in 2020, it will not be enough to win back one group of voters. We cannot win without winning back Tory voters; that is certain. But we also need to win back SNP voters, Plaid Cymru voters, UKIP voters, Liberal Democrat voters (those that are left) and Green voters. Yvette is the only candidate with a broad enough appeal to bring together this broad coalition of voters and build a Labour Party which does more than just challenge the Tories, but lays out a coherent alternative too.

I’m backing Yvette because she isn’t just thinking about what Labour should look like and what Labour should do in opposition; she has a vision for what we would do in government. Her plans to build a high-skilled, high-tech, high-wage economy is both about creating a fairer society and about taking Britain’s economy forward into the 21st century.

It is a plan that will appeal to many who voted Tory last time, who want to see a strong economy with plenty of well-paid jobs, but it’s also a plan that will appeal to voters who voted Green and SNP and Plaid - because it is also about creating a fairer society and a fairer economy. From reversing front-line police cuts and mass house building program to a pledge to end child poverty in a generation, Yvette’s vision is both radical and credible.

And I do think it’s important to briefly discuss the fact that Yvette is a woman. I would never vote for someone just because of their gender. However, I do think it is important to be aware of the fact that the realities of the society we live in mean that far too often women who are more than good enough do not get top jobs in politics. And Yvette is a woman who is not just good enough - she is the best person for the job. So let’s not miss this opportunity. Let’s elect the Labour Party’s first woman leader.

 

Rachel Megan Barker is a Young Fabian member 

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