Yvette Cooper MP

Working hard for Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford & Knottingley


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Below are extracts from Yvette's address to Labour Women's Conference in Brighton on 26th September 2015/ 



Thank you –

We wanted to start this year’s conference with a special tribute

To someone who has done so much for women’s equality, and for the Labour party

But as she would say herself even more importantly to the wider achievements of women that she has made possible

Here as we stand at the women’s conference Harriet reinstated 5 years ago

More women have joined our party in the last month than are members of the Tory party altogether

More women on this platform than there are women Liberal Democrat MPs

More women councillors than ever before

More women candidates than ever before

We can be proud of the changes Harriet and our party have made for women’s equality across the country
For me it’s good to be back - after a rather busy summer of hustings and rallies and selfies and smiles, and people stopping you to chat in stations and on the street.

It was on Thursday I realised things were back to normal.

I was on the tube with Ed and a man came up to me waving his smartphone

Another selfie, I thought? But, no. He just wanted me to take a photo of him and Ed

He was really nice about it afterwards though, he said, "I think you're doing a really good job, especially for women -
- nice to see you Harriet."

As he got off the tube, to much amusement from Ed, I started to wonder if Jeremy had a point about women only carriages


But here's the thing:

Even those who aren’t sure who we are still know how much Harriet has done for women.

When she was first elected 3% of MPs were women.

3% imagine it – 627 out of 650 MPs were men.

An entire shadow cabinet of men.

Harriet arrives,

heavily pregnant,

challenges the Tory government on childcare,

sets up the women’s PLP,

demands quotas on the shadow cabinet

and then points out she needs maternity leave.

The men in Parliament didn’t know what had hit them



As Jeremy rightly said at the Leadership Conference, “Harriet’s absolute commitment and passion for decency, equality and the rights of women in our society is something we honour her for and thank her for.”

As Jess Phillips said, “In every part of my life this woman threw the ladder down to me and urged me to climb up.”

I first met Harriet 23 years ago this week - it was a job interview, at Labour Party conference in Blackpool. She had rushed off round a corner and as I tried to catch up I tripped, grazed my knee and laddered my tights.

Harriet promptly took me to Marks and Spencers, bought me more tights and conducted the interview over the socks.

She helped Jess up the ladder, she helped me mend my ladder

Nothing is ever orthodox with Harriet and thank God for that


You are about to see a film of different tributes to Harriet the changes she's championed,

The personal difference she's made not just on women's equality, but on equality for all.

From her work on the Equality Act to changing the law on violence against women,

From campaigning for the minimum wage to making sure over 40% of Labour's MPs are now women.

You will find few other politicians in the last fifty years who have shown so much personal leadership for a cause against the odds and have changed politics and changed so many lives as a result.


But it’s not enough to praise Harriet. After all, we say nice things about her at every women’s conference.

There are reasons why Harriet has been such a pioneer.

First she has always, always made it her mission to help other women get on,

That basic Labour principle that we are stronger when we stand together than when we leave people to sink or swim alone - always encouraging other women to stand for things, go for things, argue for things.

If Sheryl Sandberg's motto is for women to lean in, be ambitious, plan how to get on then Harriet's motto is for women to lean out, reach out a helping hand to other women, so we change the world together

And here's the other reason.

She isn’t afraid to have a row, she isn’t afraid to take the flak

From her first controversial questions about childcare to all women short lists,

From the equality act and the minimum wage to the pink bus

She's always been ready to shake things up


But she’s set challenges for all of us for the future.

First that we cannot stop campaigning for equality and for women’s equality and we have to keep pushing the new frontiers.

Remember this is a Tory government which is hitting women harder than ever - breaking all the promises David Cameron made before the election.

The cuts to tax credits hit women twice as hard as men.

Childcare help is being delayed.

And women will be hardest hit by George Osborne's threat to cut 40% from public services.

By the end of this Parliament this latest round of Tory changes to tax, tax credits and child benefit will take £9.6 billion from people’s pockets –

£7bn of that is coming from women, even though they earn less and own less than men.

Its why we have to work with our great new shadow Women and Equalities Minister Kate Green, with Jeremy, Tom, Angela and the new Shadow Cabinet, with Kezia in Scotland, Carwyn in Wales and Glenys in Europe on standing up for women on challenging the prejudice or poverty or discrimination that holds women back, on celebrating women’s achievements, on standing up for everyone who needs a strong Labour party now more than ever.

And we have to campaign on new frontiers

To confront the old prejudice and discrimination that is appearing in new places.

The culture of abuse and harassment that seems to be growing again

And some of the misogyny we have seen online.

Gamergate – look it up, it’s appalling – women hounded out of the online gaming industry, silenced by rape threats and bullying

Women who campaign for something as simple as getting Jane Austen on a bank note targeted with rape threats

Women in law or business bombarded with misogyny and abuse on twitter or on Facebook because they challenge sexism at work

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Charlotte Proudman, Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn targeted by those who want to silence them

And those are the high profile women we know about

Far more worrying are the teenagers targeted on Facebook or twitter – called feminazis, targeted with homophobic abuse because yes they are feminists, yes they use the f word, who end up feeling silenced instead

And we’ve seen some of that abuse, harassment, bullying and misogyny in politics, in the Scottish referendum campaign, in the General Election campaign and even on the margins of our own party in this leadership election campaign too.

This isn’t about senior politicians like Harriet, me, Liz, Stella, Angela, Caroline - we're never going to be silenced by the high tech equivalent of angry letters written in green ink that politicians have received for centuries.

But what about those speaking out for the first time. Those in all walks of life who suddenly find themselves subject to a torrent of abuse for speaking out and who end up being put off or staying quiet.

We don’t stand for it on the street, why should we tolerate it online?

Unless misogyny on the internet is challenged, more women’s voices will be silenced, and more women will be oppressed or feel prevented from speaking out just as if we'd gone back to the Victorian age.

The internet is our new public space. We can’t allow women to be silenced, just as we can’t allow women to be silenced on the streets and in our towns

Women in all walks of life have to stand together on this - in politics, in the media and in business. And the Labour Party needs to lead the way, set the example.

We must not stand on the sidelines as women’s voices are drowned out by vitriol and hate

Finally we should remember the really important thing Harriet and Labour women in the 80s and 90s achieved

They made Labour matter for women.

They made us not just a strong campaign for women's equality, but the strongest voice for so many different women across Britain who had never been heard in politics before.

For decades after the war, the Tories won with women.

No longer. Labour became the champion for women’s equality, for families, and for all women who wanted politicians for the first time to get the reality of their lives and wanted their voices to be heard.

That is our task again now. And Labour has to raise our game.

Because at the last election we lost too much of that hard won support among women.

So we cannot be a Party that just looks inwards at ourselves. Labour has to once again stand up for women across the country.
Jeremy’s leadership campaign promised hope and called for a new politics.

Thousands more women have joined our Party in the last few months. The energy, enthusiasm and new ideas that women bring are vital to our future.

Now all of us in the Labour Party have to work together to make those new ideas and that hope real for women across the country and to reach out and reconnect with women’s lives.

Bringing together Labour supporters, former Labour supporters and those who have turned away or never voted Labour.

So here’s our tribute to Harriet

To keep fighting

No one made it easy for Harriet, Diane Abbott, Jo Richardson and the women who fought before us

But Harriet has fought battles so the rest of us can be here now

She took the flak to pave the way for everyone else, she had the rows that changed women’s lives

I’ve always said in the fight for women's equality, each generation stands on the shoulders of their mothers and their grandmothers

There’s rather a lot of us up there trying to keep our balance on top of Harriet's epaulettes

Harriet – we thank you


Yvette addresses Labour Party annual Women's Conference 2015 in Brighton

Below are extracts from Yvette's address to Labour Women's Conference in Brighton on 26th September 2015/  CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Find out more about Yvette's campaign to be Leader of the Labour Party

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Yvette Cooper is calling on Planning Minister Brandon Lewis to stop delaying and make a decision on a new stadium for Castleford Tigers.

Under new laws, Government Ministers have around 21 days to “call in” a planning application if they believe there are unresolved local issues or an application is of “national significance” or they can choose to delay the decision if there are grounds to do so. In March the Government decided to delay any decision on the new development in Glasshoughton until after the General Election.

In a letter sent at the time to Secretary of State Eric Pickles, Ms Cooper cited the overwhelming public support for the scheme and the benefits it will bring to the area; £135m of new investment and an estimated 2000 new jobs.

She’s now calling on supporters of the scheme to join her in writing to the Planning Minister to ask him to take up the scheme and end the delays.

Yvette Cooper MP said:

“This stadium is really important for Cas Tigers and will secure the future of the Club into the future. And most people round here just want to get on with it. Everything is ready, we’re ready to break ground and we’ve been waiting ten years already.

“Of course there’s always a legal process that has to happen when a planning application goes in and it was right to delay things during the campaign period but it’s over a month now since the election and we’ve still had no word and we need action.

“I’m writing to the Minister calling on him to approve the scheme as soon as possible and I think everyone who is supporting the new stadium should do the same, even if they’ve already done it earlier in the year.

“The easiest way is to send an email directly through http://forms.communities.gov.uk/ or people can write to my office and I will send them along. We’ve waited long enough. The Government need to make a decision and grant permission for the new stadium now.”

Yvette calls for end to delays from Planning Minister

Yvette Cooper is calling on Planning Minister Brandon Lewis to stop delaying and make a decision on a new stadium for Castleford Tigers.

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Recent Law & Order

In response to news Hampshire Constabulary have agreed a £20,000 out-of-court settlement with a rape victim after officers failed to investigate her complaint properly and arrested her, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said:

“For a rape victim to be threatened herself with prosecution after asking the police to help is truly dreadful. This case shows far too little has been done to make sure victims get the help and support they need.

“Once again we have seen a victim judged rather than believed - and poor investigation of a very serious offence. And it isn't the only case. Over the last five years we have seen an appalling drop in rape prosecutions and convictions even though the number of reported cases has gone up. 

“The Government has done nothing to tackle this "culture of disbelief" in many police forces, and instead the specialist officers needed to deal with sexual offences are being cut back. There is now a desperate need for higher national standards in dealing with these serious sexual offences. And we need urgent assurances that more specialist teams will not be cut in the next Home Office budget cuts.

“It is extremely important and very welcome that the victim in this case has been able to hold the police to account and get further justice and compensation as a result of the Human Rights Act. The Government must not undermine human rights protection for vulnerable victims of crime.”


Statement on Hampshire Constabulary compensation to rape victim

In response to news Hampshire Constabulary have agreed a £20,000 out-of-court settlement with a rape victim after officers failed to investigate her complaint properly and arrested her, Shadow Home Secretary...



Mr Speaker, an estimated 600 British citizens have now travelled to join the conflict in Syria – from extremists with a terrorist history to fifteen year old school girls.

The whole house will share a revulsion at the barbarism of ISIL, a determination to tackle extremism, and strong support for the vital, and unsung work of the security services and police to tackle the threat here and abroad.

The House has recently supported further legislation to tackle the terrorist threat. But there are a series of specific areas where we need answers about Government policies and decisions.

First the handling of a West London network of terror suspects.

In 2011 court papers describe a network including three individuals relocated on control orders, ten other named individuals and further unnamed individuals based in West London, involved in the “provision of funds and equipment” to terrorism and “the facilitation of individuals’ travel from the UK” to join terrorist-related activity.

The Home Secretary’s decision to abolish control orders and cancel relocations was implemented in 2012 so no one could then be relocated despite the continued police view that it was one of the best ways to disrupt terrorist networks.

One of those who had been relocated absconded in a London black cab.

Another associate absconded wearing a burka

And other men from the network have been reported in the media as subsequently leaving for Syria and becoming involved in brutal violence.

The Home Secretary has finally restored the relocation power within the last few weeks.

So can she tell us.

Does she believe that her decision to remove relocation powers made it easier for this West London network to operate, recruit and send people to Syria?

Will she ask the Independent Terrorism Reviewer or the Intelligence and Security Committee to now look at the details of this West London network, and whether Government policy made it easier for them to operate.

Mr Speaker,

We also need to know about Government policy to prevent young people and children travelling to Syria in the light of the distressing story of three schoolgirls who have travelled there from East London.

I have not had a reply to my letter last Wednesday.

Can she tell us:

Did the Government have an agreement in place with the airlines to raise alerts over unaccompanied minors travelling on known Syrian routes.

If not, why not, and will she put one in place now?

The girls flew out on Tuesday. They did not leave Istanbul bus station until late Wednesday. It is reported that the police contacted the London Embassy on Wednesday. But when were the Istanbul authorities alerted and when were checks made at the main airports, train and bus stations?

One pupil from Bethnal Green Academy is reported to have left for Syria before Christmas, and it is known that recruitment takes place through friendship groups and social media.

So what training and support was given to the teachers and parents of other children at Bethnal Green Academy to prevent further recruitment, grooming and radicalisation? And what community led Prevent programmes is the Home Office supporting in Bethnal Green?


Urgent Question on the Government’s counter terrorism policy

STATEMENT  CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY Mr Speaker, an estimated 600 British citizens have now travelled to join the conflict in Syria – from extremists with a terrorist history to fifteen year...


Wednesday 14th January 2015

Mr Speaker.

The attacks last week demonstrated the savagery with which terrorists seek to divide us.

The murderous intolerance and bigotry they pursue aims to spread fear, but also to sow the division they believe exists. Us against them.

Paris has not let the terrorists win.

The French police have been praised for the action they took.

Charlie Hebdo is being published today.

Faiths have united, abhorring the Anti-Semitism and grieving for the victims of the attack at the Kosher supermarket.

Muslims across the world have, of course, condemned an attack which is not Islamic and is not in the name of their religion.

The brother of the French Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet has said, “my brother was killed by people who pretend to be muslims, they are terrorists, that’s it.”

The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition attended the Unity Rally in Paris along with the Prime Minister.

I joined people in Trafalgar Square on Saturday raising pens in solidarity with the Je Suis Charlie cause.

In the attack the terrorists targeted other peaceful religions.

They targeted writers.

They targeted those whose job it is to keep us safe.

In other words they attacked both our liberty and our security.

The response of democratic governments everywhere to these sorts of attacks should be to defend both. Government need to keep people safe so we can enjoy our freedoms.

Let me turn to the specific issues in the Home Secretaries statement.

I am concerned by the rushed way in which the Home Secretary has made the statement today. I did not see the statement before coming to the House.

I welcome the action taken by our intelligence agencies and police to support the authorities in Paris and pay tribute to the work they do to keep us safe.

As the Home Secretary has said, the Government has a Counter Terrorism Bill going through Parliament right now, which we have supported and will continue to support.

Which restores the relocation powers for serious terror suspects that she abolished four years ago as we called for.


The agencies have pointed to the threat posed by the estimated 300 returning from conflict in Syria.

Can she tell us whether any of those estimated 300 have been prosecuted?

Can she confirm that none of them are currently subject to TPIMs, even though these powers are supposed to be for dangerous suspects whose activity needs to be restricted to keep us safe.

Can she tell us whether the security service and police are reviewing all those cases to see whether TPIMs could help – especially with relocation powers restored.

What is also being done about other known extremists who were previously on TPIMs?

Can she tell us how many of the estimated 300 have engaged with the Channel programme and does she agree that we should now make that compulsory for everyone returning – something the current Counter Terrorism Bill does not do.

On the issue of access to dangerous weapons and firearms she will know that there has been concern about reduced customs and border checks. What action is she taking to increase border checks for weapons?

On Communications data technology is changing all the time. And that means the law needs to keep up – both in terms of the capabilities of the agencies to get the vital intelligence we need, and in terms of the oversight we need

In July Parliament supported emergency legislation to ensure the agencies and police could maintain vital capabilities

This month the Commons supported extending those powers to ensure IP addresses are covered not just phone numbers

And in July all parties agreed to support a review by David Anderson, the independent counter terror reviewer, into the oversight and powers needed to keep up with changing technology.

The previous Communications Data Bill was rejected three years ago by the joint committee established by the Government to scrutinise it because it was too vague, too widely drawn and put too much power directly into the hands of the Home Secretary. They recommended that new legislation be needed to be drawn up in a far more limited way, and that the Government needed to provide more clarity and evidence about what changes they needed.

Since then the Home Secretary has not come forward with any revised proposals to me or anyone else in this House, she has not attempted to get agreement in Parliament to revised proposals, even though we have said we were happy to discuss details with her. Given the urgency she now says there is can she tell us why she has not done so?

In July she was happy to agree to the review by David Anderson which is due to report before the election, now she doesn’t even mention it. This is an extremely important issue where the detail matters. Detail on the powers that are needed, details on the safeguards and the oversight that are needed.

We believe the agencies and the police do need to get intelligence to keep us safe and so need safeguards and strong oversight to prevent abuse.

I would strongly caution her and the liberal democrats against setting up a caricatured argument between them about security on the one hand and liberty on the other.

We need to protect both in our democracy.

The terrorists on that first day in Paris targeted both writers and police officers – the embodiment of free expression and the embodiment of state protection. We need to protect both and we can do both and we should have a responsible debate about the precise proposals they need.

Most important though is to stop people being drawn into hatred in the first place. In the end the best defence against hatred is strong and cohesive communities. She will know our long standing concern however that community led programmes within Prevent have been reduced from £17m to £3m – yet it is more important than ever that community organisations are actively working to prevent young people being drawn into extremism, supporting parents, challenging the spread of hatred, and challenging on social media too. Will she now work with local government to strengthen community activities to challenge extremism.

Can she also tell us what action is being taken to challenge all forms of extremism in Britain, including working with the Community Safety Trust on challenging anti-semitism.

Terrorists try to silence us, to cow us, and to divide us. Paris has shown as millions marched and as we stood in solidarity with them, we will not be silenced, we will not give into fear, and must not give in to division. We will defend our democracy.

And we know that we are stronger if we do so together.

Statement in response to Government reaction to terror attack in Paris last week

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY Wednesday 14th January 2015

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