Yvette Cooper

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The Right Honourable
Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper Ministerial portrait.jpg
Shadow Home Secretary
Assumed office
20 January 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Ed Balls
Shadow Foreign Secretary
In office
8 October 2010 – 20 January 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by David Miliband
Succeeded by Douglas Alexander
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
5 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by James Purnell
Succeeded by Iain Duncan Smith
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
24 January 2008 – 5 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Andy Burnham
Succeeded by Liam Byrne
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
In office
28 June 2007 – 24 January 2008
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Hilary Armstrong
Succeeded by Caroline Flint
Member of Parliament
for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford
Pontefract and Castleford (1997–2010)
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Geoffrey Lofthouse
Majority 10,979 (23.7%)
Personal details
Born (1969-03-20) 20 March 1969 (age 46)
Inverness, Invernessshire, Scotland
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Ed Balls
Children 3
Residence Castleford
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Harvard University
London School of Economics
Profession Economist

Yvette Cooper (born 20 March 1969) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford since 2010, having previously been the MP for Pontefract and Castleford since 1997. She served in the Cabinet between 2008 and 2010 under Prime Minister Gordon Brown as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and then as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. She is currently the Shadow Home Secretary. She is married to fellow Labour politician Ed Balls.

Early life and education[edit]

Cooper was born in Inverness, Scotland. Her father was Tony Cooper, former General Secretary of Prospect union, a member of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and a former Chairman of the British Nuclear Industry Forum.[1] She was also a government adviser on the Energy Advisory Panel.[2]

She was educated at Eggar's School, a comprehensive school in Holybourne, and Alton College. She went on to study at Balliol College, Oxford, where she was awarded first class honours in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.[3] It was there that she became friends with her future colleague, James Purnell. She gained a Kennedy Scholarship in 1991 to study at Harvard University, and she eventually finished her studies with an MSc in Economics at the London School of Economics.

Early career[edit]

She began her career as an economic policy researcher for Shadow Chancellor John Smith in 1990, before spending time working in Arkansas for Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Clinton in 1992. Later that year, she became a policy advisor to Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Harriet Harman and in 1994 moved to become a research associate at the Centre for Economic Performance. In 1995, she became the chief economic correspondent of The Independent until her election to Parliament.[3]

Member of Parliament[edit]

She was selected to contest the safe Labour seat of Pontefract and Castleford at the 1997 general election, after Deputy Speaker Geoff Lofthouse announced his retirement. She held the seat with a majority of 25,725, and made her maiden speech on 2 July 1997, speaking about her constituency's struggle with unemployment.[4] She served for two years on the Education and Employment Select Committee.

In Government[edit]

In 1999, she was promoted to become a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health, and in 2003 moved to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. After the 2005 general election, she was promoted within the same department to become a Minister of State.

Cooper was eventually promoted to become Minister for Housing in 2007, after Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. Cooper was not formally a member of the Cabinet, but did attend Cabinet meetings. Shortly after taking the job, she was required to introduce the HIPS scheme. According to Conservative columnist Matthew Parris, Cooper conceived HIPS but avoided direct criticism for its problems because of her connection with Brown.[5]

The Labour Government under Brown had identified affordable housing as one of its core objectives. In July 2007, Cooper told Parliament that "...unless we act now, by 2026 first-time buyers will find average house prices are ten times their salary. That could lead to real social inequality and injustice. Every part of the country needs more affordable homes — in the North and the South, in urban and rural communities".[6]

In the reshuffle following Peter Hain's resignation on 24 January 2008, Cooper became the first woman ever to serve as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. As her husband, Ed Balls, was already a Cabinet Minister, her promotion meant that the two became the first married couple ever to sit in the Cabinet together. In 2009, Cooper was appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Shadow Cabinet[edit]

Cooper speaking in 2010

After Labour left government in May 2010, Cooper and her husband Ed Balls were both mentioned in the press as a potential leadership candidates when Gordon Brown resigned as Leader of the Labour Party. Before Balls announced his candidacy, he offered to stand aside if Cooper wanted to stand, but Cooper declined for the sake of their children, stating that it would not be the right time for her.[7][8] She later topped the 2010 ballot for places in the Shadow Cabinet, and there was speculation that the newly elected Labour Leader Ed Miliband would appoint her Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.[9][10][11] She would instead be appointed Shadow Foreign Secretary. When Alan Johnson resigned as Shadow Chancellor on 20 January 2011, Cooper was moved to become the Shadow Home Secretary. Her husband, who had previously served in that role, moved to replace Johnson as Shadow Chancellor. Yvette Cooper is now Shadow Home Secretary.

Shadow Home Secretary[edit]

As a Shadow Home Secretary she have spoken on the Labour Party Conference about the case regarding eastern Europeans who were mistreated by the migrant labour employers.[12]

Twitter abuse[edit]

After Caroline Criado-Perez and several prominent women suffered a deluge of criminal threats (including rape threats) on Twitter, Cooper wrote to Tony Wang, the general manager of Twitter UK:

Allegations over allowances[edit]

In May 2009, it was revealed that together with her husband they 'flipped' the designation of their second home three times in a 24-month period, despite being warned several times by expenses officials that their claims were duplicated or inaccurate.[14] Yvette Cooper and her husband, Labour minister Ed Balls, bought a four-bedroom house in Stoke Newington, north London, and registered this as their second home (rather than their home in Castleford, West Yorkshire); this qualified them for up to £44,000 a year to subsidise a reported £438,000 mortgage under the Commons Additional Costs Allowance, of which they claimed £24,400.[15]

An investigation in MPs' expenses by Sir Thomas Legg found that Cooper and her husband had both received overpayments of £1,363 in relation to their mortgage. He ordered them to repay the money.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Cooper married Ed Balls on 10 January 1998[17] in Eastbourne. Her husband is the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and was a former leadership candidate. They have two daughters and one son.[18] Cooper and Balls were the first married couple to serve together in the British cabinet.[19] In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[20]


  1. ^ "Yvette Cooper Official website". Yvettecooper.com. 20 February 2009. Archived from the original on 26 November 2009. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  2. ^ "Tony Cooper is new Chairman of BNIF". Nuclear Industry Association. 28 June 2002. Archived from the original on 10 June 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Rachel Cooke (1 March 2014). "Yvette Cooper interview: Labour's quiet contender". Archived from the original on 2 March 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "House of Commons Debates 2 July 1997 col 387–91". Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  5. ^ Parris, Matthew (31 May 2007). "Why heroic Ruth should have been in Gordon’s book". The Times. Archived from the original on 23 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "£8 Billion investment and reforms announced to tackle housing shortages" (Press release). Department for Communities and Local Government. 23 July 2007. Archived from the original on 10 June 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2008. 
  7. ^ "Yvette Cooper: Why I'm not standing for Labour leader – this time". The Guardian (London). 28 May 2010. Archived from the original on 30 May 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2010. 
  8. ^ Baldwin, Tom (14 May 2010). "Ed Balls offered to give up leadership bid in favour of his wife". The Times (London). 
  9. ^ "Cooper tops shadow cabinet vote". BBC News. 7 October 2010. Archived from the original on 8 October 2010. 
  10. ^ Groves, Jason (30 September 2010). "After brothers at war, now Mr & Mrs Balls fight for the same job as both go for Shadow Chancellor prize". Mail Online (London: Daily Mail). Archived from the original on 1 October 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  11. ^ Clark, Tom (27 September 2010). "Shadow chancellor: the Labour party runners and riders". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 30 September 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  12. ^ Nigel Morris (24 September 2014). "Labour Party conference: Yvette Cooper promises to crack down on sweatshops". The Independent. Archived from the original on 24 September 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  13. ^ Cited by Matthew Taylor and Ben Quinn "Man held after banknote campaigner receives rape threats on Twitter", The Guardian;, 28 July 2013
  14. ^ Prince, Rosa (15 May 2009). "Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper 'flipped' homes three times: MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  15. ^ Hope, Christopher (24 September 2007). "Ed Balls claims £27,000 subsidy for 2nd home". The Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 1 April 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  16. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (4 February 2010). "MPs' expenses – the day's events as they happened". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 6 February 2010. 
  17. ^ Debrett's People of Today 2011 (Extract Editions ed.). 2011. p. 77. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  18. ^ "Health minister celebrates birth". The Daily Telegraph (London). 27 August 2001. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  19. ^ "The Cabinet: Who's Who". BBC News. 30 November 2009. Archived from the original on 13 April 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  20. ^ "Woman's Hour Power list". BBC Radio 4. Archived from the original on 15 February 2013. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Geoffrey Lofthouse
Member of Parliament for Pontefract and Castleford
Succeeded by
Constituency Abolished
Preceded by
Constituency Created
Member of Parliament for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford
Political offices
Preceded by
Keith Hill
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
Succeeded by
Caroline Flint
Preceded by
Andy Burnham
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Liam Byrne
Preceded by
James Purnell
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Succeeded by
Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by
David Miliband
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
Douglas Alexander
Preceded by
Ed Balls
Shadow Home Secretary