Yvette Cooper

The Observer Magazine - - THIS WEEK'S ISSUE -

Politi­cian, 48

Any­body in the street go­ing My par­ents al­ways had an open house. through dif­fi­cul­ties – they could be griev­ing for a part­ner, or hav­ing trou­ble with their tod­dler – would come to ours for help.

It was only six weeks be­fore the 1997 I fell into pol­i­tics al­most by ac­ci­dent. elec­tion when Ruth Kelly and Lorna Fitzsi­mons told me to give it a go. Sud­denly I was out cam­paign­ing. I had to go out and buy a hand­bag.

I once turned up at Kick­ing a rugby ball in a skirt and heels isn’t easy. a Castle­ford Tigers match ex­pect­ing to do a speech and they asked me to kick off ! I re­mem­ber be­ing so proud of thwack­ing the ball down the pitch that I for­got I was sup­posed to run off af­ter­wards be­cause the game had started.

I was 24 and spent a year Hav­ing ME felt like a flu that wouldn’t go away. just watch­ing day­time TV. You learn to man­age your en­ergy well.

But when When you’re young you think you can cram in ev­ery­thing. I be­came sick that wasn’t pos­si­ble and I started to no­tice other peo­ple who had to move through life more slowly, too – a woman with a buggy, an old man cross­ing the road with a stick. It taught me to be more pa­tient.

I had to visit a teenage Pol­i­tics is more like The Thick Of It than you imag­ine. preg­nancy cen­tre in Don­caster once and the car wouldn’t start. The rental firm we used sent a stretch limou­sine for me! I was so em­bar­rassed about turn­ing up in it that I made the driver pull over on a dual car­riage­way and I walked the fi­nal bit of the jour­ney along the hard shoul­der.

We saw lives change. You can’t dis­own the achieve­ments of New Labour. The wait for a hip op­er­a­tion came down from two years to two months. If you ig­nore what’s been achieved then you stop peo­ple be­liev­ing in the power of pol­i­tics to change things.

One of the things Tony Blair made mis­takes, but I don’t ac­cept the ha­tred. I’ve been do­ing re­cently is try­ing to stop the pol­i­tics of ha­tred, and that in­cludes from the Left.

it drove me up the wall. When Ed [Balls, her hus­band] was prac­tis­ing piano At one point he was do­ing marathon train­ing ev­ery Satur­day for four hours and play­ing piano first thing ev­ery morn­ing. And I’d be run­ning around try­ing to find the kids’ plim­solls while he did it.

ly­ing empty be­cause of the Tories. Dur­ing the There are Surestart cen­tres 2017 elec­tion cam­paign I went to one in Lan­cashire. There were all these beau­ti­ful fa­cil­i­ties for kids not be­ing used. It’s in­cred­i­bly frus­trat­ing.

The year be­fore he went on I’d like to take the credit for Ed be­ing on Strictly . I men­tioned it as a throw­away com­ment on Woman’s Hour – “Who knows, he may end up on Strictly.” I think that planted the seed in their minds.

than peo­ple The Labour party are more united be­hind Jeremy Cor­byn make out. Af­ter the sec­ond lead­er­ship elec­tion we all re­ally pulled to­gether. I think that’s why we did bet­ter than ex­pected in the gen­eral elec­tion.

thought Strictly was re­ally em­bar­rass­ing. Our youngest child Our line was: your par­ents are sup­posed to em­bar­rass you, it’s just that your dad is over­achiev­ing.

Tony Blair made mis­takes but I don’t ac­cept the ha­tred. I’m try­ing to stop the pol­i­tics of ha­tred, and that in­cludes from the left

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