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UK Politics

Former 'Blair Babe' rises to key Labour post

Yvette Cooper is one of the most powerful women in British politics and was once tipped to become Labour's first female prime minister.

Just as her seemingly effortless rise to power in Parliament after entering the Commons as a 1997 Blair Babe appeared to be losing momentum a few years ago, the arrival of Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street revitalised the career of this amiable, yet ambitious woman.

As shadow home secretary, she now has less than a week before playing a key role in Labour's response to the Government's plans for the future of controversial control orders, a key plank in the UK's counter-terrorism armoury.

She succeeds her husband Ed Balls, whom she married within a year of entering the House of Commons, and whom she beat into third place in the shadow cabinet contest last year. They have three children.

Born on March 20, 1969, in Inverness, Scotland, her father Tony Cooper was a trade unionist and her mother June was a maths teacher.

She was educated at the Eggars Comprehensive School, Alton, before studying at Balliol College, Oxford, Harvard University and the London School of Economics.

Ms Cooper began her career as an economics researcher to the then shadow chancellor, the late John Smith, and then worked in Arkansas in Bill Clinton's presidential candidate's team. She was later to become a policy adviser at the Treasury under Mr Brown.

In the two years before the 1997 election, she also worked as an economics columnist and leader writer for The Independent newspaper.

After her election as MP for Pontefract and Castleford in 1997, she spent two years on the education and employment select committee before becoming a junior health minister. Later she moved to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

After the 2005 general election, she became minister of state at the Department of Communities and Local Government. Her last job under the Blair regime was as minister of housing and planning, with the right to attend Cabinet.

Mr Brown took her into the Cabinet proper in 2008, first as chief secretary to the Treasury and then a year later as work and pensions secretary.

Labour leader Ed Balls appointed her shadow foreign secretary last October and her popularity among Labour MPs means she seems set to be on the party's front bench in Opposition, or government, for many years to come.