The tricky choices for Yvette Cooper if Labour wins power

If the polls are right, she could be implementing her plans before long

Share

As shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper probably has the toughest job on the opposition front bench.

She is pitched against a formidable operator in Theresa May, whose combination of steel, hard graft and good luck has led to her being regarded as a major Coalition success.

In addition, the key areas in the home affairs brief – immigration, policing and counter-terrorism – are tricky for Labour, which is terrified of being caught on the wrong side of public opinion on such emotive subjects.

The outlines of how a Cooper-run Home Office could look are beginning to emerge, although much crucial detail remains to be filled in. The Labour leadership has agonised over what note to strike on immigration, insisting it will not mimic Ukip’s approach of blaming “foreigners” for our woes.

But its instinctive caution was underlined last year by its sluggishness in condemning the Home Office’s notorious “go home” vans. It has also been at pains to confess to mistakes in the handling of immigration in office.

If she becomes Home Secretary next May, Ms Cooper has promised to crack down on exploitation pay and jobs agencies that only advertise for foreign workers, to bring in stronger border controls, including exit checks, and to target illegal immigration.

But she faces several unanswered policy questions. She has repeatedly condemned Ms May for failing to meet David Cameron’s pledge to reduce net migration to tens of thousands. That single target would be swept away by Labour, but what would replace it?

Would she, as part of a promised “progressive” approach, make it easier for family members to join relatives in Britain?

One long-standing immigration specialist forecasts Ms Cooper would build on her predecessor’s work rather than change direction. He adds: “Tonally I don’t think she will be very different from Theresa May.” Ms Cooper this week announced that a drive against the hidden crime of domestic violence would be a key priority.

Labour’s first Queen’s Speech would include legislation to stop abusive partners evading prosecution. She has also pledged Labour would get officers out of patrol cars and on to the beat. That is a voter-friendly promise which raises further questions. Given the party’s commitment to rein in spending, would other areas of policing then be cut?

The shadow Home Secretary has vowed to reform the “flawed” Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) system and overhaul the structure of policing.

She would scrap the Independent Police Complaints Commission and replace it with a watchdog with more teeth, but has not said how she would reform the system. Moreover, would she defy public opinion and force through mergers of smaller county forces in England and Wales?

One area to expect continuity from Ms Cooper is in the balance between civil liberties and combatting terrorism. Labour’s instincts are broadly in tune with the Tories, last month endorsing the principle of giving the security services emergency powers to monitor internet use.

She could even go further than Ms May and bring back the last Government’s control order regime for monitoring terror suspects.

Ms Cooper will fill in some of the blanks in her speech to the Labour conference on 23 September. If the polls are right, she could be implementing her plans eight months later.

READ NEXT:
The reality of life under Israel's Iron Dome
Why black cats make amazing pets, and take good selfies too
The Ebola outbreak teaches us an important lesson about aid  

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Ashdown Group: PHP Web Developer / Website Coordinator (PHP, JavaScript)

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: PHP Web...

Recruitment Genius: Estates Projects & Resources Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in London, Manchester, Br...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: moderate, iconic royals are a shoe-in for a pedantic kicking

Guy Keleny
 

Letter from the Whitehall Editor: Cameron is running scared from the “empty chair”

Oliver Wright
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us