U.K. Labour Contest to Choose Between First Black, Female Leader

BROWN SURVIVES MUTINY
Andy Burnham, U.K. health secretary, arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at number 10 Downing Street, in London, U.K., on Tuesday, June 9, 2009. Prime Minister Gordon Brown will remain at the helm of Britain’s ruling Labour Party after beating back a rebellion by members unhappy over its worst-ever defeat in voting for the European Parliament. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg News

Yvette Cooper, the U.K. Labour Party’s home affairs spokeswoman, will run for the leadership of her party, setting up a race that could see Labour select its first black or female leader after its electoral defeat last week.

Cooper, 46, announced her candidacy on Thursday, hours after health spokesman Andy Burnham, 45, joined the race. The bookmakers’ favorite to succeed Ed Miliband as head of the U.K.’s main opposition is business spokesman Chuka Umunna, who would be the party’s first black leader, and its youngest at 36.

Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary of the U.K. opposition Labour, speaks during a one-day event in Birmingham, U.K., on Saturday, March 14, 2015. The Labour leader painted a stark picture of a future Conservative government, accusing the party of planning to roll back public spending to a time when there was no NHS and children left school at 14 years of age.
Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary of the U.K. opposition Labour, speaks during a one-day event in Birmingham, U.K., on Saturday, March 14, 2015. The Labour leader painted a stark picture of a future Conservative government, accusing the party of planning to roll back public spending to a time when there was no NHS and children left school at 14 years of age.
Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Yvette Cooper

Miliband resigned last week after the party suffered its worst electoral defeat since 1987, as Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron won a surprise majority. Miliband has been criticized for anti-business rhetoric and steering the party away from the center ground that it successfully occupied under former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“Labour lost because we didn’t convince enough people in all parts of the country that we had the answers to match up with their ambitions,” Cooper wrote in a Daily Mirror newspaper article on Thursday.

Burnham, in a video message late Wednesday, invoked Blair’s success in 1997, when he ended 18 years of Tory government with a large parliamentary majority. He promised to “rediscover the beating heart of Labour” and speak to voters “like we did in 1997.”

Chuka Umunna, business spokesman for the U.K. pauses during the Grant Thornton business themed debate at the British Museum in London, U.K., on Tuesday, April 14, 2015. The pound has been declining before the U.K.'s most uncertain election in a generation, that risks pushing parties into protracted negotiations to form a government.
Chuka Umunna, business spokesman for the U.K. pauses during the Grant Thornton business themed debate at the British Museum in London, U.K., on Tuesday, April 14, 2015. The pound has been declining before the U.K.'s most uncertain election in a generation, that risks pushing parties into protracted negotiations to form a government.
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Chuka Umunna

Both Burnham and Cooper represent northern English districts and held cabinet-level positions in former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s 2007-2010 government. Cooper is married to Ed Balls, the former finance spokesman who lost his seat last week in one of the high-profile surprise defeats of election night.

A four-month battle lies ahead, while the party will be led by interim chief Harriet Harman. The party has also been led on an interim basis by Margaret Beckett.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NNrgKpr6Lo

Labour will announce the results of the contest, in which junior health spokeswoman Liz Kendall will also run, on Sept. 12.

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