|Yvette Cooper's embarrassing brief slip Posted by Ian at 1 00 AM on Sunday, April 11|
PENSIONS Secretary Yvette Cooper was at the centre of a storm tonight after being caught out moaning about being told to do a “second division” press conference.
Cooper spoke to reporters in London yesterday and scrawled a damning note to Chief Treasury Secretary Liam Byrne.
She clearly thought she was too important to be used as the Labour Party’s spokeswoman at their morning press conference about the Tories’ plans to cut taxes for married couples.
Cooper wrote: “It’s clearly second division today - presumably that’s why we’re allowed to do this?”
Byrne replied: “Sort of like being allowed to play in the sandpit.”
The pair, alongside Education Secretary Ed Balls, were lined up to be the Party’s main attack dogs as Gordon Brown was in Scotland.
The conference was called to attack one of David Cameron’s biggest policy announcements.
But the three clearly looked bored as they fidgeted and doodled while taking questions from reporters.
Cooper claimed it was “appalling to tell widows or women who’ve left an abusive husband that they don’t deserve support.”
“And it is completely unfair to tell children whose parents, for whatever reason, aren’t married that they and their families are second class.
“What kind of signal is that? How can that be good for families in Britain?”
Cooper, whose haughty behaviour made her extremely unpopular with civil servants when she was working for the Department of Work and Pensions, is known as one of the most ambitious members of Gordon Brown’s cabinet.
She was thought to be ultra loyal to the Prime Minister.
But behind the scenes she has always been extremely keen to get a bigger job in government.
Cooper is also known to be keen for her husband, Education Secretary Ed Balls to stand for the Labour leadership after the next election.
Brown also rates Byrne very highly, and has rushed him up the greasy pole to the top post of Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Last night a spokeswoman for Ms Cooper said: "No offence. But, as Liam's response showed, Yvette and Liam were laughing at themselves too.
"Ed would like to point out to Yvette, Liam and everyone else that, as a fan of a team at the top of the third tier of English football, there is nothing wrong with the Second Division."
But Shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove said: "Yvette Cooper and Liam Byrne were clearly as bored with what Labour had to offer as everyone else was at their press conference.
"They are part of a third division team with no ideas and nothing to say in this campaign. It's no wonder they are heading for relegation."
It is not the first time a Labour minister has let slip the secrets of her briefing notes.
Former Housing Minister Caroline Flint was snapped outside No10 holding a memo warning of a five-to-ten per cent house-price slump "at best".
The document - clearly visible as she walked along Downing Street - added ominously: "We can't know how bad it will get."
Critics warned that her gaffe would endanger an already fragile housing market.
Gordon Brown, who was campaigning in his home constituency of Kirkcaldy yesterday, will be furious as this display of careless disloyalty.
The PM has already had to fire a potential MP this week after his insulting twitter messages were revealed.
And yesterday Mr Brown told the News of the World he was determined that the election would be dominated by a serious debate about serious issues.
He said: “It is about substance in the end.
“Let’s be honest, you can have all the pyrotechics in the world.
“At the end of the day people are going to choose how they are going to vote on the basis of substance and they are going to look below the superficialities, the PR and the tactics.
“The British people are very discerning and look at who gives them answers to the big questions they are asking.
“It’s not personal, it’s about substance.
The PM was on a carefully stage managed efforts to meet the people yesterday – and could not find a single non-Labour voter.
The PM carried out a walkabout on the main street of his safe Kirkcaldy seat, met voters on a walkabout in nearby Lochghelly, and went to private meetings in Ochill and Dollar.
A lone protester on a quiet suburban street in Dollar shouted: “Are you going to apologise for the Iraq war?” as the PM passed.
He did not respond but earlier the PM defended his low key “meet the people” campaign, saying he would be visiting homes “in every constituency” as he fought for “every vote.”
Despite a massive security operation costing almost £140,000 a day, the PM managed the traditional photo opportunities of kissing babies and pensioners in Kirkcaldy.
Plasterer Kenny McGill, 42, shook the PM’s hand outside a pasty shop and then said: “He’s our man. I’ll be voting for him, everyone around here will be.”
This visit, like Friday’s to Watford, was designed to persuade core Labour voters to turn out on May 6.
The leaflets being handed out by supporters said “The election is a two horse race. It’s a choice between a Labour Government and a Tory Government. A vote for the Lib Dems is no vote at all.”