Burnley would-be MP Julie Cooper is ‘one to watch’ says top think tank

Julie Cooper
Julie Cooper

DEFEATED would-be MP, Burnley councillor Julie Cooper, has been tipped as “one to watch” by a think tank.

The left-of-centre Institute of Public Policy Research North puts her in the top 50 of the brightest and most talented people in the North of England in its Northern Lights list published today.

But the nomination came as a complete surprise to Mrs Cooper, who is the leader of the Labour group on Burnley Council. According to the think tank she could step into the limelight at the local elections in May because of the possibility of a significant swing towards Labour. Burnley Council is currently a Lib-Dem controlled council.

Said Mrs Cooper: “I’ve no idea who nominated me, but I’m delighted. We’re heavily involved in preparations for the election. I’m steeped in it, and doing my best to help Burnley cope with cuts in the budget. Burnley needs a Labour Council.”

In recognising her as a potential winner the research centre describes Mrs Cooper as “passionate”. She was the Labour Party’s choice to inherit its hold on the Burnley Parliamentary seat, and as such she campaigned for the seat last year when former MP Kitty Ussher stood down in the wake of the expenses scandal. She says she has not given up on her ambition of being Burnley’s MP.

“Being defeated didn’t diminish my enthusiasm. It gets me out of bed in the morning and gets me going. When you believe in something that’s how it is. Maybe some good times are around the corner for Burnley,” she said.

The think tank believes she is one of a handful of council opposition leaders in significant council areas that may well come to prominence.

The Northern Lights top 50 was arrived at following a call for nominations from business, academia, public service, politics, culture, the arts and social and community action, with the requirement that nominees had to live and work in the north.The IPPR North is the regional arm of the national Institute of Public Policy Research think tank and advocates making the North of England the ‘place to be’ for progressive policy making in Europe.

It argues that one of the keys to ensuring the North prospers is to develop and retain talented people. The Top 50 list includes includes a Conservative and Lib Dem MP.