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Yvette Cooper, live webchat, Tuesday 10 July, 1-2pm

(87 Posts)
GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 28-Jun-12 20:31:27

Yvette Cooper is the Shadow Home Secretary, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities and one of the most important figures in the current Labour Party, often tipped as a future leader. She has a particular interest in what she calls the stretched generation - looking after elderly parents, helping out with grandchildren, worrying about pensions. She's a mother of three and, with her husband Ed Balls, she's half of the first married couple to serve in the British cabinet.

We're delighted that she's coming in for a webchat. Please ask your questions here.

whenim64 Thu 28-Jun-12 21:08:23

Yvette, it would be good if you became known as the first female politician (in fact any politician) who could answer a question without being evasive, or telling the interviewer that what the actual question is, is something else you do want to answer. Do politicians really have no idea just how fed up the public is with the constant ducking and diving? Junior Minister Chloe Smith has really highlighted this unacceptable behaviour in the last couple of days. We don't want Jeremy Paxman to have to beat the answer out of you all, just give us honest answers, please? What do you think?

Grannygee Fri 29-Jun-12 12:15:12

I wonder how you foresee the future generations of children growing up without the parental contact that we (or certainly I) used to have when we were children, given that the young parents of today often have to work many more hours to make ends meet?
My daughter and son in law are certainly of that ilk and although my grandson is happy enough I know he is passed from pillar to post between a nanny, one parent then the other. I think that children really need a certain amount of continuity in their lives and attention from parents is vital. Being able to sit and listen to my children read after school was something I made a priority but how many parents get a chance to let alone the time now with working so many hours then having to tackle the endless chores once they are back home?

Grandnessa Fri 29-Jun-12 13:35:05

How I agree with those previous gransnetters.
It can be difficult to be " in the middle"
Elderly parents to care for my parents
Both had dementia. We kept them at home
As long as possible with very little help. We
Also had to help with grandchildren when the
Sibling became very ill all when we are getting
Old ourselves. All this with very little help from
The state. It strikes me this can only get worse
As the population lives longer and parents
Both have to work to pay ridiculous mortgages. It's all a
Matter of priorities and this government seems
To have completely the wrong priorities.

suttonJ Fri 29-Jun-12 16:47:50

I'm keen to emphasise the inequalities inherent in the system, when care for elderly parents, with dementia, becomes necessary. My late father needed such care, and now my mum lives in a home specialising in dementia care. Unlike much that I read about, the home is superb...but comes with price tag to match. So we're selling the family home to pay for it....and, Yvette, you know how little a modest house in the North of England will fetch. Basically, I'm having to gamble that mum doesn't outlive the proceeds of the house sale. How awful is that?!
Yet if mum had an illness needing nursing care, as opposed to dementia, then the NHS would help her with the costs.
I'd really like the Labour Party to recognise these inequalities, and introduce compulsory state insurance, to cover possible future care costs. Much fairer. Like all insurance, some of us would 'win' and others would 'lose'.

My late dad, believed that if he did the right thing, worked hard, and saved, then he and his family would be looked after by the state, from the cradle to the grave, and that he'd be the first of our family to pass on savings and a house to his children. How wrong he was.
Can you offer any hope of change in the system?

(And, yes, I'm part of the stretched generation, caring, gladly, for grandchildren too!)

distaffgran Thu 05-Jul-12 15:02:46

Have you ever been invited to a country supper?

Anagram Thu 05-Jul-12 22:38:09

I know this is trivial, but couldn't you persuade your husband to get a better haircut? I can't take my eyes off it whenever he's on tv.

Mamie Fri 06-Jul-12 15:59:19

Hello Yvette
Here on Gransnet we have been getting quite upset about what sometimes feels like the demonisation of the older generation. Baby-boomer seems to have become a term of abuse and it feels as if we are besieged by requests (more like orders really) to move out of our homes, do "National Service as volunteers"(?), take in lodgers, give up allowances etc etc. I don't get the impression that this comes from the population as a whole, but more from a
London-centric group of media people and politicians whose own lives are hardly lived on the breadline. I have no reason to believe that the Labour Party buys into this agenda, but I would be interested to hear your views on why this is happening and what the Labour Party will do to counter it. I wonder what you think these people feel they have to gain by stirring up inter-generational strife?

Golightly Fri 06-Jul-12 16:06:39

Do you think it is right that a woman over pension age who had paid the married woman's NI contribution, was widowed at the age of 50 and subsequently married a younger man, should lose all right to a percentage of her first husbands state pension?
It is not enough to say you can claim pension credits if you meet the criteria. Who else then benefits from your late husband's full contribution record if not you?
I know Age Concern carries a financial warning to any pensioners thinking of remarrying on their web site.

Barrow Sat 07-Jul-12 12:04:04

Like Golightly I was unable to claim any of my late husband's pension as he died before he became of pensionable age and I already have a full pension in my own right having paid full N.I. contributions all my working life. How can this be fair? My husband paid this money in the anticipation that it would help us in our later years - once again it is a case of those who have tried to live responsibly and make provision for their retirement are punished whilst those who didn't are rewarded.

A second question. How do you think politicians can regain the trust of the people following the expenses scandal. When I talk to my friends they all say that it doesn't matter who you vote for because they are all the same - out to line their own pockets. Would it not be advisable for all politicians to have held down a "proper" job for at least five years before they can be eligible to stand for election. Most politicians (of all parties) seem to go from university to political researcher to MP without having any idea of what it is like to live in the real world

GadaboutGran Sat 07-Jul-12 17:53:10

Like Mamie, I too would like to hear your views on the demonisation of 'baby-boomers' (as if they are an homogenous group) and the repeated suggestion that there is an inter-generational war & those of us born in the post-war period are to blame for current problems we were somehow meant to predict (and presumably should have refused our free University education etc).

politigeek Sun 08-Jul-12 11:09:10

You obviously stood aside for your husband in the last Labour leadership election. Was the deal that he would stand aside for you if it should come up again while you are still in a position to contest it? Will he find that easy?

skydiver Sun 08-Jul-12 11:15:02

If we have all got to go on working longer, what is going to give? Either there is going to be no extra childcare/out of hours support, or parents are going to have to sacrifice their careers, or grandparents are going to have to stop working at a cost to their pensions. What is the answer?

sneetch Sun 08-Jul-12 11:31:52

I would like to repeat what mamie and gadabout are saying. There is so much hostility to our generation and no politicians seem to be speaking up for us.
It is nonsense to say we are a selfish generation. Most grandparents love their children and grandchildren dearly and a lot of us are very active in our local communities, 'giving something back' in the jargon.
It is not our fault that the economy has become so dependent on a small sector, finance, and there aren't enough jobs for young people. It isn't our fault either that there aren't enough of the right kind of houses for young couples and families. None of this is the fault of a particular generation, it's the fault of policy and leaving everything to the markets and not protecting and nurturing our communities.
Is Labour prepared to say that while young people without jobs are scarred, so are 50-plus people who can't get jobs because of ageism? And that people who have brought up their families in houses that are still at the centre of family life should not be told to move out of them? Why do you think it has become so fashionable to hate us?

greatgablegran Mon 09-Jul-12 09:49:49

If the Tories are bedevilled by the "posh boys" tag, do you think it's fair to say that Labour is still tainted by being seen as all about boys in sharp suits?

There's not much sense that the nerdy boys who run Labour really understand families, especially their older members. What can you do to show us you are not merely a metropolitan gang of mostly men from good universities who are good at spin?

Gally Mon 09-Jul-12 10:10:46

How do you manage to give your children enough time? I chose to stay at home and raise my own children - I don't think they or I suffered; the only suffering I am doing now is living on half of my late husband's Private Pension which, considering what he did, is a pittance - how I wish he had worked in the Public sector!! Perhaps you could also tell me the whereabouts of my MP Mr Gordon Brown - he seems to have disappeared since he lost office?
We are told we Baby Boomers have it all - I don't think so, although I don't think I would like to be starting all over again right now. I have absolutely no faith in any Politician of any persuasion - how sad is that?

closetgran Mon 09-Jul-12 12:15:20

I recently had to look at care homes for my mum. I am afraid that the gap between the council-run homes and the private ones was immense. While I am sure the quality of staff in local authority run care homes can be very high, the fact is that without money, you can't provide activities, and people were left sitting staring into space for much of the day. At other private homes there were activities all the time.

What is Labour's position on this inequality? Why should old people who are poor be left to vegetate in their old age? Is there any way of closing this gap?

Foreveryoung Mon 09-Jul-12 13:10:59

Why aren't you leader of the Labour party? Why didn't you stand, was it about family loyalty to your husband something your leader obviously lacks. Lord knows the Labour party needs a credible and worthy leader rather than a wet blanket. Go on Yvette your country needs you!

DavidH22 Mon 09-Jul-12 16:43:41

There is much cynicism surrounding politicians of all parties after the expenses scandal, links with big business, a feeling that policies favour a chosen few and that politicians have generally lost touch with, for want of a better phrase, the common man. How do you think Labour should try to get back to being a party of and for the people and clean up the image of politicians?
Second question if allowed: Are you and Ed able to leave politics outside once you shut your front door?

POGS Mon 09-Jul-12 23:15:10


POGS Mon 09-Jul-12 23:39:13

Are you aware the public are sick and tired of the politics of hypocrisy, spin and blame. It seems those who protest the most are the worst at it!. The public see through spin and it is a distinct turn off and they will not forgive or forget those who think they are masters/mistresses of it.

I watch Parliament live and I am appalled Speaker Bercow allows such a shambles to take place. The politics of Westminster has degenerated into a bunch of oiks using hand gestures and interupting every word that's said. The voter is completely turned off by this childish behaviour. It simply would not be tollerated in business or even an infants school.

The world can watch Parliament in session and it is an embarrassment not only to the voter but to the country. Shame on you all. It is about time Parliament displayed statesmanship and gave serious thought to the debate in hand, at least try and make the voter think you have a modicum of intelligence to act on our behalf. It's no excuse to say "well that's how Parliament is", we want and deserve better especially with the country in such a mess since 2008.

Do you think it is acceptable the public see and perceive politicians to be so childish and ill-mannered leading us to think you all simply should 'get it' and 'calm down' and do you think some parliamentarians will ever grow up.

haddersmum Tue 10-Jul-12 09:04:50

A report in the papers today says that the average family of four needs an income of £37600 to have the most basic of living standards and many risk slipping into poverty. Historically those in my family have worked hard in average paid employment. My daughter,s great grandparents were able to rent a two bedroom house with garden, her grandparents a three bedroom house with garden, her parents to buy a four bedroom house with garden. She and her husband are bring up their two children in a two bedroom flat with no garden, which we downsized to help them put a deposit on. She works full time, her mother, grandmother and great grandmother either did not work or were able to be at home in their children's infancy. Most grandmothers want better for their. Hidden and grandchildren. We seemed to take a wrong turn somewhere in the 1990s, how does Yvette see the future for our families?

whenim64 Tue 10-Jul-12 09:53:51

Well said POGS

effblinder Tue 10-Jul-12 10:51:45

Hi Yvette,

Do you think that women can really 'have it all' with a career and kids or should we all just stop trying?

Do you think equality could ever be a reality or just an unattainable standard we should strive towards but never reach?

Barrow Tue 10-Jul-12 11:29:44

There is no talk of stopping the "perks" that pensioners receive. First of all these are not perks they are entitlements that have been earned over years of working.

What do you think the criteria would be to stop payment of these entitlements. I think there has been a study which showed that means testing would cost more than would be saved.

Currently if a pensioner has savings over a certain amount they are unable to claim any help with council tax and the like. I have savings over that limit, but my savings are invested to give me an income, which together with my state pension is still less than £12,000 p.a.

I have an ongoing illness which means I will be taking medication for the rest of my life - if I have to pay for the prescriptions at the current rate it would cost me approximately £30 per month.

There was an article in the newspaper yesterday saying that isolation is a problem for pensioners and should be treated as an illness. Take away the bus pass and more pensioners would be unable to go anywhere because of the cost of bus fares and more would become isolated.

The Winter Fuel Allowance was introduced because older people were having to choose between heating their homes or eating - do we want to go back to the time when we get reports of people dying of hypothermia in their own homes!

It's time for someone to stand up and speak for the older generation. We are a large group who, invariable vote, cross us at your peril!!!