As the MP prepares to depart the green benches and in the first of a series of student-written articles looking ahead to the by-election, Politics and Sociology student Alex Woodhead looks back at the Labour MP’s career.
At the start of my first year at Edge Hill, politics seemed distant and abstract. Members of Parliament were merely figures of celebrity that seemed vaguely connected to the real world. Meeting Rosie Cooper in one of my early sessions changed my perceptions. A figure of warmth, Ms Cooper is a focused and active politician and cares for the people around her in her seat of West Lancashire.
Her time in politics has been one of perseverance. Initially starting as a councillor in Liverpool, Ms Cooper stood in four elections to become an MP before successfully winning her seat in 2005. She has always focused on healthcare and accessibility, and has served as the chair of Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Focusing on health can often involve battles. One of her most notable political contributions was the fight to keep both Southport and Ormskirk NHS Hospitals running separately to allow access for the public to a local healthcare centre.
But perhaps one of her proudest achievements has been raising the profile of language and how we communicate. Her work for the deaf community has been central to her career and stems from her background – both parents were deaf.
The Covid pandemic showed the difficulties deaf people faced. Communication was poor and many felt uninformed and uninvolved. One of Ms Cooper’s final contributions as an MP was the passing of the British Sign Language (BSL) Act. This gives BSL legal recognition as a language in its own right. It requires public services to promote the use of BSL in their practices. Thanks to the work of the MP and her Act of Parliament we have moved towards a more equal society.
But Ms Cooper has also faced considerable danger. It would be negligent not to mention the trauma she had to endure during her time in office, with threats towards her life by the terrorist group National Action. This was a significant contributing factor in her decision to resign. It’s a shame that elected representatives face such difficulties.
Overall, Rosie Cooper has been an MP who fought for her community with all the spirit she had. She will be remembered for her passion for the people she was elected to represent. Leaving to become the Chair of the Merseycare Foundation Trust seems apt for someone so passionate about improving healthcare, and the gap she will be leaving will be a tough one for anyone to fill. Thank you, Rosie Cooper, for your hard work and advocacy, and may your new role allow you to continue your role as a truly devoted public servant.
Alex Woodhead is a student on the BA(Hons) Politics and Sociology course. He is the winner of a University Scholarship for voluntary work within the University’s Politics Lab. Learn more about the range of scholarships at the University.
Alex’s article will be followed by others about the by-election – how to register to vote, why young people should vote, the prospects of independent candidates, and how the different parties are campaigning.
November 22, 2022