Hampstead councillor Oliver Cooper: ‘Joining Tories was my act of rebellion’

Councillor for Hampstead Town, Oliver Cooper

Councillor for Hampstead Town, Oliver Cooper - Credit: Oliver Cooper

Most teenagers go through an act of rebellion. Some grow their hair, get a tattoo or make friends their parents disapprove of.

As an act of rebellion Oliver Cooper didn’t do any of that. Instead he defied his left-wing parents and joined the Conservative Party. It’s a rebellion that he’s hoping to continue in May’s election as he stands again in Hampstead Town for the Conservative Party.

Cllr Cooper has lived in Hampstead Town for the last decade after going moving to the area while attending University College London.

“I grew up across northwest London, mainly in Harrow, and my parents were both left-wing, but have drifted rightwards as they’ve got older and wiser,” explained Cooper.

He describes his upbringing as “political” with liberal values and “ideas based.” His father is still a Liberal Democrat activist in Islington.

He said: “I decided to take my liberal values, and my views on economic policy and in my act of rebellion I joined the Conservative Party.”

He then became involved with the local party around the 2010 election, when Labour’s Glenda Jackson won by 42 votes.

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Cllr Cooper, who also works as an economist, was himself elected to council in 2015.

Since then he’s been seen as a rising star within the Conservative group in Camden, and the national party.

He has been elected onto the national committee for a Conservative Party campaign group and campaigned for Brexit in last year’s referendum.

In a recent debate where Conservatives were referred to by Labour Kilburn councillor Douglas Beattie as “lower than vermin”, Cllr Cooper issued a impassioned response which led to Lib Dem leader Flick Rea saying he would be more suitable “banging about at Prime Minister’s Questions”.

However despite the character of his response, he insists he doesn’t enjoy the barbed side of the council chamber.

“I can do it, so it might seem like I enjoy it but I intended to make a really dry point about business rates.

“When you’re confronted with that type of comment, I think that’s dangerous. In the context, how could I not respond to that?”

“I think the mayor, Cllr Richard Cotton was right when he said we’re opposition, not enemies. That’s the way we’ve always seen it.”

Cllr Cooper said if he could choose one policy to put into place after the election, it would be to improve Camden’s schools.

“Camden has five schools that it directly runs. Of those, none are outstanding. Only seven children from them applied to Oxford or Cambridge last year, 45 applied from UCS and 25 applied from Camden School for Girls”, he said.

“If you look at that it shows a real gap in our borough between the haves and the have nots.”