Thursday, 12 March 2009

Harriet Harperson Harman in the Economist.

Tomorrow's Economist has an interesting article about the "lady in red" Harriet Harman:
PRIVILEGE is no bar to the commanding heights of the Labour Party. Neither are women always squashed under its industrial machismo. There is even a place for lifelong Londoners in a movement whose heartlands are northern and Celtic. So much is obvious from a glance at the cabinet with its expensively schooled chancellor, female home secretary and Primrose Hill’s own Miliband brothers.

But no modern Labour figure embodies all three forms of otherness like Harriet Harman, the deputy leader whom many suspect of manoeuvring to replace Gordon Brown after the general election he seems doomed to lose next year. Recent weeks have seen this feminist of vaguely aristocratic provenance, not only a native of the capital but an MP for one of its constituencies, side with the left of the party on such wedge issues as bankers’ pay and the planned part privatisation of the Post Office. Bookmakers have her the favourite to take over from Mr Brown and, having beaten five others to the deputy leadership in 2007, she is a proven winner.

She is also a survivor. Almost half of her 58 years have been spent in Parliament. She has weathered myriad setbacks, including her controversial decision to send her son to a selective school, and her sacking in 1998 as secretary of state for social security after a row with a junior minister there. And unlike other veterans such as Jack Straw and Alistair Darling, she projects a hint of freshness: her three years out of government (followed by four in the quiet role of solicitor general, where she relived her early career as a lawyer) proved as invigorating as it was frustrating.

Even Ms Harman may be daunted, though, by the obstacles that lie between her and the Labour crown. Younger colleagues such as James Purnell, Ed Balls and one or both of Ed and David Miliband can claim to be better long term bets. The Labour left, in which the party may seek comfort after years of centrist compromise, is roamed by the creative Jon Cruddas and the increasingly active Peter Hain, both outside the cabinet. Ms Harman is no great thinker, say many, and lacks political judgment. Such carping is unfair.she has not survived for so long through obstinacy alone. but she recently encouraged it with a bizarre and unenforceable promise to deny a failed banker his hefty pension.
Full story HERE.

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