Coffee House

Harriet Harman’s push for gender equality – and her own career

8 July 2014

3:03 PM

8 July 2014

3:03 PM

Harriet Harman’s scathing attack on the top men in politics for their failure to advance gender equality has certainly annoyed Damian McBride, who argues that Labour’s deputy leader is talking ‘utter bilge’.

The Standard reports that Harman will say at an event tonight:

‘And imagine the consternation in my office when we discovered that my involvement in the London G20 summit was inclusion at the No10 dinner for the G20 leaders’ wives.’


Presumably she is talking about this dinner, which included the spouses and ‘leading women’ such as Naomi Campbell and Baroness Grey-Thompson. The two male spouses at this summit didn’t turn up because they were busy being men who worked. Although why someone thought that the spouses could only mingle with leading British women (perhaps all the leading British men were busy being busy and important men) isn’t entirely clear. Inviting a few chaps along to a party in Downing Street would have stopped it becoming the ‘girls’ night in’, which sounds frankly terrifying. Perhaps a greater advance for women than whether or not female ministers are left organising suppers for wives will come when political wives neither feel obliged nor have time to trail around the world after their spouses, in need of entertainment while the boys are busy talking politics.

But Harman’s comments suggest that she’s pretty keen, if nothing else, to take the position of Deputy Prime Minister in any future Labour government. Her other ‘imagine my surprise’ comment is about her party’s failure to make her Deputy Prime Minister:

‘Imagine my surprise when having won a hard-fought election to succeed John Prescott as deputy leader of the Labour Party, I discovered that I was not to succeed him as Deputy Prime Minister!

‘If one of the men had won the deputy leadership would that have happened? Would they have put up with it? I doubt it.’

It will certainly be difficult for Miliband to abolish the role after this interview.

P.S. McBride has written a fuller, angrier response to Harman on his blog here.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • kingkevin3

    She’s totally incompetent. I would’nt employ her to iron my shirts.

  • FrankS2

    A sense of entitlement thwarted is a joy to behold

  • DWWolds

    The other side of the coin is that Ms Harman’s own view of her own capabilities is somewhat different from that of other people.

  • Ooh!MePurse!

    Poor Harriet has just been bleating on Newsnight. Laura Kuenssberg asked ‘was it gender or just you?’. Brilliant! But of course it MUST have been down to gender. Harman conveniently ignores the gender of the PM (not the mere deputy) from 1979 to 1990. And from the so called nasty party! Perhaps you’re just not good enough, Harriet.

    • Andy

      It was the P.I.E.
      Would you like a drop of cream with that ?

  • sfin

    I’m with Max Hastings on Harperson. He said (an almost quote):

    “I find her very useful as a politician because, whenever I’m undecided over a particular issue, I research her position and I know I’ll be pretty safe in taking the opposite view”

    Note to Harperson…

    Have a wee look at how Margaret Thatcher did it in the most strongly male orientated bastion in British public life (the post war conservative party).

    If not – be a dear and put the kettle on will you?

    • realfish

      And while the tea’s brewing, clean behind the fridge will you.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Uh, she is in politics because she is too stupid to know how to boil a kettle. She would probably destroy half of Islington in the attempt to make a cup of tea. On the other hand…….

      • Hexhamgeezer

        That is entirely possible. I once had to show Robin Cook how to use a toaster.

  • CharlietheChump

    Harperson talks bilge. Shock, horror.

  • Wessex Man

    The women in UKip don’t need all this rubbish about gender equailty, they just get stuck in and compete and as can be seen from the amount of women MEPs they compete as well as the men. Maggie Thatcher never needed gender equality to become PM. I have a feeling she would be horrified at the thought of it.

    • Ooh!MePurse!

      She would also have been horrified at the thought of a Labour government helped into power by people wasting their vote on a fringe party like Ukip.

  • MirthaTidville

    A certain strain of madness runs through the aristocracy, in this generation its come out in Hattie..

  • Colonel Mustard

    Funny how women in politics are happy to form female only cabals and behave in a preferential to sisterhood way but then whine constantly about what they see as men only events. Equality? What nonsense. Cake and eat it more like.

    Some of the poison in British politics will be extracted when this harpy rides off into the sunset.

  • Andrew Smith

    This is not equality, it’s whining.

  • Marmalade Sandwich

    I hope to see James Delingpole and Rod Liddle post blogs here about Harriet. James was excellent on Channel 4 News with Yasmin. Both women would have no noticeable career if they didn’t go on and on about colour and gender to hide the fact that they have nothing to say.

    • Colonel Mustard

      YAB’s rant about coolies shows her hang ups and prejudices plain as plain. She has a problem with white males. She’s a racist.

      • Andy

        And a Fascist.

  • Diggery Whiggery

    “‘Imagine my surprise when having won a hard-fought election to succeed John Prescott as deputy leader of the Labour Party, I discovered that I was not to succeed him as Deputy Prime Minister!

    Bless you Harriet, the fact that you didn’t succeed 2 jags has nothing to do with you being a woman and everything to do with you being dumbness personified, even compared to Prescott. Both your good-self and Diane Abbott are living proof that positive discrimination lowers standards. You’re both where you are because of what you are not how good you are and you both know it deep down. You’re lucky to have got as far as you have, so if I were you, I’d shut up, keep a low profile and not overplay my hand.

    Legislating for equality of outcome has been and always will be just pie in the sky. Sorry couldn’t resist ;-).

    • Alltaxationistheft

      You are being a bit hard on Dianne Abbott

      • Diggery Whiggery

        In what way?

        • Alltaxationistheft

          Putting her in the same bracket as Harman

    • Michael H Kenyon

      Fabulous. Her interview in the Observer last Sunday was beyond self-parody (. I can’t recall the last time HH said anything interesting, which will make for great radio. HH must make left-wing intellectuals cringe with the banality of her views.

    • bugshead

      Perfectly stated

  • Tom Chance

    She might stand a chance of dining with Obama & co. if she followed Thatcher’s footsteps, got chosen as party leader and won a General Election (or three).

    • Andy

      A slap up meal at Mrs Miggins PIE Shop.

  • figurewizard

    The unspeakable berating the unbearable.

  • Pootles

    The thing that always impresses me is the number of well-connected St Paul’s old girls you see doing motorway repairs at night, working on the oil rigs, emptying the rubbish bins, driving long distance lorries across Europe, that sort of thing. They make you proud!

  • Shazza

    Whenever I see Hattie Harpicperson I think of PIE.

    • Andy

      Would you like some cream with your PIE ???

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Politics Information Exchange?

    • eclair


  • Andy

    Lets not mention PIE.