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Harriet Harman

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Harriet Harman

The Right Honourable
Harriet Harman
Leader of the Opposition
In office
8 May 2015 – 12 September 2015
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Ed Miliband
Succeeded by Jeremy Corbyn
In office
11 May 2010 – 25 September 2010
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by David Cameron
Succeeded by Ed Miliband
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Labour Party Chair
In office
24 June 2007 – 12 September 2015
Leader Gordon Brown
Ed Miliband
Preceded by John Prescott (Deputy Leader)
Hazel Blears (Party Chair)
Succeeded by Tom Watson (Deputy Leader)
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
8 October 2011 – 11 May 2015
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Ivan Lewis
Succeeded by Chris Bryant
Shadow Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
7 October 2010 – 8 May 2015
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Jack Straw
Succeeded by Angela Eagle (as Shadow First Secretary of State)
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
In office
8 October 2010 – 7 October 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Douglas Alexander
Succeeded by Ivan Lewis
Leader of the House of Commons
Lord Privy Seal
Minister for Women and Equality
In office
28 June 2007 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Deputy Helen Goodman
Chris Bryant
Barbara Keeley
Preceded by Jack Straw (Leader, Privy Seal)
Ruth Kelly (Women)
Succeeded by (Women and Equalities) Theresa May
(Leader, Privy Seal)
Solicitor General for England and Wales
In office
11 June 2001 – 10 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Ross Cranston
Succeeded by Mike O'Brien
Secretary of State for Social Security
Minister for Women
In office
3 May 1997 – 27 July 1998
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Peter Lilley
Succeeded by Alistair Darling
The Baroness Jay of Paddington (Women)
Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security
In office
1 July 1996 – 2 May 1997
Leader Tony Blair
Preceded by Chris Smith
Succeeded by Stephen Dorrell
Shadow Secretary of State for Health
In office
19 October 1995 – 1 July 1996
Leader Tony Blair
Preceded by Margaret Beckett
Succeeded by Chris Smith
Shadow Secretary of State for Employment
In office
21 July 1994 – 19 October 1995
Leader Tony Blair
Preceded by John Prescott
Succeeded by David Blunkett (Education and Employment)
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
18 July 1992 – 21 July 1994
Leader John Smith
Margaret Beckett (Acting)
Preceded by Margaret Beckett
Succeeded by Alistair Darling
Member of Parliament
for Camberwell and Peckham
Peckham (1982–1997)
Assumed office
28 October 1982
Preceded by Harry Lamborn
Majority 25,824 (50.1%)
Personal details
Born Harriet Ruth Harman
(1950-07-30) 30 July 1950
London, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Jack Dromey (1982–present)
Children 2 sons
1 daughter
Alma mater Goodricke College, University of York
Religion Christianity
Website Official website

Harriet Ruth Harman, QC MP (born 30 July 1950) is a British lawyer and Labour Party politician who has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1982, firstly for Peckham, and then for its successor constituency of Camberwell and Peckham since 1997. She has served in various Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet positions and, in her role as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, she was twice the acting Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition: from May to September 2010 and from May to September 2015.

Born in London to physician John B. Harman and his wife Anna, a solicitor, Harriet Harman attended St Paul's Girls' School and earned a BA in Politics from the University of York. She qualified as a lawyer and worked for Brent Law Centre from 1978 to 1982, when she was elected MP for Peckham in a by-election following the death of Labour MP Harry Lamborn. Promoted to the Shadow Cabinet by Labour Leader John Smith, she served as his Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1992–1994) and then as Shadow Employment Secretary (1994–1995), Shadow Health Secretary (1995–1996) and Shadow Social Security Secretary (1996–1997) under Smith's successor Tony Blair.

Under Blair, Labour won the 1997 general election, he became Prime Minister and Harman was re-elected for the new constituency of Camberwell and Peckham. Blair appointed her Secretary of State for Social Security and the first ever Minister for Women, serving until 1998, when she left the Cabinet. In 2001, she returned to the Cabinet as Solicitor General for England and Wales, serving until 2005 when she became Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs. In 2007, Blair resigned as Prime Minister and John Prescott resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Labour Leader. Harman ran in the subsequent deputy leadership election and defeated five other candidates, ultimately beating Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson by 50.43% to 49.56%. Gordon Brown, who was elected Leader, appointed Harman Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Privy Seal, Minister for Women and Equality and Labour Party Chair. However, unlike Prescott, she was not appointed Deputy Prime Minister.

She held all of the government positions until Labour lost the 2010 general election. After the defeat, Brown resigned as Leader and Harman became Acting Leader and Leader of the Opposition until Ed Miliband was elected leader. She subsequently served as his Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, combining the position with that of Shadow Secretary of State for International Development (2010–2011) and then Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (2011–2015). After Labour's defeat in the 2015 general election, Miliband resigned as Leader and Harman once again became Acting Leader and Leader of the Opposition. She announced that she would also resign as Deputy Leader, prompting a concurrent deputy leadership election, which was won by Tom Watson.

Harman is currently the longest continuously-serving female MP in the House of Commons.[1][2] She is married to former trade union leader Jack Dromey, who became Treasurer of the Labour Party in 2004 and MP for Birmingham Erdington in 2010. They have two sons and a daughter.


  • Early life and career 1
  • Opposition Member of Parliament 2
  • Labour in Government 3
    • Tony Blair as PM 3.1
    • Deputy Leadership election 3.2
      • Campaign donations 3.2.1
    • Gordon Brown becomes PM 3.3
    • The Family Way 3.4
    • Use of statistics 3.5
    • MPs' expenses 3.6
    • Loyalty 3.7
    • Equality bill 3.8
  • Return to Opposition 4
    • Paedophile Information Exchange allegations and response 4.1
    • Aftermath of the 2015 General Election 4.2
  • Personal life 5
    • Motoring convictions 5.1
  • Styles 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
    • Notes 8.1
  • Publications 9
  • External links 10

Early life and career

St Paul's Girls' School

Harman was born Harriet Ruth Harman at 108 Harley Street in London,[3] to Anna Harman (née Spicer), a solicitor, married to a Harley Street physician John Bishop Harman.[4] Her parents each had non-conformist backgrounds – her grandfather, ophthalmic surgeon Nathaniel Bishop Harman, was a prominent Unitarian[5] and the Spicer family were well known congregationalists. Her aunt was Elizabeth Pakenham, Countess of Longford, and her cousins include writers Lady Antonia Fraser, Rachel Billington, and Thomas Pakenham.[6] Harman is a great-great niece of Joseph Chamberlain and is also related to Richard Chamberlain.[7]

Harman attended a fee-paying public school, St Paul's Girls' School and then gained a BA in Politics from the University of York. During her time at York, she was a member of Goodricke College and was involved with student politics. After York Harman then went on to qualify as a lawyer.

Harman worked for Brent Law Centre in London. Between 1978 and 1982, Harman was employed as a legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties. In this capacity, and just before becoming MP for Peckham in a by-election in 1982, she was found in contempt of court.[8] Harman subsequently took the case to the European Court of Human Rights, successfully arguing that the prosecution had breached her right to freedom of expression. Harman v United Kingdom is still considered a significant case in British public law.[9]

Harman was later involved in a

  • Harman on Tory 'toff' campaign BBC News, 18 May 2008
Video clips

External links

  • Sex Discrimination in Schools: How to Fight it by Harriet Harman, 1978, Civil Liberties Trust ISBN 0-901108-73-1
  • Justice Deserted: Subversion of the Jury by Harriet Harman et al., 1979, Civil Liberties Trust ISBN 0-901108-79-0
  • Violence Against Social Workers: The Implications for Practice by Dan Norris, foreword by Harriet Harman, Jessica Kingsley Publishers ISBN 1-85302-041-9
  • The Family Way: A New Approach to Policy Making by Harriet Harman et al., 1990, Institute for Public Policy Research ISBN 1-872452-15-9
  • The Century Gap: 20th Century Man/21st Century Woman by Harriet Harman, 1993, Vermilion ISBN 0-09-177819-0
  • Winning for Women by Harriet Harman and Deborah Mattinson, 2000, Fabian Society ISBN 0-7163-0596-8
  • Women with Attitude by Susan Vinnicombe, John Bank, foreword by Harriet Harman, 2002, Routledge ISBN 0-415-28742-1



  1. ^ Rt Hon Harriet Harman
  2. ^ Her Majesty's Official Opposition – UK Parliament
  3. ^
  4. ^ "108 Harley Street", Harley Street Guide
  5. ^ Obituary, The Times, 8 December 1945
  6. ^ Archived 15 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Keeping it in the Family". Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  8. ^ See Harman v The Home Office (the conviction for contempt being upheld on appeal) [1983] 1 AC 280, 308; "Home Office v. Harman [1983] 1 AC 280 (HL)".  
  9. ^ source: Harriet Harman: The QC who has learnt to keep her own counsel may yet earn a return to Cabinet, Robert Verkaik, The Independent (London), 30 December 2002
  10. ^ a b c Annie Machon, Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers: MI5, MI6 and the Shayler Affair, Book Guild, May 2005, ISBN 1-85776-952-X (hbk); The Guardian, 21 February 1985; 20/20 Vision (Channel 4, 1985)
  11. ^ "Social Security Secretary; Minister for Women – Harriet Harman". BBC Political Research Unit ( 
  12. ^ "Harman made equalities secretary". BBC News. 26 July 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  13. ^ "'"Winter fuel payments 'sexist. BBC News. 16 December 1999. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Profile: Harriet Harman The Times, 22 February 2009
  15. ^ "Harman gives up Lords reform role". BBC News. 16 March 2006. Retrieved 25 June 2007. 
  16. ^ "Harman intends Labour deputy bid". BBC News. 15 September 2006. Retrieved 25 June 2007. 
  17. ^ "Harman would be most popular deputy PM, says poll", The Guardian (Press Association), 27 November 2006
  18. ^ Wheeler, Brian (8 March 2007). "Interview: Harriet Harman". BBC News. Retrieved 25 June 2007. 
  19. ^ "Voting Record – Harriet Harman MP, Camberwell & Peckham". The Public Whip. Retrieved 24 June 2007. 
  20. ^ "Full Voting Record – Harriet Harman MP, Camberwell & Peckham". The Public Whip. Retrieved 24 June 2007. 
  21. ^ Elliott, Francis; Webster, Philip; Hurst, Greg (28 November 2007). "Harriet Harman may pay price for leaving her leader in lurch".  
  22. ^ Hope, Christopher (3 December 2007). "Harriet Harman faces second finances inquiry".  
  23. ^ "Harman reminded of donation rules". BBC News. 16 April 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2008. 
  24. ^ Sellman, Mark; Coates, Sam (24 June 2007). "Harriet Harman elected deputy leader of Labour Party". The Times (London). Retrieved 25 June 2007. 
  25. ^ Sellman, Mark; Coates, Sam (24 June 2007). "Harriet Harman elected deputy leader of Labour Party". The Times (London). Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  26. ^ "'"Harman took cash 'in good faith. BBC News. 27 November 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2007. 
  27. ^ Ashley, Jackie (9 March 2009). "Why pick fights with friends? Brown must ditch his pride". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 18 December 2009. 
  28. ^ "Tories still nasty, says Harman". BBC News. 27 September 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  29. ^ Pidd, Helen (2 April 2008). "Armour furore leaves Harman wounded". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2 April 2008. 
  30. ^ "Harman defends wearing stab vest". BBC News. 1 April 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2008. 
  31. ^ "Harman hack horror has blog backing Boris". The Register. 25 April 2008. 
  32. ^ The Family Way: A New Approach to Policy-making – Anna Coote, Harriet Harman, Patricia Hewitt – Google Books
  33. ^ Feminism: The Ugly Truth – Mike Buchanan – Google Books
  34. ^ Beckford, Martin (18 May 2008). "Labour: Marriage is irrelevant to public policy, says Harriet Harman". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  35. ^ Prince, Rosa (8 December 2009). "Harriet Harman: not Government's role to support marriage". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  36. ^ "Father's rooftop protest goes on". BBC News. 9 June 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  37. ^ "Fathers protest on Harman's roof". BBC News. 9 July 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  38. ^ Rouse, Beverley; Marsden, Sam (9 June 2008). "Fathers 4 Justice stage rooftop protest at Harman's home". The Independent (London). Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  39. ^ Women losing jobs twice as fast as men The Times, 25 January 2009
  40. ^ Beckford, Martin (7 March 2009). "Office for National Statistics contradicts Government again with female employment figures". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  41. ^ "Women in the Labour Market". National Statistics Online. 6 March 2009. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  42. ^ "Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Michael Scholar KCB" (PDF). Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  43. ^ "'"Harman pay gap data 'misleading. BBC News. 12 June 2009. 
  44. ^ "FoI campaigners condemn MPs' bid to hide expenses". Press Gazette. 15 January 2009. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  45. ^ Beckford, Martin (9 December 2010). "MPs' expenses: 17 MPs were re-elected after secret deals on expenses". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  46. ^  
  47. ^ Harman, Harriet (2008). Framework for a Fairer Future – The Equalities Bill (PDF). London: HMSO. p. 40. 
  48. ^ "Council of Europe – ETS no. 005 – Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms". Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  49. ^ "Harriet Harman unleashes positive discrimination". The Spectator. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  50. ^ Woolf, Marie (10 February 2008). "Harriet Harman in plan to give parties all-black shortlists". The Times (London). Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  51. ^ "Women at the Top 2005: Changing Numbers, Changing Politics? (November 2005)". Hansard Society. 
  52. ^ "McPherson S (2010) General Election 2010: Women, Fascism and Democracy". Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  53. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 26 June 2008 (pt 0004)". UK Parliament. 
  54. ^ "Labour 'men-only leadership' over". BBC News. 2 August 2009. Retrieved 2 August 2009. 
  55. ^ Raab, Dominic; Weldon, Fay (26 January 2011). "Are men victims of obnoxious feminism?". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  56. ^ "Labour Party Rule Book 2008" (PDF). The Labour Party. Retrieved 12 May 2010. When the party is in opposition and the party leader, for whatever reason, becomes permanently unavailable, the deputy leader shall automatically become party leader on a pro-tem basis. 
  57. ^ Prince, Rosa (12 May 2010). "Harriet Harman is acting leader of the Labour Party". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  58. ^ "Abbott will give male rivals a good run, says Harman".  
  59. ^ "The Shadow Cabinet". Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. "The Rt Hon Harriet Harman". House of Commons Information Office. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. 
  60. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (8 October 2010). "Shadow cabinet appointments – as it happened". The Guardian (London). 
  61. ^ Deacon, Michael (14 January 2014). "Harriet Harman's big brake". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  62. ^ Smith, Norman (1 January 1970). "Harriet Harman expresses 'regret' after Daily Mail claims". BBC News. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  63. ^ a b Mason, Rowena. "Harriet Harman rejects allegations of 1970s link to paedophile campaign". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  64. ^ "Harriet Harman expresses 'regret' over links to paedophile lobby". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  65. ^ Georgia Graham "Harriet Harman should apologise for paedophile group links, Cameron suggests", The Daily Telegraph (London), 28 February 2014
  66. ^
  67. ^ Wintour, Patrick. "Welfare bill: Labour in disarray as 48 MPs defy whips to vote no". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  68. ^
  69. ^ a b Sapsted, David (21 September 2007). "Harriet Harman avoids court over speeding".  
  70. ^ "Father's rooftop protest goes on". BBC News. 9 June 2008. Retrieved 17 January 2010. 
  71. ^ MacIntyre, Donald (20 January 1996). "Why my son will go to Grammar School". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  72. ^ Rumbelow, Helen (10 November 2007). "Harriet the plotter and the not terribly secret chamber of her old feminist friends". The Times (London). Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  73. ^ Sapsted, David (21 September 2007). "Harriet Harman avoids court over speeding". London:  
  74. ^ "Father's rooftop protest goes on". BBC News. 9 June 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  75. ^ "Harman banned for speeding".  
  76. ^ Laing, Aislinn (9 January 2010). "Harriet Harman fined over careless driving while on mobile phone". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  77. ^ Harriet Harman pleads guilty to careless driving The Times, 8 January 2010
  78. ^ "Harriet Harman faces driving with mobile prosecution". BBC News. 19 November 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  79. ^ "Harman questioned over car crash". London:  
  80. ^ Greenwood, Chris (9 January 2010). "Letting Harriet Harman off for driving with a mobile sends wrong message". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  81. ^ Harriet Harman escapes driving ban after using mobile while driving The Times, 9 January 2010
  82. ^ "In brief". The Guardian (London). 15 June 2001. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 


See also

  • Harriet Harman (1950–1982)
  • Harriet Harman MP (1982–1997)
  • The Rt. Hon. Harriet Harman MP (1997–2001)
  • The Rt. Hon. Harriet Harman QC MP (2001–)[82]


In January 2010, Harman pleaded guilty to Brake condemned the leniency of the punishment and decision to drop the charge of driving whilst using a mobile phone.[80] The judge defended the decision stating "Ms Harman's guilty plea to driving without due care and attention included her admitting that she had been using a mobile phone at the time".[81]

In 2007, Harman was issued with a £60 fixed penalty notice and given three penalty points on her licence for driving at 50 mph (80 km/h) in a temporary 40 mph (64 km/h) zone. Harman paid the fine several months late and avoided appearing at Ipswich magistrates court.[69] Harman was again caught breaking the speed limit the following April, this time in a 30 mph zone, receiving a further 3 points on her driving licence.[76]

In 2003, Harman was fined £400 and banned from driving for seven days after being convicted of driving at 99 mph (159 km/h) on a motorway, 29 mph (47 km/h) above the speed limit.[75]

Motoring convictions

Harman owns a number of houses and properties, including a house in Suffolk,[73] in addition to a home in Herne Hill, south London.[74]

Harman is a committed feminist, having said, "I am in the Labour Party because I am a feminist. I am in the Labour Party because I believe in equality."[72]

In 1996, Harman sent her younger son Joseph to St Olave's Grammar School, Orpington, a selective grammar school, whereas she had sent her elder son Harry to the Roman Catholic London Oratory School, a grant-maintained school. Harman said of St. Olave's: "This is a state school that other children in my son's class will be going to... And admission is open to every child in Southwark irrespective of money or who their parents are". In fact, whilst every child in Southwark was eligible to apply for admission to St. Olave's Grammar School, places were awarded based on academic ability. Admission was open only to those applicants who achieved the highest scores in a selective examination, offered once a year, on a Saturday, at the school site in the London Borough of Bromley. That year, 90 places were available and approximately 700 candidates took the examination.[71]

Harman married Jack Dromey in 1982 in Brent, London, after meeting him on the picket line of the Grunwick dispute in 1977; she was legal advisor to the Grunwick Strike Committee. They have two sons (born February 1983 and November 1984) and a daughter, Amy (born January 1987), with the latter having the surname "Harman".[68] Labour colleague Patricia Hewitt is godmother to one of her children.[14] She has a house in Suffolk,[69] in addition to her home in Herne Hill, south London.[70]

Personal life

While interim leader, she made the decision for Labour to abstain, rather than oppose, the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015, leading to 48 Labour MPs defying the whip.[67]

Following the 2015 General Election and Ed Miliband's resignation, Harman again became acting leader of the Labour party and Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition after announcing that she would stand down from this role once a Labour leadership election has taken place.[66]

Aftermath of the 2015 General Election

The Daily Mail disputed Harman's claim that "anybody could join the NCCL simply by paying a fee"[64] whilst the Daily Telegraph cast doubt on her assertion that the PIE had been "pushed to the margins" before Harman had joined the NCCL.[65]

In a television interview, Harman said she had "nothing to apologise for," stating "I very much regret that this vile organisation, PIE, ever existed and that it ever had anything to do with NCCL, but it did not affect my work at NCCL."[62] Harman stated that while she did support the equalisation of the age of consent for gay men she had never campaigned for the age of consent to go below the age of 16 and accused the Daily Mail of trying to make her "guilty by way of association".[63] Ed Miliband backed Harman and stated that she had "huge decency and integrity".[63]

In February 2014, Harman denied allegations that she had supported the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) when the advocacy group was affiliated with the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), while she was the pressure group's Legal Officer from 1978 to 1982. The Conservative-leaning Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph also claimed that Jack Dromey MP (her partner) and former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt had offered support to apologists for the sexual abuse of children while they were working for NCCL.

Paedophile Information Exchange allegations and response

Following Ed Miliband's election as leader, she returned to her role as Deputy Leader, shadowing Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister and with the title of Deputy Leader of the Opposition.[59] When Miliband assigned portfolios on 8 October 2010, he appointed her Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.[60] In 2010, Harman referred to Danny Alexander as a "ginger rodent" in a speech to the Scottish Labour Party conference. This was greeted with cheers and laughter from the conference, but the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party described them as gingerism and "anti-Scottish". Harman apologised for the offence caused. In 2011, Harman was moved to become Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. In 2014, she accused Nick Clegg of turning into a Tory during Prime Minister's Questions.[61]

She nominated Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, to prevent the election from being all male. But she nonetheless asserted her intention to remain neutral throughout the contest and said, "This is a very crucial period and we have got five fantastic candidates. All of them would make excellent leaders of the party."[58]

Following Brown's resignation, she quickly announced that she would remain Deputy Leader rather than standing for election as Leader. Her only public explanation was the assertion that: “You can’t run for leader at the same time as being deputy leader”.[57]

Following the resignation of Gordon Brown as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party on 11 May 2010, Harman automatically became the temporary leader of the party as well as the Leader of the Opposition, entitling her to the salary and government car that come with the role. Although she was informally described in the media as 'Acting' Leader, she was fully Leader by the terms of the party's constitution, albeit on a temporary basis, as was the case with Margaret Beckett in 1994.[56]

Return to Opposition

Harman also commissioned a report on allowing political parties to draw up all-black shortlists[50] designed to increase the number of black MPs in Westminster. A further report proposed extended the arrangement allowing all-women shortlists beyond 2015[51] which will fail to have any impact in the 2010 general election.[52] These proposals are supported by members of the three major parties, though no others allow discrimination in their shortlists.[53] Inside the Labour Party, Harman has said she does "not agree with all-male leaderships" because men "cannot be left to run things on their own"; and that, consequently, one of Labour's top two posts should always be held by a woman.[54] She had also stated that the collapse of Lehman Brothers might have been averted had it been 'Lehman Sisters'. These comments caused accusations of sexism and "insidious bigotry".[55]

[49], was of the opinion that, "The Equality Bill before parliament today gives employers the right to choose an ethnic minority candidate or female candidate over a white male, specifically because they are an ethnic minority or female."The Spectator Michael Millar, writing in [48], which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, colour, language, religion and on several other criteria.European Convention on Human Rights These changes, if made, could face a challenge under Article 14 of the [47] As part of a proposed

Equality bill

In November 2010, The Times reported that at the end of 2009 Harman had hosted a new year's house party at her second home in Suffolk with guests including Patricia Hewitt, at "least one other minister" and another MP.[46] It reported that she told guests that Gordon Brown was "hopeless" and that there were at least five members of the Cabinet who would tell Gordon Brown that he should resign.


In December 2010 it emerged that Harman was amongst 40 MPs who had secretly repaid wrongly claimed expenses between 2008 and 2010. In November 2010 Harman's parliamentary private secretary Ian Lavery had blocked a motion designed to allow the repayments to be made public.[45]

In January 2009, Harman proposed a rule change to exempt MPs' expenses from the Freedom of Information Act. Her parliamentary order aimed to remove "most expenditure information held by either House of Parliament from the scope of the Freedom of Information Act". It meant that, under the law, journalists and members of the public would no longer be entitled to learn details of their MP's expenses. Labour MPs were to be pressured to vote for this measure by use of a three line whip. Her proposal was withdrawn when the Conservative Party said they would vote against, and an online campaign by mySociety.[44] The failure of the motion led to the disclosure of expenses of British members of parliament.

MPs' expenses

In June 2009, Sir Michael Scholar, head of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote to Harman to warn her that different headline figures used by the ONS and Government Equalities Office with regards to pay differentiation between men and women might undermine public trust in official statistics. The GEO's headline figure was 23%, which was based on median hourly earnings of all employees, not the 12.8%, based on median hourly earnings of full-time employees only, used by the ONS. Scholar wrote: "It is the Statistics Authority’s view that use of the 23% on its own, without qualification, risks giving a misleading quantification of the gender pay gap".[42][43]

Harman in 2009

During the Late-2000s recession, and following a government report which suggested that women were twice as likely to lose their jobs as men and feared losing their jobs more than men, Harman stated: "We will not allow women to become the victims of this recession".[39] However, some statistics contradicted her position, including the Office for National Statistics report on the issue which stated "the economic downturn in 2008 has impacted less on women in employment than men". According to the ONS, men were losing their jobs at twice the rate of women. The Government Equalities Office insisted the ONS figures did not render pointless its efforts to help women.[40][41]

Use of statistics

In June 2008, two members of Fathers 4 Justice staged a protest on the roof of her house in Herne Hill, South East London, with a banner that read: "A father is for life not just conception." After they climbed back off the roof they were arrested by the Metropolitan Police and bailed until 16 July 2008.[36] On the morning of 9 July 2008, Fathers 4 Justice again climbed on Harman's roof with a banner that read, "Stop war on dads."[37] One of the complaints of the protesters was that Harman had refused their requests for a meeting yet she denied that they had even requested such a meeting.[38]

Harman co-authored a 1990 IPPR report "The Family Way" which stated "it cannot be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social cohesion".[32][33] In May 2008 an interview she gave to think tank Civitas Harman stated that there was "no ideal type of household in which to bring up children".[34][35]

The Family Way

In April 2008, Harman's blog was hacked and changed to state that she had joined the Conservative Party. Harman later admitted when questioned by Sky News that the incident was a result of her using "Harriet" and "Harman" as her username and password.[31]

On 1 April 2008 the Daily Mail reported that Harman had decided to wear a kevlar-reinforced stab vest while touring her Peckham constituency under police guard. On 2 April The Guardian relayed information from the Metropolitan Police that "the type of Met Vest she wore over her jacket protected her from knife attacks and bullets, and, for her at least, was optional".[29] Harman compared the decision to wearing a hard hat while touring a building site, which led the BBC's John Humphrys to respond, during an interview for BBC Radio 4, "You wear a hard hat on a building site because... there is the danger that something might drop on your head. You don't need to wear a bullet-proof vest on the streets of London, do you!" Harman told the BBC that the neighbourhood police team she was with put on their stab vests and gave her one to wear as well.[30]

Harman attacked the Conservative Party at the Labour Party Conference 2007, referring to them as the "nasty party" and suggesting that there would be little competition at the next election.[28]

When Harman, as Leader of the House of Commons, stood in for Gordon Brown during Prime minister's questions on Wednesday 2 April 2008 (due to the Prime Minister attending a NATO summit in Romania), she became the first female Labour Minister to take Prime Minister's Questions. She subsequently repeated this during Brown's absences.

Harman was known as a long term supporter of Gordon Brown and is regarded as a personal friend.[27] On 28 June 2007, after she became Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Brown was appointed Prime Minister, Harman joined Brown's Cabinet as Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Privy Seal and Minister for Women and Equality, and was also given the title of Labour Party Chair. Unlike the previous Deputy Leader, John Prescott, Harman was not given the title of 'Deputy Prime Minister'.

Gordon Brown becomes PM

In November 2007, it emerged that property developer David Abrahams' secretary Janet Kidd had donated £5,000 to Harman's successful deputy leadership bid. After an investigation by The Mail on Sunday newspaper into other donations made by people associated with Abrahams, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown's assertion that all such monies would be returned, Harman issued a statement saying she accepted the donation on 4 July "in good faith," had registered the monies with the Electoral Commission and the Register of Members' Interests, and that she "was not aware of any funding arrangements... between David Abrahams and Janet Kidd".[26]

Campaign donations

On 24 June 2007, in what was a close contest Harman was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.[24] Alan Johnson had led in all but the first of the previous rounds, but when second-preference votes had been redistributed after the fourth round, Harman stood elected with 50.43% of the vote to Johnson's 49.56%[25]

Harman did not have the support of any major unions, and helped to fund her campaign for deputy leadership by taking out a personal loan of £10,000[21] and a £40,000 extension to her mortgage.[22] Harman failed to report some donations and loans on time, and was subject to an Electoral Commission inquiry for breaches of electoral law. The commission said that her "failure to report on time is a serious matter" though the case was not handed over to the police.[23]

While she supported the Iraq War, during the Deputy Leadership campaign, she said that she would not have voted for it had she been in full possession of the facts, specifically about the lack of concrete evidence of weapons of mass destruction.[19][20]

Harman announced her intention to stand for Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party when John Prescott stood down.[16] On 27 November 2006, the Press Association reported that she had commissioned an opinion poll from YouGov which found that Harman would be the most likely potential deputy leader to increase the Labour vote at the next general election.[17] She used this point to argue that she should become the next Deputy Prime Minister in an interview with the BBC.[18]

Deputy Leadership election

On 16 March 2006, Harman relinquished her ministerial responsibilities for electoral administration and reform of the House of Lords. She stated that this was to avoid any potential conflict of interest after her husband Jack Dromey, the Treasurer of the Labour Party, announced that he would be investigating a number of loans made to the Labour Party that had not been disclosed to party officers. She retained her other responsibilities.[15]

After the 2005 general election, she became a Minister of State in the Department for Constitutional Affairs with responsibilities including constitutional reform, legal aid and court processes and she represented Lord Falconer in the House of Commons on the frontbench.

Harman made a return to the front bench after the 2001 general election, with her appointment to the office of Solicitor General, thus becoming the first female Solicitor General. In accordance with convention, she was appointed as Queen's Counsel, although she had previously had no rights of audience in the higher courts, did not obtain them and never presented a case during her time as Solicitor General, or at all.

After Labour's victory in the 1997 general election, she became Secretary of State for Social Security and the first ever Minister for Women.[12] She was given the task of reforming the Welfare State. During this time, her more notable policies included introducing a minimum income guarantee and winter fuel payments for the elderly. It was later ruled that the fuel payments policy breached European sex discrimination laws in that men had to wait five years longer to receive them than women.[13] The policy was amended so both sexes qualified at age 60. Harman was sacked from the position in 1998. According to many in the media, this was the result of a series of public rows with junior minister Frank Field, though others also cited her decision to cut benefits to lone parents as a factor.[14] Harman voted with the party on all but a few instances during its period in government.

Tony Blair as PM

Labour in Government

In 1984, Harman became a Shadow Social Services minister and served as a Shadow Health minister in 1987. After the 1992 general election she entered the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1992–1994) and later served as Shadow Employment Secretary (1994–1995), Shadow Health Secretary (1995–1996) and Shadow Social Security Secretary (1996–1997).[11]

Harry Lamborn, the Labour MP for Peckham, died on 21 August 1982. In the subsequent by-election held on 28 October 1982, Harman was elected to succeed Lamborn with 11,349 votes (50.34%), a majority of 3,931 over Social Democratic candidate Dick Taverne, a former Labour MP for Lincoln. The Conservative Party candidate was John Redwood, who came third, and went on to be elected MP for Wokingham in 1987.

Opposition Member of Parliament

[10].Security Service Act 1989 The success of the case led to enactment of the [10]

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