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Monday 13 July 2015

Harriet Harman - More In Sorrow

Anyone, everyone who has campaigned for a properly accountable press, and genuinely independent press regulation, has a lot of time for acting Labour leader Harriet Harman. When she stood up at the Hacked Off lobby event back in February and committed herself to doing the right thing for victims of press misbehaviour, it was not the first time she had thus spoken. Her commitment was as genuine and it was unwavering.
So, for those who were dismayed to see Young Dave and his jolly good chaps walk back into Downing Street after May’s General Election, to hear that Ms Harman was not opposing the latest tax credit cuts was yet more dismaying. It was reported by the Staggers’ political editor George Eaton that she has confirmed that Labour will not oppose the Tories’ two-child limit on tax credits. She set out her reasoning.

We won't oppose the welfare bill, we won't oppose the household benefit cap, I mean, for example, what they've brought forward in relation to restricting benefits and tax credits for people with three or more children. What we've got to do is listen to what people round the country said to us and recognise that we didn't get elected”. There is, I would contend, a logical fallacy in there somewhere.

Any thought that losing an election means that the losing party must make itself more like the winning one is not one that stands serious analysis: Labour under first John Smith, and then Tony Blair, did not look at the 1992 defeat to John Major’s Tories and declare that it would do less opposing, and try and be more like their opponents. It is no surprise that three of the party’s leadership contenders have rejected Ms Harman’s analysis.

Eaton suggests initially - although he corrects this in an update - that she also favoured Liz Kendall in the leadership contest. This is what she told the BBC’s Sunday Politics: “think not who you like and who makes you feel comfortable - think who actually will be able to reach out to the public … so that we can have a better result next time than we did last time. The point is not to have somebody who we can feel comfortable with, the point is to have somebody who can command the confidence of the country”.

The Labour Party was, for over a decade, comfortable with Tony Blair: I’d suggest that this is not an either/or choice. Nor should it be: if the grass roots don’t have confidence in their leader, it doesn’t matter how commanding their oratory, they ain’t going to get elected if the party’s footsoldiers can’t be arsed to turn out and support them.

Perhaps Ms Harman has been sold short by Eaton, but, given the brevity of the correction at the end of his article, it seems not. Tens of thousands of families are going to be worse off as a result of last week’s Budget: are Labour to simply abandon them? With signs now coming from the Tories that public sector workers will not receive their enhanced minimum wage, some may find themselves in a yet worse situation.

What, one has to ask, is the point of Labour if not to stand up for the less well-off


Anonymous said...

Is Harriet playing a deeper game though? This feels like it's designed to portray the two more central candidates for party leader as being further left than where the current leadership is, which can only help them with most of the faithful who oppose this bill. Given the near universal condemnation of the bill as well, isn't it showing whoever comes in and chooses to oppose it as being on the side of common sense, against the old party leadership which was clearly out of touch?
It's also potentially designed to cut into the support for Liz Kendall, rather than strengthening it; she now has to either back the current leaders who she's spent half her campaign slagging off, or show that she believes the same stuff as the other candidates who she's spent the other half slagging off. If Hazza favours one of the other three (probably Burnham or Cooper) this would obviously help them, or maybe she just doesn't want Kendall to win.

Anonymous said...

The time for political "games" and "manoeuvring" is long past.

We've had all that garbage since Kinnock and his "dented shield" bollocks (Of course that was before he got off to Brussels as an EU Commissioner bleating, "I've been a good boy). The only two since Wilson who had even the semblance of a conscience were Foot and Smith. All the others have been chancers. Blair was outright evil, and so were and are all his tenth rate acolytes.

Harman's behaviour doesn't surprise or dismay me in the least. She's what she's always been: New Labour, and rotten to the core with it. Shuffling around "tactically" with various votes is precisely what undermined the Labour Party in the first place.

Stuff all that. And stuff the likes of Harman in the same file as Blair, Brown, Milburn, Darling and all the other corrupt hangers on. That's the same file containing everyone with "tory" stamped on their forehead.

If this country is to avoid sliding into the same proto-fascist rat pit as the Yanks we need genuine, determined socialist policies, not the kind of deliberately half-arsed muck of the last generation. We can start by binning Harman, Kendall and Cooper all at the same time - leave them in place and matters will only get worse. Much worse.

David Lindsay said...

I reckon that Harman might be cleverer than she seems, although I admit that that is setting the bar pretty low. She came up through the Hard Left, and you never quite lose that. She is of the same generation as Jeremy Corbyn, and in their early years in Parliament they were on all of the same sides. Deep down, in her heart of hearts...