There are few certainties in politics, and Harriet Harman’s elevation to the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party certainly wasn't one of them. My head went into my hands on Sunday afternoon, when, no sooner had Sky News declared Alan Johnson the new incumbent, the BBC flashed something completely different across their tickertapes, announcing Harriet Harman instead. Now, I really don’t see the point in broadcasting, or suggesting, an unconfirmed story when the official result has not been announced! It bugs me somewhat that the competition between the two major news broadcasters means they have to pip each other to the post even if something is blatantly wrong!
I suspect Harman will grow on me but having witnessed her performance at four official hustings events, she just didn’t offer me anything different. Some encouraging posturing on calling for the government to apologise for Iraq (by agreeing with Jon Cruddas) seemed to play well for her, but Monday morning came and she had already found herself at the centre of a gaffe, claiming she had never wanted the government to apologise. She really needs to sort her story out, and remain consistent if she’s going to have any credibility with the Labour movement at large.
I’m glad it’s a woman too. We needed a female deputy to counter-balance Cameron’s supposed embracing of women and diversity and we have a strong idelogiocally feminist candidate to do that. I wish she’d been stronger on this in the hustings, instead of using the ‘I’m a woman and I’m from the South’ (no shit, Sherlock!) argument to constantly re-inforce her campaign. We don’t like to be patronised in the Labour Party, and we know why it is important to have gender representation. You just need to tell us why it’s important.
So, here we go, on the eve of Blair’s final departure from Downing Street we have a balanced new team in place. And hopefully some positive and interesting Cabinet appointments by the end of the week. Watch this space.