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Live webchat with Harriet Harman MP on Tues Nov 25th 1-2pm

(292 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 21-Nov-08 18:23:10

We're pleased to announce that, as part of our ongoing Home Front debate, we've invited Harriet Harman MP to drop by MNHQ for a live webchat on Tuesday November 25th at 1pm.

As well as being Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the House of Commons, Harriet is Secretary of State for Equalities and Minister for Women.

Please join us to put your questions to Harriet on anything from the Government's plans for flexible working to Gordon's performance in the present economic crisis.

And, as usual, you're welcome to post any questions here in advance if you can't make it on the day.

policywonk Fri 21-Nov-08 18:48:50

Ooohhhh fab. I think she's done some really brilliant things over the last couple of years. All Hail Harriet.

Harriet, did Gordon force you to do a deal with the Ulster Unionists on the abortion vote?

smallwhitecat Fri 21-Nov-08 19:11:21

Message withdrawn

herbietea Fri 21-Nov-08 19:47:53

Message withdrawn

Doobydoo Fri 21-Nov-08 20:09:33

Do you feel your husband has hindered you at all?
Would you say that you are a Socialist?

Sickofhorses Fri 21-Nov-08 20:16:48

Harriet, on mumsnet we have a number of issues that are of vital imporatance and we need to know how you stand on these issues. So, without any political evading the questions, can you manage a yes or no answer to the following:

Enid Blyton
Mums staying at home
Parent and toddler spaces
Reading to children at night
Homework for primary age children
Private schools

Thank you

LittleBella Fri 21-Nov-08 20:35:04

Harriet, what are you doing to ensure that sexism and mysogyny are perceived as being as socially unacceptable as racism and homophobia? In playgrounds now, if a child makes a racist remark to another child, that incident is logged on their school record but a sexist remark is not treated with the same seriousness. If Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross had left racist messages on Andrew Sachs' ansaphone, there would have been no question of Jonathan Ross returning to the BBC, but sexist remarks are fine... you see where I'm going with this. Why isn't sexism taken as seriously as racism in education, in the media, in the workplace and in society in general, and what can we do about that?

cmotdibbler Fri 21-Nov-08 21:16:52

Harriet - what do you think of the Norwegian legislation requiring all companies to have at least one woman on their board of directors ?

dittany Fri 21-Nov-08 21:25:06

Hi Harriet, how do you feel about your government not making paying for sex illegal but instead only making it illegal to pay for sex with someone who has been trafficked or pimped? Isn't this going to make it very difficult for the police to enforce the law? Do you think we'll see many prosecutions of men who have paid for sex for rape of trafficked or pimped women?

Do you think there will come a point where British politicians will take the same view as those in Sweden and decide that people's bodies aren't there to be bought or sold for someone else's enjoyment?

tortoiseshellWasMusicaYearsAgo Fri 21-Nov-08 21:55:08

Harriet - did you read the Alistair Campbell diaries? I'm halfway through, and would love to know how much spin there is on them - either generally or personally to you?

Bubble99 Fri 21-Nov-08 22:02:52

Harriet. Could you run a series of prime time adverts to show that domestic violence is wrong and how much it damages children caught in the middle (or on the receiving end) of it.

In the same way that the NSPCC have done, could you get these adverts seen by the many women (and sometimes men) who are isolated in abusive relationships. Although there are many services and helplines, it is often the very people who need them that don't have the mindset or confidence to use them.

And what's it like having Peter back? wink

myredcardigan Fri 21-Nov-08 23:23:33

When are we going to reach the stage where the years maternity leave is allowed to be taken by each partner as they see fit?

Perhaps women take an obligatory 6wks then a couple split it according to their own family dynamics and finances giving reasonable notice to their employers.

I believe if employers thought that a 30something man was just as likely to take mat leave as a 30something woman, this would help eliminate sex discrimination.

Thank you smile

myredcardigan Fri 21-Nov-08 23:27:17

That should read, sex discrimination at interview and in the workplace.

PhantomOfTheChocolateCakeAvena Sat 22-Nov-08 00:47:00

Hello Harriet. I too have a childcare question. I understand that the government wishes for as many people to be at work as possible in order to aid the economy, however, many of their children attend daycare settings where they are being cared for by inexperienced, young staff that are only just out of childhood themselves. They are often paid pittance as a 'training salary' and the staff turnover is high. What concerns me is the effect this has on the children. They are, in effect, spending more time with the young staff than their own parents and, due to the high staff turnover, are being taught by way too many people. This leaves some of them confused lacking behaviour skills and lacking attention skills, however, I do acnowledge that there are some very good nurseries.

Is it not better for these children to have one stable person caring for them in a loving and nurturing environment? Mass childcare doesn't suit all children, yet the government would rather pay for these children to attend nurseries than give their parents some extra money so they can stay at home. Is this not counter productive? The government must be loosing money through the childcare system, why not just pay a parent to stay at home so they can nurture their child? Wrap around childcare does nothing to help the most important relationship that a child has, the one with it's parent. Even in a child's teenage years a parent's attention and time is so important yet children's welfare has always been on the back burner as the economy always comes first. Could the government do better? I think so, I would like you to tell me how.

I would also like to know how the government plans to tackle the inequality that women still face in this country? It is 2008 and women are still under-represented in the workforce, they are still paid less and still discriminated against. All of the legislative measures that have been put into place has done little to alter the attitudes towards women that have been in place for not just years or decades, but centuries.

I would like to see more provisions for children, teenagers and the elderly. More youth clubs for them to attend in the evenings and weekends to keep children and teenagers off the streets and to rebuild our communities.
The elderly would be able to utilise these during the day. As families move away from their extended families it is often the elderly members that suffer from the isolation and lonliness that is the result. What is the governments plan to support the members of our society that have aided our nation through world wars? That have spent many, many years of their life building our country, educating our children and caring for our sick? As a government you should be giving these people enough support so they can spend their retirement warm, fed and feeling valued. I don't see alot of this and am asking if there is something that the government can do.

I do have more but will quit nagging for now. I would be more than happy to take you for a coffee and a chat though grin

EachPeachPearMum Sat 22-Nov-08 00:47:34

Are we allowed to ask personal questions?

PhantomOfTheChocolateCakeAvena Sat 22-Nov-08 01:03:46

I think so EachPeachPearMum.

Another one for you Ms Harman. Is the government willing to do something to make sure the energy companies reduce the price of gas and electricity to their customers now and wholesale prices fell weeks ago? They make massive profits at the expense of us all, surly this needs to stop!

As a shareholder of my bank, I would like to see them reduce their charges, reduce their profits and not pay the idiots that run the banks rediculous bonuses. We have homeless sleeping on the streets. I find this shameful that we are unable to support our poor yet allow the wealthy to become welthier, despite huge mistakes. I would also like to recieve money from the bank for the shares that the government has used taxpayer's (me!) money to bail out.

Bubble99 Sat 22-Nov-08 07:18:54

Rather than pouring billions into the banks, wouldn't it have made more sense to write off all or a large part of domestic mortgages. This would boost the economy as people would have money to spend.

UnquietDad Sat 22-Nov-08 10:57:03

Harriet - do you want to be Prime Minister? Please don't say "at the moment Gordon Brown is doing a great job and I'm very happy in my current job blah blah blah." We know all that. Do you want to be Prime Minister one day, some time, after Gordon is gone? Also, can I have a quote from you for my book?

LittleBella Sat 22-Nov-08 11:20:25

Oh yes I've got one about housing, it's seen as all doom and gloom because house prices are plummeting, but in some areas, to buy a modest 3 bed family house in a crap area, you would need to borrow 10 times the average family income to pay the mortgage. If it plumments to only needing 7 or 8 times your average family income, house prices still aren't low enough for normal people on normal wages to afford them without a massive struggle and/ or over-borrowing.

Can that really be right? Can we not organise housing better in this country?

Saturn74 Sat 22-Nov-08 12:57:29

Harriet, your titles of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Leader of the House of Commons, Secretary of State for Equalities and Minister for Women, suggest that you must be quite busy.

How many hours a week do you work?
How much holiday do you get each year?

Why aren't Secretary of State for Equalities, and Minister for Women considered important enough to be full time roles?

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Sat 22-Nov-08 19:15:19

How are you going to make it easier for parents of disabled children to work?

I have a 9 year old severely autistic son, I cannot access after school or holiday care for him. There is none in my city. There are no plans for care that is suitable for him.

I currently work but in a very flexible job (actually its a funded PhD- my second funded PhD). Funding will end in 2 years time then I have no idea how I can find suitable work and care for him from 3.30 when the bus gets home and every holiday.

Also I do not think it fair I lose my carers allowance because I am studying full time. I do exactly the same amount of caring as I always have. Leaving work early to care for my son, then picking up work again in the evening when he's gone to bed (then getting up from 3am to be with him because he's woken up). I at least get paid for studying but this rule prevents parents of disabled children from being able to return to study.

From the Guardian 2007:

"Almost all families with disabled children are suffering from financial difficulties, according to a report published today.

Many struggle with the extra costs of raising disabled children, which is calculated to be three times higher than other children, and they face barriers to working, said the Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) campaign, an alliance of Mencap, Contact a Family, Council for Disabled Children and the Special Educational Consortium.

More than nine in 10 (93%) families reported some form of financial difficulty, with only 6% saying they were comfortably off.

The report said more than one in five families with disabled children cannot afford to feed their family properly. Such families are 50% more likely to be in debt than others and 50% less likely to be able to afford new clothes or school outings when compared with other families."

PhantomOfTheChocolateCakeAvena Sat 22-Nov-08 19:19:14

Oh, another one. Can't the government use all those empty houses that have had compulsory purchase orders placed on (ie, Manchester), get local companies to fix them up and then rent them out as social housing to families in need? Private tenants are often in sub-standard housing which is expensive. The waiting list for social housing is very long and is seems silly to have so many houses standing empty. It would cost less money to redevelop them rather than knock them all down and start again.

myredcardigan Sat 22-Nov-08 19:56:38

Can I ask something else I feel stongly about?

Why isn't child benefit means tested in the way that other benefits are? We're fortunate enough to be in the position of not needing the CB we receive for our 3kids. So what do we do? We put it in a saving account for each of them. I know so many couples who do the same. So in effect the government are funding nice little savings accounts for thousands of already fortunate children.

Wouldn't this money be better redistributed to those families that need it?

AuraofDora Sat 22-Nov-08 20:17:47

Hi Harriet
Last sunday i heard a shocking statement on Bremner Bird & Fortune, did you per chance happen watch it?
They stated that the UK national debt (excluding personal credit / mortgages)
per household was now £96,000...shock

are we, as a country, heading for bankruptcy?
would appreciate your take on this..

and thanks for bailing out the banks, the one true act of socialism by your government wink

luv aura xxx

soapbox Sat 22-Nov-08 23:58:19

Are you a Ms or a Mrs and why?

soapbox Sat 22-Nov-08 23:59:27

You are often described as being somewhat less intellectually able than many of your colleagues - how do you cope with this and how would you rebut that assertion?

EachPeachPearMum Sun 23-Nov-08 00:01:31

blush all the questions I want to ask are personal and on reflection perhaps a little nasty.
Ms Harman doesn't have a particularly blemish-free conscience, I imagine, and my questions all seem to be around the issue of how someone born into a life of privilege can truly understand equality issues.

soapbox Sun 23-Nov-08 00:01:59

Is this recession another nail in the coffin of equality of opportunity for women?

I personally have witnessed many women with childcare responsibilities (how do fathers get away without this tag?) being rather closer than others at the front of the redundancy queue!

tatt Sun 23-Nov-08 11:01:48

Will the labour party end its opposition to grammar schools and allow them to expand if local parents wish for this? The main inequality in this country is still class. Grammar schools were more effective in promoting social equality than a system in which a few are educated privately and the lucky move to where there are good schools.

My second question is about encouraging those who wish to work with children. You have created a professional group to work with children who now wish to stop volunteers limiting their career prospects. Give parents a notional budget to provide support for their children and let them "spend" it on guides or scouts or the local youth club rather than having overpaid professionals who deliver very little. As it stands we don't have activities that bring children together, they are separated in their spare time as they are at school.

Poohbah Sun 23-Nov-08 15:19:14

Labour promised free education for 3 years old, yet in Powys, funding for 3 year olds has been cut by £205 per child with the possibility that the grants will be removed altogether. My playgroup may be forced to close.

Powys is a rural area with non existent public transport and some of the lowest paid workers in the country, therefore, closing local playgroups will hit the poorest people hardest. A local playgroup in a rural area provides a tremendous amount of support to local women who may not otherwise have social and practical support.

What will you do to ensure that funding for early years education is safeguarded?

Will you please tell Jane Hutt, Minister for education, WAG, to give us back our grant money?


PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Sun 23-Nov-08 16:39:21

I'd also like a reply to the question asked by JimJams, I have spent 3 years studying, one year left for my PGCE but my son needs to transfer to a SN unit so I am captive to the bus and lack of childcare provision.

I'd also like to ask whether you think carer provision should be reviewed; caring is something many women will undertake during their lifetimes (men too, though it does often become a female role) and yet we recieve £50pw (counted against tax credits as income) approximately to compensate for the possibly successful and enjoyable career we would otherwise have chosen, not to mention the lack of independence / choice that we have . If we chose to (not that most of us would) hand our children to foster parents, those foster carers would be paid a good deal more.

We are saving the Government a fortune yet treated as invisible and insignificant, with a battle for respite / support which a great many of us never win.

Doobydoo Sun 23-Nov-08 17:21:14

Could you tell us why you voted FOR the war in Iraq?
Could you also tell us why you voted AGAINST an investigation into the war in Iraq?

needmorecoffee Sun 23-Nov-08 19:06:22

Why don't disabled people under 60 get a Winter Fuel Allowance. Despite Ministers illusions, DLA is NOT stretchy and doesn't cover everything a disabled person needs. My dd is 4 with severe cerebral palsy. Her DLA does not cover the extra expenses she has (ketogenic diet, equipment, cooked food, taxi fares to hospital etc) but she is in danger of dying or getting veruy sick this winter because we cannot afford to heat the house. Last night it was 3 C in the bedroom where she and I sleep. (No heating nor insulation up there)
But in-laws who are wealthy get WFA and go ski-ing with it.
Why does the Govt ignore the plight of disabled children?
And what Peachy said. If I handed my daughter to the State the taxpayer would be looking at 2000 pounds a week to care for her. Yet we are paid £50 a week Carers Allowance. This is meant to compensate my husband for his loss of income when he gave up work. Scuse me while I laugh.

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Sun 23-Nov-08 20:39:22

If our family gets to the stage where we can't cope and ds1 goes into a residential school it will cost the State £200,000 a year. I really resent losing my carers allowance because I'm studying (as well as caring).

glitterfairy Sun 23-Nov-08 20:44:05

Dear Harriet, I wanted to ask:

1. Why cant payments be made retrospectively if a non resident parent has been working but the resident parent only finds out by accident? At present the claim starts on the day the other parent mentions it which is grossly unfair.

2. Why is it not a legal requirement for a non resident parent to have to inform the CSA when their circumstances change and they take up work or earn more?

In both these cases if these situations were resolved children and (mostly) women some child poverty issues could be addressed in families who are separated. As a mother whose x husband has been extremely uncooperative over payments over a number of years I find it incredible that the inland revenue has teeth which the CSA does not.

glitterfairy Sun 23-Nov-08 20:46:48

Oh and I cannot come on this webchat as I will be at an interview for a higher paid job in order to support my three kids regardless of what their father refuses to do. angry

VeniVidiVickiQV Sun 23-Nov-08 23:36:44

Do you think the Government is doing enough towards helping women breastfeed their babies, and for as long as they want to? What do you think of the Bounty packs that are handed out to mothers-to-be/new mothers? Do you boycott Nestle?

Why is the tax credits system (still) such a shambles, and why can't it be linked with information held on Child benefit and PAYE to save the burden of form filling and sending off applications from parents? Everyone earning and with children has their childrens information on record for Child Benefit purposes, and they all submit either a tax return/self assessment or have a P60/P14 submitted each year. Tax codes are issued with great ease when a change of circumstances is indicated. Why does it need to be so complicated for working parents?

Would you like to see equality for women to mean that they are respected and rewarded for choosing to stay at home to look after pre-school children as well as those that choose to go back to work?

Candlewax Mon 24-Nov-08 00:17:34

Hello Harriet

I ask you this is all seriousness.

My LEA want to place my Asperger son in a residential school for children with severe learning difficulties and communication difficulties (mostly non-verbal).

My son has an IQ of 120, is definitely verbal, he just suffers social and communication difficulties because of his diagnosis. He is capable of eventually going to university and that is what he wants.

My son has a history of suicial ideation and is currently receiving medication for clinical depression.

He has told us that he would rather kill himself then go to the school they want him too. There are no intellectual peers he could relate to nor any pupils whom he could converse with on the same level as him, he is too high for the.

They wish to send him to that school rather than an Asperger specific school because "it would be an in efficient use of public resources".

What is the ceiling price on a child's life and a child's future?

Our Tribunal is on Thursday.

PootyApplewater Mon 24-Nov-08 01:13:12

How do you feel about being a major player in a government that has failed the children of this nation so badly, and in so many ways?

Despite promising otherwise, you have allowed the rot in our state education system to spread.
You fail many children with SENs to a devastating degree.
Social services are overstretched and under-resourced.
NHS waiting times for appointments with Educational Psychologists, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists etc are often so long that the difficulties of the child have intensified dramatically by the time the appointment arrives.
Specialist Language Units and Specialist Behaviour Support Units are being closed, leaving the pupils with alternative placements that are at best inappropriate, and at worst, damaging.
Many children are not receiving dental treatment because there are no NHS dentists available in their local area any longer.

In my opinion, it doesn't appear to be a legacy to be proud of.
It will require a huge dose of Labour spin for the history books to look kindly on this political period.

I voted for you. Twice.
I wish I'd kept my receipt - I'd be demanding a refund.

Not fit for purpose.

RightsMatter Mon 24-Nov-08 01:32:21

Why did you remove benefits from single parents? This made things worse for women and put us in penury.
Why don't you concentrate on chasing non-resident men who don't pay for their families?
Why do you waste time on morality over prostitute's clients instead of practicality and making things better for sex workers?
Sort out the CSA not blokes who pay!
I will never vote for a female Labour politician. Your misguided approach gave them a bad name.

HarrietHarman Mon 24-Nov-08 10:43:14


GreenMonkies Mon 24-Nov-08 12:01:53

Why do I have to send my children to school/nursery when really I think they should be at home because they aren't well? Why is "Carers Leave" at my managers discretion and tied into the number of sick days I have had, and not a paid right, calculated on the number of children you have. Last year chicken pox wiped out all 6 of the day I was "allowed", and I had to use annual leave and unpaid leave (when I ran out of annual leave due to covering school holidays) when my childeen were not well enough to go to school/nursery.

When will hospital maternity units stop providing bottles of ready made (branded) formula and instead spend the money this costs on training every midwife, doctor and support worker in good breastfeeding support (and proper in depth training, not just couple of days glossing over the basics and teaching them to chant "Breast is Best")?

When will nurseries be able to offer a govt subsidised discount to parents who provide breastmilk and washable nappies?

When will refuse recycling also include seperating used disposable nappies into yellow "clinical waste" bags and households be charged for the disposal of these yellow bags?

That'll do for now. I'm sure I'll think of more!!!

VeniVidiVickiQV Mon 24-Nov-08 13:34:04

Ooh yes - I'd like an answer on the sorry state of paediatric and educational speech therapy and paediatric physiotherapy.

My daughter was able to access pre-school speech therapy, but as soon as she started Reception class she was 'handed over' to the school speech therapy service and has yet to see the speech therapist to be assessed, and now is a term into Year 1.

The hearing impairment service visits her at least twice a term to check her hearing aids and yet nothing is done for her speech, despite being required to "sound out" some words for reading. It's utterly bonkers!

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Mon 24-Nov-08 14:37:24

'When will refuse recycling also include seperating used disposable nappies into yellow "clinical waste" bags and households be charged for the disposal of these yellow bags?' probably when nione of us parents of sn have touse disposables for eternity? hope so anyway. After 5 years with ds3 and counting i'd be sellig my soul to the wasted dept otherwise. And thanks for the idea but yes I dou use washables on ds4. School couldnt take them for ds3 if I'd wanted.

<<and yes I did want that on here so the Secretary sees it. Yes indeed, for MN is one of the few places the sn community is in possession of a strong voice>>

herbietea Mon 24-Nov-08 14:58:40

Message withdrawn

Swedes Mon 24-Nov-08 15:32:21

Harriet - During the Deputy Leadership campaign you claimed that you would not have voted in favour of the Iraq War if you had "been in full possession of the facts, specifically about the non-existence of weapons of mass destruction". You clearly feel you were mislead. Why did you then go on to vote against an investigation into the Iraq War? Do you not think Parliament being mislead is worthy of investigation?

I think Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott make a lovely couple. Which Conservative MP would you like to cosy up with on Andrew Neil's This Week sofa?

PhantomOfTheChocolateCakeAvena Mon 24-Nov-08 17:38:26

Hi Harriett.
I am a radiography student and get an NHS bursary which I have to suppliment through working aswell because I can't support my child on how much the bursary is. Can't we and other healthcare students recieve a real wage as we often work shifts, the same as the paid staff. As a healthcare student we are often used as back up when the wards are understaffed, it's the students that do the running around which does nothing for the education we need to be able to do the job. I have to work to suppliment my bursary and am often very tired as a result. Does the government want good nurses/doctors/radiographers etc or do them want average ones that couldn't devote as much time to their studies that they needed to because they needed to survive?

Can't you pay us some more please? It's really hard to support my family on 7K when we have expenses for the course (travel/books/printing etc) to fund. I'm trying to do something to benefit the country and do a worthwhile job but as a student, I don't feel valued enough by the government. I would like to spend my spare time with my son, not working. Also, why are we not allowed to claim working tax credit as a bursary student? Healthcare courses are more demanding than other courses, our holidays are alot shorter and we attend Uni alot more. The placements in the hospitals are full time, working the same shifts as the staff. If we were entitled to claim working tax credit then this would help alot of student parents out of debt and would mean that parents like me wouldn't have to work alongside the course.

LadyMuck Mon 24-Nov-08 17:51:12

Alistair Darling has today managed to balance his budget with the announcement of an extra £5bn "additional value for money savings" in public spending in each of 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Why was he previously content to spend this extra £5bn per annum if it could be cut so quickly (and perhaps conveniently)? How much public spending over the last 10 years could have benefited from a value for money review?

GreenMonkies Mon 24-Nov-08 18:25:41

Peachy, I think parents of SN kids would have the disposable nappy fee waived, well, they would if I ran the world any way..... wink

smallwhitecat Mon 24-Nov-08 18:43:39

Message withdrawn

Poohbah Mon 24-Nov-08 18:49:46

Agree with Jimsjams. Mums of disabled children need more support both financially and in order to be able to work or study.

Mums on here frequently complain that they can't access Speech and Language Therapists, Physio's and OT's for their children, however, as an OT with 10 years experience and having moved after having a baby, I have not been able to find work as an OT as all the jobs are for full time basis.

Why do parents have to wait 26 weeks to ask for flexible work? Surely this is discriminatory against women who need to move jobs after having their children?

LadyMuck Mon 24-Nov-08 18:55:24

smallwhitecat, the op invited questions on anything. If Harriet had a serious department then she would have a budget which presumably would be facing substantial cuts value for money reviews.

bagsforlife Mon 24-Nov-08 19:21:45

How do you justify sending your child to a grammar school when the Labour party strongly disagrees with selective education? (sorry, someone had to ask it....) Same question would have been put to Diane Abbott and private sector education for her child.

Having said that, I admire you greatly for even using the state system at all, most MPs don't.

brightonrock2008 Mon 24-Nov-08 20:46:01

Please urge your collegues to rethink forcing
lone parents back to work.Many jobs require
after school hours and weekend shift work, what effect is this going to have on the next generation of children with only one significant adult in thier lives that they see for a handful of hours a week!!!
This will not end child poverty but create a
massive social problem.If the goverment wants to create capital how about challenging
corporate tax evaders rather than depriving innocent children of parental support and guidance.Enough of 19th century right wing attitudes to social policy!My labour vote will be lost if there is not an end to this lone parent bullying!!!

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 00:07:29

It seems I have made five mistakes according to the government.1. getting married, 2. having children, 3. owning my own house, 4. having a degree & 5. becoming a teacher.
If I had not got married I would be receiving over £1000 a month in benefits and living rent free, if I had not had children I would not be scared about bringing up black boys in London, if I hadn't bought a house or gone to university I would not be in debt,If I hadn't become a teacher I wouldn't have suffered from depression or been falsely accused of assault.
My question is- How can you convince me that my life is the better option? The fact is, your government is not doing anything to help people like me.

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 07:13:08

Message withdrawn

Cammelia Tue 25-Nov-08 09:43:24

Dear Ms Harman

We knew things were bad when Peter Lord Mandelson was brought back into the Cabinet.

It is clear that he is there for one purpose only, to attempt to spin Labour through the next election.

I've only got one question for you, "Do you think the electorate are stupid?"

Bramshott Tue 25-Nov-08 09:53:07

Ooh, there are some good questions here! Well done Mumsnet for having Harriet Harman on! See you at 1.00 all!

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 10:20:57

Herbieteas question related- as parents of disabled children we will now gwt a one off fuel payment, thank you. Why is this not on offer to adults with disabilities?
Do you imagine the riosk of pneumonia to someone with CP or the effects of being housebound on someone with ASD or mobility issues ends at 16?

Would it be sensible for councils to provide decent grants for washable nappies rather than tax / limit bin collections? I know some do, many do not including ours.

With regards to caring and studying, I am not certain finance is the key; my childcare grant at University covered my costs. Its the simple basic lack of provision.

Getting social services to provide childcare for disabled children would be self funding in terms of taxes recovered from working parents / benefits savings but it seems Social Services are not interested in supporting anyone not on the brink of colapse, and only help if they think they are at risk of having a child to find foster care for. I couldn't even get respite for the day of delivery of my baby and had to give birth downstairs whilst my autistic boys and their sibling were upstairs- thank goodness for the doula (extra expense), night and quick births!

Jux Tue 25-Nov-08 10:24:01

Hi Harriet, do you not feel that 'the oldest profession' is called that for a reason: it's been around for a long time and isn't going to go away? Isn't Labour's latest announcement on prostitution merely going to make life even harder for prostitutes by driving it even further underground? Can we all stop pretending that sex doesn't happen and that those who want to/have to pay for it should be able to do so? If we could get prostitution out of the world of criminality then it would be a whole lot healthier.

Love2dance Tue 25-Nov-08 11:16:02

Major changes have been announced in tax policy. As a self-employed (barrister) mum doing not particularly highly paid work with high overheads (£650 plus 16% of my fees to chambers each month) and a husband who earns less than I do, life is a struggle (and we are better off than many others).

I appreciate and understand that taxes must rise to fund concessions such as the reduction in VAT, but given the widely acknowledged problems for working mothers (retention in the professions, lower pay, downgrading of status etc.) why does no consideration appear to have been given to tax breaks for child care?

This would also be a way to support single parents without penalising them. Don't you think a golden opportunity has been missed?

Jux Tue 25-Nov-08 11:25:34

If you were to legalise all illegal drugs, you would 'win the war' against them. The drug barons and dealers would then either have to find something else to do or wind up paying tax by going legit. You would be able to impose quality control, rake in more on VAT, and do some real research on the effects. You would also be able to educate people on the effects of drugs both short-term and long-term, as well as on the safest way to take them, what sort of indications to look out for vis a vis bad reactions/problems. If drugs are legal they will lose appeal to some people who take them as a form of rebellion. Is it not better to have all this out in the open; people will always take drugs, like people will always use prostitutes. These things will never go away.

Saz36 Tue 25-Nov-08 11:53:39

Hi Harriet - my husband and I have both chosen to put our careers on the back burner and lose some days at work so that we share the care of our DC. I accept that we are in a fortunate position to have both supportive employers and enough money between us to be able to lose a whole salary. When is the government going to recognise that financially supporting parents who want to stay at home and look after their children is as valid as financially supporting parents who want/need to work and choose to put their children into childcare.

tortoiseshellWasMusicaYearsAgo Tue 25-Nov-08 12:18:44

Can you please explain to someone who isn't particularly money-minded how much you need to be earning to be hit by Alistair Darling's measures announced today. I have heard varying reports of 19k (Tories), 40k (John Humphreys), 100k (AD). Which is correct please?

JoolsToo Tue 25-Nov-08 12:19:13

Harriet, funny isn't it how when it comes to YOUR children a state selective grammar school fits the bill?

How about giving every parent that opportunity?

“It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.”

bythepowerofgreyskull Tue 25-Nov-08 12:26:58

I would like to ask a question, why if I gave my child to someone else to look after would my husband get to buy childcare vouchers yet because I choose to look after the children we don't get anything. the loss of my income isn't huge but it is significant to us, I don't want to pay someone else to look after the children I am capable of looking after.

cmotdibbler Tue 25-Nov-08 12:44:58

In the light of your speech to the WI today, why do you not feel it more important to get the police to close down known brothels and massage parlours ? They trade openly and with public signage, but yet never seem to be visited by the police, let alone shut down.

As a WOHM (and WOHD) we'd appreciate having a tax allowance that could be shared between us (or transferred as the married couples allowance was)that might offset our childcare costs. And for those parents where one chooses to SAH, the tax saving for the working parent would give extra income for the SAHP.

EachPeachPearMum Tue 25-Nov-08 12:45:17

tort everyone will be hit by the 0.5% on NI sad

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 12:48:52

Hi everyone. It's great to chat to you today. and please bear with me as I'm not the world's greatest typist!

My Red Cardigan. For very well-off families taking time out of work with the children is not a problem. But we want to help parents take as much time out of work as they feel the child needs - that's why we've doubled maternity pay and leave. And we've introduced paid paternity leave too. Fathers as well as mothers can use the right to request flexible work if they have a child up to age 6 and in April next year we'll extend that to parents with a child up to 16. We will bring in 26 weeks additional parental leave. This will also give fathers the right to take leave adn statutory pay if the mother returns to work after 6 months but before the end of her maternitly leave and pay period. This is to give parents more choice in sharing child care and work. This will be before june 2010.

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 12:54:29

Hi Saz36, Veni Vidi Vicky QV and Herbitea, The people who find it hardeest to take the time they need with their children are the people who are struggling to make ends meet. That's why we've brought in tax credits and a national minimum wage. If one parent can earn more then the other can stay at home. Using public money, it must be right to direct it towards those who most need help. We are not dictating who should work and who should stay at home - just wanting everyone to have the greatest choice. But we also don't think its good for children to be brought up in a household where no-one is working or even looking for work. that's why we are requiring lone parents to look for work which suits their family arrangements.

Hi Harriet.
What do you think of the police being given taser guns?

Also, didn't you think the loose women were a bit, shall we say 'ignorant' in the political sense.

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 12:59:22

Message withdrawn

JoolsToo Tue 25-Nov-08 13:01:23

this government is failing

full stop!

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:02:15

Message withdrawn

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 13:02:49

Hi cmotdibbler,

We do want the police to be raiding brothels where they suspect women are being held against their will. and running a brothel is illegal. but we allso want to clamp down on the "demand side" of the evil trade of human trafficking. Its not just the trafficker and the victim - the person who makes the whole exploitative trade continue is the man who pays.
And Jux, just because something has been around for a long time does not mean we have to put up with it. the same could be said for domestic violence. anyway, what's happening now is very different. 80% of the women in these brothels are from abroad and have been brought here - mostly - under false pretences told they will get a good job in a bar or a hotel. And it's serious organised crime of international gangs who do gun and drug dealing as well as trading in women. when i was solicitor general i saw a case where a woman was sold in a supermarket car park by one gang to another for £6,000. This is modern day slavery and we're going to do something about it. And Rights Matter, I just don't agree that being a "sex worker" is a reasonable choice for women. surely we can aspire to more than that relations between men and women can be commercialised sex. This is the 21st century for heavans sake!

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 13:06:32

'This is modern day slavery and we're going to do something about it'

totally agree

because these workers are in the sex industry its all to easy to look away; in any other sector they'd be labelled as victims of slvery and the world would step in with cries of unacceptable.

Slavery is wrong wjether on the basis of colour, nationlity, religion or naivety in the sex market.

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:08:45

Message withdrawn

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 13:09:01

You seriously think that tax credits is enough to enable one parent to stay at home? If you are lucky enough to have twins like me you only get an amount per birth not per child. that is unfair and i have had to stay at home because i cant afford childcare in London. we are not entitled to the child care element. as i said earlier this would not be the case if we had not got married. How is this fair. dont you think you are discouraging people from getting married. do you really believe that all those parents who claim to be single parents really are?

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 13:09:02


after the chat is over please would you log on from home and read the special needs, lone parents and other sections? There's so much of life on here and your Government could learn so much.

cali Tue 25-Nov-08 13:09:40

Every week there seems to be some article or report on the shortage of Neonatal nurses and the difficulties in retention of staff in neonatal units.

I have over 10 years experience as a Neonatal Nurse and although I am currently working, I will soon have to give up a career that I enjoy.

This is because I have 2 young children and it is becoming increasingly difficult to do the 12.5 hour shifts that I have to work and arrange child care.

My husband and I, unfortunately do not have the ability to share child care. He is in the armed forces and out of the next 16 months, will be away for 12 months.

Some employers say that they offer flexible working but then when this is requested, employees are then informed that it is not in the interests of the service to offer flexible working arrangements.

What can the Government do to help families in a similar situation as ours?

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:10:47

Message withdrawn

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:11:44

Surely immigration has a greater part to play in this than anyone else?

These people are arriving here - most likely illegally, and clearly not being processed properly, or followed up properly.

I dont feel you have answered my question with regard to women staying at home.

Could you also address my other 3 points please?

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 13:13:02

Pooty Applewater and Candlewax and Needmore coffee.....The whole attitude to disabled people is changing - at long last. And it starts with a recognition that - like all children - disabled children have a right to acheive their full potential. And that means a big focus on education for children with special needs. And we're going to strengthen the law to ensure that all public agencies, like local authorities and health services make sure that they are doing everything possible for disabled people in their communities and as employers as well. I do think it's worth contacting your local councillor if you are not getting the services or choices that you need for your or your child.
When it comes to heating - the financial support for disabled people is set at a level to include costs like heating. And disabled people can get free help with insulation to cut their heating costs.

JoolsToo Tue 25-Nov-08 13:13:30

The finally parting will be

"we will listen and we will learn"

soundbite of the decade

cali Tue 25-Nov-08 13:14:52

Should also add, we don't qualify for tax credits and we can not afford for me to stay at home.

This is especially true after the pre budget announcement. The more you earn, the greater the penalty.

revjustabout Tue 25-Nov-08 13:14:52

Are you a secret Mumsnetter? grin

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:15:01

As for Tax Credits - I'm not currently receiving any. This is because of a monumental cock up nearly 5 years ago now that means I've been paying off a whopping 4k overpayment that HMRC made that wasnt my fault. THey verified it twice. It got spent. Then they asked for it back. I appealed against it. Twice. They refused. So, no, I cant access tax credits to assist with our earnings, and, lets face it a joint income of 20k in London vs a joint income of 20k in lincolnshire or such like is a completely different kettle of fish.

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:16:54

Harriet - I've met and spoken with Joan Ryan with regard to the Special Educational Needs in our area. She has told me that I need to keep chasing up services, and that there is a lack of Speech Therapists nationwide. There is not a great deal more I CAN do if the staff are not there to carry out the work, is there?

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 13:17:05

you canot get help wth insulation in the private rented sector if your landlord isn't interested, compel landlords to take up these offers and you might get somewhere!

'a big focus on education for children with special needs'

my 5 year old son had to be at te level of lying in the corner crying i school for the lea to even consider a move to special school which could yet take months, just getting a statement for him (then on verbal) meant my lib dem AM personally following up every step; our Labour MP refused to help, none of his business!

special needs kids are falling through every step of the education system.

Mercy Tue 25-Nov-08 13:17:53

Completely agree peachy and herbie.


herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:18:11

Message withdrawn

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:18:34

Couldnt agree more peachy. The funds just arent there - along with staff and facilities, despite everyone involved wanting to be able to help.

rockingaroundthechristmastree Tue 25-Nov-08 13:19:10

Hi Harriet,

If looking to help parents take time out of work to care for their children, why not consider additional financial help to parents, ie. for a 2 parent family both working parents have the option to use pre-tax income to purchase vouchers to pay for nursery care, why not reduce the amount of tax 1 of the working parents must pay to perhaps allow the other parent to stay home and care for the child? Or increase child tax credits period?

DH and I are both professionals earning decent wages(well above the minimum), but having no savings to fall back on, I was forced to return to work when DD reached 9 months... Sadly, the £450/month or so we'd need for me to stay home isn't there. And in looking at the fact that fully 1/3 of my monthly wages go to childcare, I feel like I'm working to pay for others to raise my child. Doesn't exactly help the PND.

And I imagine others fall in a similar middle gap - neither too wealthy nor too poor to have much of a choice about childcare/working. sad

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 25-Nov-08 13:20:32

Hi Harriet,
Thanks so much for coming on. Can I as what you would do if you ruled the world? (In one paragraph)


JoolsToo Tue 25-Nov-08 13:20:52

Don't miss the John Lewis sale

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 13:21:18

well said cali. The way the government has done it is that you are financially better off as single parent on a low wage. free school dinners, free uniforms, paid housing, discounted childcare. why would you work a 40 hr week, miss out on assemblies and spending time with your kids when you could get paid to do nothing. i know alot of single parents are genuine but if the government didnt make this sound good we wouldnt have so many single parents and the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in europe!

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 13:23:02

Soapbox and AuraofDora, We must not let the global down turn in the economy be a "nail in the coffin of equality of opportunity for women". Women's pay is important to them and their family. so we need to protect women in work every bit as much as we protect men. and when the global upturn ends - and grim as the situation is it will not go on forever - we need to ensure that women as well as men are there, in the workforce, with the skills and qualifications they - and the economy - need. And we will be backing up women in small businesses too. We need more women to be making a go of it in their own businesses. I know that many women start their own business because it can be more flexible than working for an employer. We don't agree with the line of argument that equality is a luxury that you can only "afford in good times". As a senior executive of the CBI said to me yesterday "it doesn't cost anything to be fair and not discriminate". And prejudices is wasteful and stupid as well as unfair.
And, Phantom of the Chocolate Cake Avena (mad name but very sensible point!) it is not the case that women are not as bright or as hard working or as well-educated as men. yet they are paid so much less. this is discrimination. and there shouldn't be a "parent penalty" whereby people who work shorter hours because they are caring for children get penalised by lower pay and opportunities. caring for children is important and working mothers should be respected not subjected to discrimination.

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:23:18

That's exactly my scenario rockingaround.

i have to work, and although I do get childcare vouchers, they save me £17 a week on childcare that actually costs me £75 for a minder to have DS from 9.15am adn then drop him at pre-school for 1pm. I only work 4.5 hours a day. It cuts my salary in half and I am therefore earning less than the minimum wage - much less, in fact.

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 13:23:39

As a positive can I say thank you for the improvements in maternity there have been; I had my first child less than two years into this Government and was forced financially back to work at 9 weeks postpartum after being compelled to start leave at 37 weeks pg through health; the changes for my most recent child, 7 months, are amazing.

Also thanks for the right to flexible work for parents- the only way my dh could manage working and helping me with care for our disabled duo.

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 13:25:04

Swedes....John Bercow is my choice - but naming him will probably ruin his career in tbe Tory party. But really i'd prefer Anton that possible instead of a Tory MP?

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:26:01

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HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 13:26:24

Doobydoo. No,far from it. he has helped by having an unreasonable beleif in my abilities!

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 13:27:09

you have said nothing to convince me that i would be better off working rather than staying at home. how can you convince me that I am wrong?

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:27:35

Yes, but dont you think that equality for women should also mean respecting what women do in bringing up children and managing a household?

Family units are being spread out and split up to enable women to work because they feel less respected if they dont work - particularly if they are part of a couple.

Home life and community are so important and are a huge factor in the higher level of crime, violence, drug abuse etc that we are experiencing nowadays.

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 13:28:17

Soapbox, I'm not Miss because I'm married, I'm not Mrs Harman because that's not my husband's it's Ms. And my husband is still Mr!

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:28:19

here,s me, late as usual. Dear Harriet, thanks for replying. But you are wrong at the level of DLA being sufficent. Its not steretchy yet is meant to cover extra heating, unusual diets (dd is on the ketogenic), extra travel - we can't get on buses as they are not wheelchair accessible - equipment that the NHS either wont supply or takes so long you give up and buy it yourself plus childcare for your other children when your child is rushed into hospital. The list is endless.
We need winter fuel payments for families with disabled children and disbaled adults.
I'm sat here wearing my coat cos its so cold and I can't afford to put the heating on. dd aged 4 with spastic quadraplegic cerebral palsy is wearing 4 layers and has gloves and a hat on. Indoors. Thats disgusting.

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:30:35

oh, and carers allowance is pathetic. Hubby had to go part time to help me care for dd. He loses 3/4 of his income, we get £55 a week for 24 hours of caring, 7 days a week. If we parked her in residnetial care it would cost the Govt £100,000 a year.
You'd be in serious trouble if all the carers said 'we've had enough'

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 13:31:22

Soapbox...When i was younger I was told not to appear too bright or i would never get a husband because men would be intimidated by my brain! then as soon as i became an MP they said i was thick! Best to be thick skinned....

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:32:04

but I do thank the Govt for Child Tax Credit. My first 3 children were born in the 90's under Tories and there was no help for the low paid. I think CTC is wonderful and it has made an enormous difference (except for the heating which we can't afford)

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:32:13

Message withdrawn

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 13:32:51

Would you acknowledge that from reading the posts here- carers desperate to work and other mums desperate to be at home- the key isn't to dictate what route people take but to facillitate choices that allow famillies to find the solutions that work for them?

(apologies for typing- baby in arms again)

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:32:53

Secretary of State for Equalities...didn't realise that. Why is the DDA so toothless? Was it designed that way deliberately?

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:33:52

If dd keeps me awake one more night the govt might find I do give up grin 4 years without sleep and counting....

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 13:34:08

Are you deliberately just answering the easy questions! I thought this was our chance to have a discussion with you about the important things affecting our lives! angry

cmotdibbler Tue 25-Nov-08 13:34:26

Maybe you should sign up for Strictly grin

And when the ILs get my honorative wrong, I shall now say that if Ms is good enough for you, its good enough for me ?

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:34:48

Answers/views on b/feeding please smile

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:34:57

Message withdrawn

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 13:35:01

I don't want to convince you about anything. i just want to ensure that you have the choices you want. that means that there needs to be good quality childcare which you can afford so if you do go out to work you are not tearing your hair out. And you can take time out after having a baby without haveing to throw in your job if you don't want to. and we need employers to be more flexible so that they recognise that most of the women they employ are someone's mother too...

JoolsToo Tue 25-Nov-08 13:35:18

I think it would be helpful if the guests brought along folk who can type so they could answer more than half a dozen questions.

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 13:35:41

'He loses 3/4 of his income, we get £55 a week for 24 hours of caring, 7 days a week. '

yes, absolutely

If I could sort childcare I would like to go and teach a shortage subject and pay taxes, a win-win scenario for the whole Country surely?

but my ds's can only access proprely organised childcare for disabled children- and there is none. Why? And why am I being penalised for this with £50 a week income that is also taxed by tax credits?

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:36:36

I've never seen any free help with insulation costs. WarmFront will not insulate a roof that doesn't have a loft. So we have a layer of tiles and some plaster board above my bedroom and its cold. Right now its about 5 C up there. Tonight when the temp drops me and dd will sleep in a bedroom that is roughly at freezing level.
I challnened our MP to come and feel how cold it is in my house but he was too chicken. Maybe Miss harmen would agree to come see for herself.

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:38:00

Message withdrawn

revjustabout Tue 25-Nov-08 13:39:29

Ooh YES. Why do we need VAT on sanitary towels and tampons?

(launches campaign)

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:39:36

men don't need a Minister. They been in charge for centuries grin

Why is their no student loan or financial help for Masters Degrees? This means only rich people can go on to do a Masters.
<slaps head> probably the plan to stop us lowly types getting uppity.

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 13:39:45

so you didnt read my previous posts then??!! I dont havethe choices i want! As a teacher it is very difficult to get a part time job and achieve a work life balance. if i go back to work i will loose my tax credits and i wont be able to afford childcare anyway. there is no good quality childcare near me. the only one with spaces is asking for £130 for a minimum of 3 days. The sums dont add up. Cant you see that?

cali Tue 25-Nov-08 13:39:52

I have just copied my earlier posts as I was hoping for a response!

Every week there seems to be some article or report on the shortage of Neonatal nurses and the difficulties in retention of staff in neonatal units.

I have over 10 years experience as a Neonatal Nurse and although I am currently working, I will soon have to give up a career that I enjoy.

This is because I have 2 young children and it is becoming increasingly difficult to do the 12.5 hour shifts that I have to work and arrange child care.

My husband and I, unfortunately do not have the ability to share child care. He is in the armed forces and out of the next 16 months, will be away for 12 months.

Some employers say that they offer flexible working but then when this is requested, employees are then informed that it is not in the interests of the service to offer flexible working arrangements.

What can the Government do to help families in a similar situation as ours?

Should also add, we don't qualify for tax credits and we can not afford for me to stay at home.
This is especially true after the pre budget announcement. The more you earn, the greater the penalty.

Madsometimes Tue 25-Nov-08 13:40:15

Very good point herbietea.

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:40:38

dontcha know that VAT has just been reduced.....i'm sure the govt think that'll cover it - so to speak wink

anyway - why dont you all go buy a mooncup? much more eco-friendly grin

Saturn74 Tue 25-Nov-08 13:41:04

NMC, that's appalling. sad
Ms Harman would you personally ensure NMC gets access to the help you have referred to?

revjustabout Tue 25-Nov-08 13:41:36

(oh go on, please, abolish VAT on tampax along with all the rest of the tax-cutting package, I'm sure Darling wouldn't notice if you just sent him an email telling him that you'd ordered it, he's dead overworked right now, go on, do it for women everywhere)

revjustabout Tue 25-Nov-08 13:42:09

VVV - I wondered when someone would mention mooncups!

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:42:23

going back to hubby having to give up work - what a waste. he has a PhD in maths and it was him who designed the AI that goes into the computer surveillance this Govt is so fond of. yet he's home taking care of dd cos there isn't enough respite for 50 quid a week.
If the Govt wants to continue with the whole Big Brother thing don't you reckon you need him back in work?
Apologies to all socialists. I am ashamed of what he did, bloody scientists beavering away without thinking what the govt might do with the research blush

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:43:28

MsHarman appears to either be a very slow typer and is sat saying 'ummm' grin
They need me in charge wink

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 13:43:45

VeniVidiVickyQV Breast feeding is best for the child. but not everyone can do it. it can be a struggle to get it going properly. Women need help and encouragement to feed. But still some mothers want to breasfeed and can't. But where women do breast feed they should be treated respectfully in public places. I was once feeding one of my children in a restaurant - and some of the other diners were making much worse slurping noises - and i was told to go and feed the baby in the ladies! things have changed a lot since then but we're introducing in the Equality Bill a law which makes it clear beyond doubt that breastfeeding women are not to be discriminated against.

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:43:47

grin nmc

<passes over a redbull and some pro-plus>

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:43:49

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herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:44:15

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needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:44:27

I think it would be pretty funny to watch a commons debate on VAT on tampons and sanitary towels. Can you imagine the blushes grin

revjustabout Tue 25-Nov-08 13:44:37

No I think she is writing to Alasdair Darling telling him to abolish VAT on tampax and tampons

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 13:45:10

good idea come i can type, read and see to my son and reply quicker than you Harriet?

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 13:45:30

Harriet, as Minister for women why can't you spend more than one hour on such a huge forum? And why can't MN find any guests without a claimed typing speed of below 2 wpm?

<<competition looming for strangest place to mention a mooncup lol, but Peachy wins wih her tale about having to explain what one was in a packeed Buddhist monastery>>

revjustabout Tue 25-Nov-08 13:45:31

That's awful about your breastfeeding experience, BTW. Sympathies.

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:45:48

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TinkerBellesMum Tue 25-Nov-08 13:46:34

A very high % of women CAN breastfeed, they just don't have the support, the NHS isn't providing it and not everyone knows about people like NCT. If men had babies you can guarantee the support would be fantastic!

As for the equalities act it doesn't do anywhere near enough to support us. If someone tells me to stop feeding in public I need to get proof that that happened and come back with a solicitor. I can't call on the police like I could if I lived in Scotland. We need it to be covered under criminal law!

PerkinWarbeck Tue 25-Nov-08 13:46:58

I seem to recall that the lovely Alan Johnson brought a typist with him smile.

Harriet, is Alan really lovely in real life?

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:47:10

she's a bit faster than David Cameron. Man, was he slow grin

cali Tue 25-Nov-08 13:47:22

Must be that age old trick of MP's.

Dodge any questions that they do not want to answer, because they basically don't have a clue about the real issues that people face in their day to day lives.

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:47:24

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herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:47:45

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VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:47:55

"But still some mothers want to breasfeed and can't."

Knowing how good b/feeding is for both mother and baby - what do you think the govt should be doing to enable more women who "can't" b/feed? Bearing in mind that after 6 weeks 80 something % of mothers have given up b/feeding.

revjustabout Tue 25-Nov-08 13:48:21

(that's why I think she shoudl write to Alastair Darling, because he'd be too embarrassed to argue with her. Even better, bring it up at Cabinet meeting. Everyone would look at the ground and agree to stop themselves having to talk about it).

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 13:48:58

'she's a bit faster than David Cameron. Man, was he slow ' in sooo very many ways (unless it was the queue to ban plebs from Cornwall obv wink)

Madsometimes Tue 25-Nov-08 13:49:11

MN could provide a typist. Remember we had to tolerate the annoying flower advert a few weeks ago. That could pay for a temp!

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:49:20

I bet she isn't slow cos her fingers are freezing off. My thermometer above the computer says 8 c which I believe is the temp outside.
But I'm cheered to think the greedy energy companies will lower bills after the winter. Wholesale gas has dropped 30% and here we are still freezing out knickers off.

TinkerBellesMum Tue 25-Nov-08 13:49:22

It would be criminal law if men had to breastfeed.

Just like sanitary items would be VAT free!

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 13:49:23

my original post was-
It seems I have made five mistakes according to the government.1. getting married, 2. having children, 3. owning my own house, 4. having a degree & 5. becoming a teacher.
If I had not got married I would be receiving over £1000 a month in benefits and living rent free, if I had not had children I would not be scared about bringing up black boys in London, if I hadn't bought a house or gone to university I would not be in debt,If I hadn't become a teacher I wouldn't have suffered from depression or been falsely accused of assault.
My question is- How can you convince me that my life is the better option? The fact is, your government is not doing anything to help people like me.

do you think you may be able to answer? youve only got 15 mins left hmme but really you should have read through in advance!

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 13:50:49

AuraofDora, Bubble99 and Phantom of the Chocolate,

About the economy, we are in uncharted waters with problems accros the global economy. Gordon Brown and the Chancellor are doing 2 things....first to protect families, small businesses, and jobs in this country. and secondly to work with other countries to make sure that we have a robust system for regulation and rules for the international finacial services market. So that families and businesses are not put at risk. The economy is not bankrupt. The government has had to put a lot of money in to back the economy up. But without that action it would be a total disaster. And when we come to balance the books after the economy has stabilised we will make sure it is fair, making people who earn over £150,000 pay more and people on lower incomes to be protected.

cali Tue 25-Nov-08 13:51:20


almost the same issues that I have, I think we are going to go unanswered somehow!

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:52:15

Harriet, those people on 150K are already bitching about paying a little bit more. And why delay it till 2010? Its just a feel-good statement isn't it. you can own up here...

Saturn74 Tue 25-Nov-08 13:52:24

One hour is too short for these sorts of webchats.

One hour to question someone married to someone flogging cookery books is fine.

One hour to question someone with so much influence over our lives is not.

MNHQ, do you send a link to the thread in advance, so the guest can prepare their answers to the questions already asked?

It's all a bit silly really. sad

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:52:47

Message withdrawn

revjustabout Tue 25-Nov-08 13:53:01

OK. I have to go and work on my Ph.D now Harriet.

But heard it here first...Mumsnet wants VAT exemption on sanitary wear again!

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 13:53:28

you think cali hmm. if theres 2 of us on here think of the millions out there Harriet in the same situation but with no access to a computer to rant!

cali Tue 25-Nov-08 13:53:32

Oh, I am sorry.

you are doing nothing to protect families.

If I got divorced and gave up work, I would be better off.

That is what is ludicrous about this country and it's current government.

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:53:46

we need a woman chancellor. After all, let a man loose in a supermarket and he comes out with chocolate and gateau and no proper food, while your average woman can feed a family of 6 on 50 quid a week grin
We could balance the budget.

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 13:53:53

Older people type slower than younger people.....please don't indulge in age discrimination! And i'm thinking about my replies which takes time. So give me a break sister!

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 13:54:04

Several posters, most if not all graduates who theoretically could earn well and be taxed well, have asked about special needs childcare.

Please answer.

I have had statement from student loans today saying I owe £14k; please tell me who will care for my children so I can pay it back? I'd like to, please.

EachPeachPearMum Tue 25-Nov-08 13:54:12

well.. give Harriet her dues- she did turn up and start posting early...

dittany Tue 25-Nov-08 13:54:29

What's your proudest achievement in politics, Harriet? (Or achievements, if you've got more than one grin ).

dittany Tue 25-Nov-08 13:54:29

What's your proudest achievement in politics, Harriet? (Or achievements, if you've got more than one grin ).

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:54:53

Message withdrawn

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 13:55:02

only 6 mins to go Harriet you might be able to squeeze an answer in!

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:55:21

Yes, I do feel for Ms Harman - it's not enough time to respond to the responses, as it were. One hour isnt enough. Pre-typed answers to pre-posted questions would have made it easier to respond to the here and now.

Maiakins Tue 25-Nov-08 13:55:37

Hello, Harriet. Thanks for coming on here. I want to know why mothers of multiples (twins, triplets etc) seem to be discriminated against by this Labour government when it comes to tax credits etc? You only get one baby element, rather than two? But it is not as if you can recycle your highchair, cot, clothes from one baby to the other if they are twins?

The same is true for the proposed bill on nutrition in pregnancies? Women expecting twins or more need more nutrition than women expecting one, but yet they're only going to get one payment? The research suggests that mothers expecting twins who have better nutrition have less premature babies and therefore it would save hospitals money in the long run.

It's really expensive to have multiples, but we get NO support at all from this government. NONE! Nothing from councils, nothing. In fact, we're discriminated against.

Also I think school admission policies should be to keep multiples together where possible in the same school.

TinkerBellesMum Tue 25-Nov-08 13:55:46

If you had more time to spend around here you'd find there is a certain sense of humour here that you get used to. No one means anything by it... I think!

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:56:35

Message withdrawn

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:56:59

Did MNHQ ask for answers in advance? perhaps they ought to have?

EachPeachPearMum Tue 25-Nov-08 13:57:01

welll TBM .... I have reined myself in from asking nasty questions about H's personal life wink

JoolsToo Tue 25-Nov-08 13:57:13

girls do not worry

she will listen and learn hmm

AmIWhatAndWhy Tue 25-Nov-08 13:57:27

give me a break sister


VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:58:24

Herbie - I dont think typing skills should be a pre-requisite of a webchat - otherwise we'd have very few gusts AT ALL grin

rockingaroundthechristmastree Tue 25-Nov-08 13:58:29

Sunshine - I don't think we're getting an answer to "what about those of us in the middle? Those who tried the traditional route and found ourselves worse off...???"

Financially, it would've been better not to have gotten married last year (whilst pregnant, gone to university, and had my daughter - And I find that very sad.

And going back to my post before - yeah, a measly £450/month would keep me at home raising my daughter where I desperately want to be, but I'm off to work full-time and paying £685/month to the nursery for raising my daughter. How does that math work out???

And what scares me is that the guilt/stress of this will kick my SLE back into flare mode and I'll have to stop working because I'll be incapacitated. And unable to look after my daughter or myself.

SO Harriet - what's the government going to do about that? I don't see where you've provided me choices?

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 13:58:34

some questions have been here sice the 21st it seems

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 13:58:46

guests, even blush

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 13:59:28

well said maiakins and the only place you get multiple birth discount is clarks but you have to take the kids with you to prove it! It is very unfair that you dont get discount with childcaresad

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 13:59:42

Harriet, I have multiple sclerosis (poor hubby cares for me and dd) and I am typing. Its the only chance us disabled people ever get to question a minister. Usually they are to be found only in rarified atmospheres with good food and no riff-raff bothering them wink

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 13:59:52

Message withdrawn

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 14:00:33

don't Ministers have minions to type for them?
Do you thin you'll join Mumsnet after this harriet?

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 14:00:36

Cali,We have helped famililes - with more child benefit, increased maternity pay and leave and paid paternity leave. And loads of other things. i know we need to do more....and we will. But the truth is that it is men who are better off after divorce and women become worse off! And check out Tax should not be worse off in work. You should be able to choose your shifts - with your valuable qualifications and experience. Are you in the RCN or in a union...they could take up your case for you. Its always in the interests of the service to keep experienced and qualified nurses.

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 14:00:50

My Mum was Secretary of the year 1968 bet she types even faster>> wink

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 14:01:44

Message withdrawn

EachPeachPearMum Tue 25-Nov-08 14:02:15

Do you think the mner Harman will namechange now? grin

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 14:02:21

well time is up we would have been netter off getting answers amongst ourselves. well at least you turned up? btw ( are we related sister?shock

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 14:02:26

Harriet, please come and meet me (and other parents of disabled children) for a proper discussion. I'm in bristol.
Dave Cameron agreed.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 25-Nov-08 14:03:05

Hello folks,
Yes we always start these threads early and send over advance questions but Harriet Harman, as you know is Deputy Prime Minister and yesterday was the Pre-Budget Report (quite a significant thing for this Government and the country) so she was probably just a tad busy. Obviously an hour isn't long to cover all the ground we'd like to cover, but it's better than nowt isn't it - and maybe if you're nice [ahem] she'll consider coming back one day! (Maybe a regular Mumsnet surgery?)

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 14:03:11

Message withdrawn

cali Tue 25-Nov-08 14:03:26

We do not qualify for Tax Credits. My husband is a higher rate tax payer(just)

My unit's shifts are 12.5 hours long - and they will not allow flexible working.

They prefer to lose experience staff, who they then replace with inexperienced staff as it is much cheaper to do so.

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 14:03:48

OOh yes Bristol is close to me also.

I am sure we would have lots of questions.

Would you have lots of answers?

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 14:04:50

Message withdrawn

HarrietHarman Tue 25-Nov-08 14:05:22

Great to chat to you. will read all your comments and reflect on them. All the best. H

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 14:05:50

course you can. If MsHarman will agree. Course, its buggery cold here so we'd have to use the drop in centre for Disabled Children

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 14:06:46

now she's pushed off without agreeing. typical. Even Dave said he would come - I've had to keep cancelling on him cos of dd's seizures.

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 14:07:07

hasnt she got a laptop or a blackberry! no excuse. she should have treated it like question time bet she wouldve been ready for dimbleby.

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 14:07:12

How fast d'ya think she's running away?

rockingaroundthechristmastree Tue 25-Nov-08 14:08:21

i see treadmarks...grin

oh well.

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 14:08:53

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herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 14:09:22

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Eddas Tue 25-Nov-08 14:09:34

i've been following this thread for the last 20 mins and what a waste of time. None of you got any answershmm

She would've been busy yesterday, but surely she knew that before agreeing today for a webchathmm

If she's that slow a typist then surely she could've got someone in ready to type for her.

I'd say the 'chat' achieved sweet FA for anybodyhmm

Saturn74 Tue 25-Nov-08 14:10:26

It's all fairly pointless really, isn't it?

God, I'd be out of this country like a shot - if I wasn't up to my eyeballs in debt due to giving up my business in order to educate my children, because the state education system is on its' knees.


Mumsnet members should form a political party - at least we'd have good intentions. That's a start, isn't it?

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 14:12:53

are we suprised a politician didn't answer questions! Its what they do (or rather, don't)

But never fear, I will write to her office and badger her for a meeting them tell everyone grin

Bramshott Tue 25-Nov-08 14:13:20

Actually Justine, she's not Deputy Prime Minister I think, just Deputy Labour Leader - Brown pointedly did not make her DPM hmm

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 14:13:24

thats a brilliant idea humphrey cushion. wed easily win as we are the most influential people in the country and we would force our families to vote for us with threats of strike action! brilliant! grin

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 14:13:58

anyone recall that TV series where a supermarket cashier did say bugger it and stood for election as an independant , then other women did and they won.
I quite liked that grin

EachPeachPearMum Tue 25-Nov-08 14:14:25

HC but none of us on here ever agree over things do we? How would we form policies? grin

dittany Tue 25-Nov-08 14:14:59

Yeah, sanitary towels are really top at the list of women's issues. Good grief. hmm

From her website it sounds like HH has done a lot to fight for women's rights. I can't believe she's getting a hard time because she can't solve every single problem people are facing.

Is everybody here asking questions, Tories? grin

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 14:15:01

Mind you, I'm not moving to number 10. Its not wheelchair accessible. How shocking is that!!!

EachPeachPearMum Tue 25-Nov-08 14:15:48

Bramshott DPM is just a role for people who they don't want to damage anything.... think back to who the last one was {grin]

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 14:16:00

life long labour supporter here dittany. But politcians should be given a hard time.
I went for beer with tony Benn once and gave hima grilling too grin

PeachyAndTheSucklingBas Tue 25-Nov-08 14:16:30

I am a Labour voter.

What should we do then Dittany, sit and swoon?

sod that, not until my life is perfect anyhow.
And fwiw I know at least me and NMC posted complimentary thanks as wella s questions.

FFS. What is a chat for if not questions?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 25-Nov-08 14:18:07

Good point Bramshott - my mistake - but she must still be v busy what with being Deputy Leader of Labour Party, Leader of the House of Commons, Secretary of State for Equalities and Minister for Women.

Would keep me busy anyway!

dittany Tue 25-Nov-08 14:18:50

People were really polite to David Cameron.

Did anybody ask him about sanitary protection and get huffy if he didn't answer?

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 14:18:52

its the duty of everyone in a democracy to question the leaders constantly.

Bramshott Tue 25-Nov-08 14:19:29

It must be very difficult for politicians to keep up with the myriad of questions posted on these kind of threads (although clearly some are better at it than others!) especially if they have not honed their skills at skim reading and picking out phrases by hours of Mumsnetting grin!

Is there some way we can improve this to make it easier for them to get their answers to us in the timeframe? Can we for example give each post a title in capitals: eg "WORKING PARENTS", "CHILD TAX CREDIT", "VAT ON TAMPONS". Do the people we have on have any time beforehand to read through the questions that have already been posted?

I also think it IS quite difficult for us to expect politicians to comment directly on people's individual circumstances. NMC - your point about DLA and winter fuel payments is very valid and has wider ramifications than your DD, but to ask a minister to comment specifically on personal circumstances as other posters may have done is tricky I think, and I can see why she/they would shy away from it.

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 14:19:32

yes dittany "from her website" come on shes not going to have anything unglamorous on there is she?!. and no i am not a tory voter just a mother finding it hard to survive isnt that worthy enough to get a few simple questions answered?

needmorecoffee Tue 25-Nov-08 14:20:17

I do believe I gave Dave a hard time too. But you're right, didn't think to ask him about VAT on sanitary products. Will remember that if he comes to this agreed meeting in Bristol. Like what he promised.

Saturn74 Tue 25-Nov-08 14:20:23

Dittany, I voted for Labour several times, in all good faith.
That's why it is all so fecking depressing.

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 14:21:42

Message withdrawn

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 14:23:50

oh bramshott your not feeling sorry for her are you? She knew the job wasnt going to be easy when she signed up for it! as a politician she should be used to difficult questions from disgruntled people. shes done newsnight with paxman!

EachPeachPearMum Tue 25-Nov-08 14:25:05

Justine do you think the reason she has so many posts is because women are good at multitasking, whereas male ministers can only cope with one portfolio? wink

Bramshott Tue 25-Nov-08 14:28:41

Hmm, Sunshine, I suppose I am a bit blush. NOT for evading questions, but just thinking how difficult it must be to make sense of a thread like this if you're not used to it. I am assuming the Harriet Harman doesn't have the hours to devote to Mumsnet each day that I do!!

But mainly I am thinking how fab Mumsnet is for getting these people on in the first place (where else would you get to question the Minister for Women directly, in real time?) and not wanting them to get discouraged, or for us to get a reputation as a bunch of shouting harpies grin!!

Swedes Tue 25-Nov-08 14:30:12

Dittany - So perhaps it's not top of your list. Has it not occured to you that other people might not be terribly interested in the answer to your Q to Harriet Harman? And do you mind me saying I find your brand of feminism disturbing. Regardless of the quality or integrity of the personality being discussed, you fawn if they are female and hiss and boo if they are male.

Saturn74 Tue 25-Nov-08 14:32:39

Perhaps we should have restricted ourselves to asking questions about cupcakes.
I rarely get enraged by cupcake discussions.

sunshineakindat Tue 25-Nov-08 14:43:16

it depends what flavours your favourite some people do get funny.grin

Jux Tue 25-Nov-08 14:52:30

Well, I think that was a bit of a cop-out Harriet. And I don't think prostitution/drugs are equivalent to domestic violence. I am not talking about prostitutes who are trafficked - obviously that needs to be dealt with - but what Labour have proposed recently to deal with prostitution is a bit of a joke isn't it? It fails to help the victims while persecuting the clients, and whether you like or not, there always have been and will always be, men who want sex and are prepared to pay for it, who treat the prostitutes decently, and who often return to the same one. There are women who choose to go into the profession.

I am also talking about people who choose to take 'recreational' drugs because they are fun. None of that is going to stop just because you don't like it; the Government refuses even to enter into a debate, with Gordon Brown ignoring the advice of the panel he set up to look into it (because of his own prejudices? or because he thinks it'll lose votes?).

Are we too mealy-mouthed and too sanctimonious to admit that people like sex and that people like taking drugs? If it were all out in the open, everyone would be much more clued up on the consequences of their decisions and therefore able to make better ones. I would much rather my daughter turned down drugs from a point of view of knowledge of their effects and consequences, than from fear of getting caught.

In many cases, prostitution and the taking of illegal drugs is a victimless crime. DV never is, and I'm disgusted you view it as on a par with them.

GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 14:53:15

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GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 14:53:26

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GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 14:53:28

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Doobydoo Tue 25-Nov-08 14:53:47

No Answer to Iraq questions and no answer re if she would consider herself a socialidt and no answers for many of youhmm

GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 14:54:02

Well, I'm less than impressed, my issue over paid leave to care for sick children was totally ignored! I am doing my best, I work part time and run a house etc, but despite all this waffle about flexible working and so on, if my kids are ill I get bullied into using my annual leave to stay at home and care for them, how is this family friendly, or giving me a working environment that acknowledges that I am a mother as well as a valued member of staff. Who is supposed to look after my sick children, my DP gets no "carers leave", he'd have to use holiday, is my mother supposed to take time off work? And the bottom line is that sick children want to be be with thier mothers, not someone else!

I'd like an answer Harriet, you can log in tonight at home, I pay your wages, and you earn far more than me..... hmm

And I agree with VVV, get Mooncups!!!grin

Doobydoo Tue 25-Nov-08 14:54:06


GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 14:56:36

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GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 14:57:11

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GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 14:57:49

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GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 14:58:01

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GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 14:58:05

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GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 14:58:14

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GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 14:58:24

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TinkerBellesMum Tue 25-Nov-08 14:59:25

Making a point GM or having PC problems? wink

artichokes Tue 25-Nov-08 15:01:12

"I'd like an answer Harriet, you can log in tonight at home, I pay your wages, and you earn far more than me....."

THe House of Commons will sit 'til 10.30pm tonight so don't expect her home early. Ministers are paid decent salaries but do not assume that they don't earn it. It is one of the busiest jobs you can imagine.

EachPeachPearMum Tue 25-Nov-08 15:09:31

Humphreycushion come on, (paxman style) you know that if we confined the discussion to cupcakes, it would soon descend into a bunfight over whether they should be termed 'cupcakes', 'muffins' or 'fairy cakes' grin

GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 15:15:42

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GreenMonkies Tue 25-Nov-08 15:19:13

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Jux Tue 25-Nov-08 15:19:29

HH as pointless as ever then. Nothing changes (she was my MP once! useless then as well).

You've got better at not actually answering questions over the years though.

Mercy Tue 25-Nov-08 15:21:02

Surely people like Harriet could invest in some voice recogniton software?

SHe might have been able to answer a few questions that way!

herbietea Tue 25-Nov-08 15:22:53

Message withdrawn

She's an MP.
And not just any old MP, the deputy leader of the labour party. She would have had to be very careful what she said.
Couldn't really expect more tbh.

VeniVidiVickiQV Tue 25-Nov-08 16:40:19

I think it could have been planned better, in terms of HH knowing what she was letting herself in for, and HH preparing a bit more with questions, researching previous webchats etc.

THank you MNHQ. You've been getting in some great guests. smile

Laugs Tue 25-Nov-08 16:44:23

There's no way she could have been expected to answer on all those issues in 1 hour though. Even if she could type a bit faster.

I think it would be better for everyone if politicans were given a time slot to answer questions on one specified topic. Then they could go into detail with considered answers.

After all, what actually matters is what their policies are, how they will effect us, and even if we can help change them - not if we can catch someone out.

artichokes Tue 25-Nov-08 16:52:25

I am interested in what people expect from government ministers who do these chats. All they can do is defend their policies.

They can't make up new policies on the hoof and hopefully we would not wish them to.

They cannot make new policy announcements (even if they have been previously thought out an agreed in Cabinet) because they have committed to tell Parliament first if policy changes.

They cannot admit weaknesses with existing policies without risking their jobs, risking a huge media who-ha about "u-turns" or committing themselves to a change in policy (which they should never do without consulting minsiterial colleagues).

So what do we expect from these "chats"???

LittleBella Tue 25-Nov-08 16:57:17

Well I'm totally pissed off that she didn't answer my question about making sexism as socially unacceptable as racism.

She's supposedly been a life-long feminist and she has nothing to say on the subject of mysogyny?


She didn't answer my housing question either but I can forgive her for that becuase it's not her portfolio. But not to answer a question about sexism and mysogyny... no excuse for it.

Candlewax Tue 25-Nov-08 17:45:16

May I just say thank you for your response Ms Harman.

LittleBella Tue 25-Nov-08 18:40:24

Treasure it candlewax, it's rare. grin

Can we have Johnny Depp next time? Can we, can we?

dittany Tue 25-Nov-08 18:56:14

I'm with artichokes, what exactly do people expect from her?

Read the webchats with David Cameron and Alan Johnson, they were far less haranguing and demanding. I don't think she's useless - she's done a lot for women in the area of the law on crimes such as domestic violence and rape, on the minimum wage (she helped drive forward the legislation for it - 2/3 of people who benefited from the minimum wage were women) and on employment rights like parental leave. If enough hasn't be done it's because funnily enough Harriet Harman isn't a dictator in a one-party state but rather has to work within the confines of the (still very sexist) Labour party and government.

dittany Tue 25-Nov-08 18:58:14

Oh yeah and rock on to Harriet and her colleagues for getting laws passed against men who use women who have been forced into prostitution, because what they are is rapists.

Anybody who objects to this doesn't deserve to live in a civilised society with the protections that offers.

morningpaper Tue 25-Nov-08 19:33:24

agree with you Dittany (faints)

I am a big fan of HH, I'm amazed she fitted us in at all!

We did sound a little like we'd been drinking Fruit Shoots for elevensies

glitterfairy Tue 25-Nov-08 19:53:26

Well she didnt answer my question. I have just caught up so have written to her instead.

LittleBella Tue 25-Nov-08 20:10:16

But my question was asked days ago.

And it was a sober one about an area of interest to her.

I'm miffed that she ignored it. Miffed I tell you.

artichokes Tue 25-Nov-08 20:21:09

But what could she possibly answer LittleBella?

She could have given pointless platitudes that sexism is as bad as racism and homophobia, but platitudes probably would not have satisfied.

And in the real world what do you want her to do? Agree with your suggestion that in playgrounds sexist remarks will be recorded??? So every little boy that says "girls smell" and every girl that says "boys are dirty and have nits" gets a black mark (with all the paper work that entails for pressed teachers)?

Even if that is what you wanted she couldn't make policy up on the hoof. Our government works through a system of collective responsiblity - the whole Cabinet have to agree new lines together.

LittleBella Tue 25-Nov-08 20:44:44

Oh I don't know.

I wanted some kind of acknowledgement that there's some political will behind taking sexism as seriously as racism. That women's human rights are as important and to be taken as seriously as everyone else's. Or even an admission that there is no political will behind that agenda and that there needs to be and what her experience has been of trying to push that agenda.

LittleBella Tue 25-Nov-08 20:46:20

Oh by the way someone earlier on said "you are financially better off as single parent on a low wage. free school dinners, free uniforms, paid housing, discounted childcare."

Er no. You get the fourth one on the list. As a low paid single parent, you don't get any of the others, why do people continue to promote these myths?

mollythetortoise Tue 25-Nov-08 20:52:03

totally agree with dittany and artichokes re HH. I think the recent law changes on trafficked women and prostitution are fantastic. Good for HH and JS. I can't understand why any woman (or man for that matter) could possibly disagree with them. IT is modern day slavery not Belle du Jour for the vast majority of prostitutes

policywonk Tue 25-Nov-08 20:53:57

Yes, absolutely molly. HH has done some really heroic stuff over the last year (not just on the prostitution front - other things too). I think we should be erecting a statue to her in Trafalgar Square, quite frankly.

Poohbah Tue 25-Nov-08 21:05:21

She seems oblivious to the fact that despite all the equality legislation we now have that valuable health professionals with 10+ years experience all being lost to the public sector as the NHS/Local government despite all their fine words because they refuse to employ people flexibly and when they do employ us they don't treat the same as full time employees. I don't know about you Cali, but the advice to go to your Union pretty much sucks as I can't even afford to pay Union subs!

LittleBella Tue 25-Nov-08 21:10:40

Hmm I've softened towards her in recent years because she has done some good stuff, but I've never quite forgiven her for doing the men's dirty work and cutting one parent benefit when they first got in. For her it was just a policy decision and she chose to go along with it for the sake of her career (wrongly as it happens, because they sacked her a year after anyway) but for a lot of lone parents and their children, it was a terrible blow and meant real financial hardship for a couple of years. Her justification was that it needed to be done to herald the other changes (and there's no doubt that this govt have done more for LP's than the Tories did, but let's face it that's not hard) the ones that were introduced later, but 2 years of financial desperation when you're a child is a long time. I think a lot of people remember her for that and haven't forgiven her.

policywonk Tue 25-Nov-08 21:46:18

That's a good point LB, I'd forgotten that.

I suppose, for me, HH is an example of what happens if you swallow some smaller slights/indignities/policies you completely disagree with. In her case, she's finally in a position now to really achieve some significant stuff as far as women are concerned. I'd say these are the first serious feminist policies I can remember a government enacting (being too young for the abortion act). She wouldn't be in this position if she'd done a Claire Short and stuck to her principles without compromise (not that I've anything against Short - but she's not in a position to do much about anything these days, is she?)

Swedes Tue 25-Nov-08 22:14:25

How Harriet Harman voted on key issues since 2001:

Has not voted on a freedom of information act.
Voted for introducing a smoking ban.
Voted for introducing ID cards.
Voted for introducing foundation hospitals.
Voted for introducing student top-up fees.
Voted for Labour's anti-terrorism laws.
Voted for the Iraq war.
Voted against investigating the Iraq war.
Voted for replacing Trident.
Voted for the hunting ban.
Voted for equal gay rights.

policywonk Tue 25-Nov-08 22:38:31

She has also proposed/enacted legislation on the following:

criminalising men who have sex with women who have been trafficked or are otherwise controlled for another's gain
a requirement for all public sector bodies to publish their gender pay gaps
scrap the defence of 'provocation' when men have killed their wives
given local authorities greater powers to regulate lap-dancing clubs
allow employers to give preferential treatment to women and ethnic minority candidates
outlaw age discrimination in the provision of goods and services
rights for mothers to breastfeed their babies in public

Swedes Tue 25-Nov-08 23:09:45

I'm not certain the proposals currently on the way through Parliament entirely close off the defence of provocation. Provocation is replaced with "words or conduct which leave a defendant feeling seriously wronged". I can't see how infidelity or nagging or other provocation might be necesarily excluded. We don't have a European purposive approach to the interpretation of legislation so we'll have to wait and see how this new legislation is interpreted in the courts.

Quattrocento Tue 25-Nov-08 23:47:37

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

Anna8888 Wed 26-Nov-08 09:18:05

Lack of brains is surely a pre-requisite for successful female socialists?

Ségolène Royal / Martine Aubry anyone? wink

Poohbah Wed 26-Nov-08 11:37:38

Swedes, that's interesting, in summary she seems to care less about our soldiers or the Iraqi's dying horrifically in Iraq than she does about fluffy cute little foxes, the word hypocrite comes to mind!!!

artichokes Wed 26-Nov-08 11:45:27

All her voting record shows is that she followed the Party whip. Had she not she would not now be a Minister.

As someone said below - you have to pick your fights as a Minister. If you are not willing to support the Party on most issues then you very quickly loose your job and the chances to change anything at all.

dittany Wed 26-Nov-08 13:28:30

Hadn't you heard? Harriet is held to a different standard from male MPs.

Once again, I didn't see Alan Johnson or David Cameron getting their voting record picked to pieces or insults made about their intelligence.

I'm glad a feminist like Harman is in government, she must have had to hang on by the skin of her teeth given the number of misogynist dinosaurs stomping about the Labour party.

Swedes Wed 26-Nov-08 13:44:17

Dittany - It sounds as though you like HH almost as much as you like Sarah Palin.

Quattrobeautiful Wed 26-Nov-08 19:06:38

I am gutted to have had a message deleted by Mumsnet. All I did was agree with what just about every serious paper has said about HH many times over.

It can't be the defamation risk - it's self-evidently true. Must be that MN think it's abusive?

Swedes Wed 26-Nov-08 21:55:42

Quattro - [grin

When i was younger I was told not to appear too bright or i would never get a husband because men would be intimidated by my brain! then as soon as i became an MP they said i was thick! Best to be thick skinned.... I did think even political life might be easier if you are a blonde with big tits.

Poohbah Thu 27-Nov-08 08:06:15

I reserve the same level of criticism for all I encounter who say one thing then do the other for their own personal gain.

Leftist beliefs surely incongruent with sending our dear sons and daughters into battle to be killed?

Schooling???? everyone should go to state school unless it's my own child whereupon I reserve the right to send them to a jolly good grammar because I wouldn't want them mixing with riff raff you know.

Feminist my arse.

policywonk Thu 27-Nov-08 09:28:27

Of course she's a feminist! How can you look at that list of legislative proposals and come to any other conclusion? You disagree with her about Iraq and about her schooling choices - fair enough. Doesn't mean she's not a feminist.

Swedes Thu 27-Nov-08 11:20:06

There's no doubt she's a feminist. And she has done some good things. But that's as it should be and it it doesn't mean she shouldn't be quizzed about the bits of her politics that are less palatable.

policywonk Thu 27-Nov-08 18:27:02

Oh yes, that's fair enough. HH does seem to be one of those politicians who draws a slightly disproportionate amount of ire, though. People seem to absolutely loathe her (more so than other senior Labour figures) and I've never really understood why - is it just that she's a middle-class female? As dittany says, plenty of senior Labour politicians backed the Iraq war.

dittany Thu 27-Nov-08 18:33:05

Swedes you don't have to like someone to think that people are treating them in a sexist manner. Do you have difficulty in recognising double standards?

Actually I do quite like Harman now - I had no strong opinion of her before but reading about what she's achieved and tried to achieve in government makes me admire her politics. She hasn't sold out women the way many female politicians have to do in order to get on.

LittleBella Thu 27-Nov-08 23:16:36

She has sold out women. She sold out single mothers when she was first a minister and her political masters told her that she had to stand by and let lone parents and their children suffer appalling hardship for a couple of years until they made it all OK again by bringing in tax credits.

Well it wasn't OK. For many of the families who saw that benefit cut, it was a horrible couple of years. And she stood by that policy, she was the minster who enacted it and she didn't resign in protest. I can't see that as anything other than selling out women and children tbh. Maybe I'm just an old harridan but for me her voting record has never erased that particularly shameful episode.

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