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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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 13:44:17

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

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.

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.

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!!!

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

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

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

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.

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 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 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?)

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.

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!

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.

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

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?

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.

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.

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