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Webchat with Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman MP; THURSDAY 7 AUGUST 10.30 - 11.30AM

(74 Posts)
KateHMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 05-Aug-14 16:59:16

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman MP will be joining us at MNHQ on Thursday 7 August between 10.30 - 11.30AM.

Harriet is Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, she headed Labour's response to the Leveson inquiry and recently made headlines for speaking out about sexism and inequality in Gordon Brown's government.

Harriet was first elected as an MP aged 32 when she was 7 months pregnant, and has long campaigned for gender equality, better maternity pay and conditions and is a long term advocate of women-only shortlists to increase the number for female MPs.

Come and chat to Harriet this Thursday at 10.30AM or do post a question in advance on this thread.

Angeleno Wed 06-Aug-14 15:42:02

Hi Harriet,

If I remember right, you spoke out against Page 3 in the 80s, long before it was fashionable to do so. Did you find it difficult to hold your nerve, when you were in such a small minority?


PetulaGordino Wed 06-Aug-14 16:03:27

currently domestic violence refuges are being closed across the country. this puts enormous numbers of vulnerable women and children at increased risk. while there should of course be provision for men who are victims of dv, this should not be at the expense of places for women.

from Polly Neate, chief executive of Women's Aid: "There are areas where there aren't any refuges, other areas are specifying beds must be for local women only and some areas are commissioning so-called refuges which are not refuges... We thought we had won the argument that refuges need to be a national network but we are having arguments of 40 years ago all over again. There has to be a national network and national funding to support it."

what do labour plan to do about provision for victims of domestic violence?

LineRunner Wed 06-Aug-14 16:20:03

When the PIE* stuff emerged, why didn't you just immediately say sorry?

*Paedophile Information Exchange

FrankSaysNo Wed 06-Aug-14 18:41:31

Why do you want the dissolution of the nuclear family?

AskBasil Wed 06-Aug-14 21:50:30

Why do you think the left has been so unwilling to accept that sexism still exists? Are the brocialists any more willing to listen to women now, than they were when you first entered politics?

Crumblemum Thu 07-Aug-14 06:56:13

Hi Harriet

Good to see you on. I've been really impressed with your staying power over all these years, I guess you must feel you can really make a difference, which is great as I find myself feeling overwhelmingly cynical at times. As someone who's been at the front line of politics so long, what can you say to try and cure my cynicism.

pinkballoon19 Thu 07-Aug-14 09:22:02

Hi Harriet!
Just wondering, as Shadow Sec for Culture, Media & Sport, what's your fave play, book & film, and what were the last things you saw/read?

brandnewinformation Thu 07-Aug-14 09:23:49

I often think of the nickname 'Harriet Harperson' in the context of politically correct language and its importance in gradually changing attitudes in society. How much progress do you think has been made on this front in politics/the media, and to what extent do you think any such progress has filtered down through the rest of society?

woeface Thu 07-Aug-14 09:27:58

Hello Harriet

I was genuinely shocked by your recent speech in which you describe how vicious (and bloody childish) sexism can be in politics - even at a high level. It makes me feel utterly hopeless. Clearly politicians on both sides pay lip service to equality - but don't actually believe in it. What can be done?

JustOneCube Thu 07-Aug-14 09:32:33

Hi Harriet,

It seems like a lot of the party's 'new blood' are related to big names (Will Straw, Euan Blair, Stephen Kinnock, your son) - do you worry that it makes the party look nepotistic? How does Labour plan on encouraging more people who aren't political insiders to stand?

shinysparklythings Thu 07-Aug-14 09:35:17

The education system is currently in meltdown with good teachers leaving the profession due to the ridiculous pressures put on them. On top of this Gove--insert whichever word you like here-- has made so many awful changes with no real thought (I will admit there are a few good ones) that teachers/parents and students don't really know what is going on. (especially in terms of levels and GCSE`s where the exam boards also seem confused?!?) What would Labour do to help rectify this problem.

TinkerWriterSmilerFly Thu 07-Aug-14 09:41:41

Being in the minority as a female MP, do you get fed up with always being asked questions about sexism and the difficulties of being a woman in politics?

sawdustanddiamonds Thu 07-Aug-14 09:41:50

Hi Harriet,

Another question further to the speech that woeface mentioned. There's currently a Mumsnet campaign to reform PMQs - arguably the pinnacle of the sort of macho, sexist culture you're talking about. What are your experiences of PMQs?

Rhyrhy83 Thu 07-Aug-14 09:49:42

Hi Harriet,

Just wondering when the government are going to tackle absent dads/parents & MAKE them contribute financially to the raising of their children. It is too easy for men especially to shirk their responsibilities. How about them having to do community service if they refuse to pay or get a job. Im sure a high-vis waistcoat with 'Does not pay for his/her child' on the back may do the trick!

everytimeabellrings Thu 07-Aug-14 09:52:13

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

IAmGroot Thu 07-Aug-14 09:53:16

Hi Harriet - thanks for coming to speak to us today. Have you read any of the Booker list sure you have loads of free time for that, and if so, which is your fave?

Isitmebut Thu 07-Aug-14 10:05:41

Hi Harriet …. Based on the government, banking and consumption figures, the UK economy and its record spending on ‘fixed costs’ was mainly built upon the record tax receipts of the (then) record employment, record Investment Banking/speculation taxes, record high street lending to businesses and consumers, and the resulting record consumer spending/debt – that was likely to dissipate at the first major recession.

The public having enjoyed that testosterone fuelled record spending are in no mood to see testosterone made annual spending cuts and even BEGIN to pay off our national debts.

I’m tempted to ask you if you thought that a woman Chancellor using the basic financial principal of ‘good housekeeping’ would have done a better job over the past 17-years, but I’d rather look forward, so in your senior position within Westminster and access to chat around the Westminster water-cooler I’d like to ask you the following;

Q: Bearing in mind Labour is likely to form the next government in 2015, who would you tip to be the next female Chancellor? And so as not to put you on the spot, if it helps, please feel free to pick a female MP from either side of the political aisle

LadyAnansi Thu 07-Aug-14 10:18:30

In a speech recently, you said that you would have been made Deputy Prime Minister if it wasn't for the fact that you are a woman. Do you have any regrets having said this, given the reaction that you've received?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Aug-14 10:29:55

Hello all,
Harriet is here in the office and will be getting going very shortly.

HarrietHarmanMP7630 Thu 07-Aug-14 10:33:12

Hi, I'm here answering your questions and responding to your comments.
And I wish Mumsnet was around when my children were young!

DanSmith Thu 07-Aug-14 10:37:08

Hi Harriet - if Ed loses in 2015 (fingers crossed he won't), will you be throwing your hat in the ring?

HarrietHarmanMP7630 Thu 07-Aug-14 10:37:45


Why do you want the dissolution of the nuclear family?

Hi FrankSaysNo

I don’t. But families come in all shapes and sizes and all are important. And some families start as “nuclear” and then end up in divorce so we should support all families – especially with children. Government shouldn’t have a policy to try and make people get into or stay in nuclear families. Their “Married Man’s Tax Allowance” wont cut the divorce rate or mend any marriage which is breaking. I don’t agree with government using tax policy to “send a signal” about the importance of people staying in a nuclear family. Especially when there are many ministers who are themselves divorced.

jennyohenry Thu 07-Aug-14 10:38:32


I appreciate that you have tried to do some good things for women, and for that I thank you.

However, you have been resoundingly anti-male in a number of your speeches.

When are you going to start talking about the very real, undeniable, inequalities faced by men in modern Britain?

About half of domestic violence victims are male (this figure is just over half or just under half, depending on whose stats you use), but there are NO shelters for abused men in my county and when my brother was stabbed by his wife, his local women's shelter who he phoned for advice laughed at him and told he must be the aggressor. When are you going to fight for equal funding for male victims of DV?

When are you going to do something to halt the worrying lack of achievement of boys in education? Forcing boys to fit into a mould created for girls is NOT the answer? You might not like it, but me and other mums here can tell you for fact, boys and girls are (for the most part) different.

When are you going to address the disparity between the huge numbers of homeless men and funding/shelters for homeless men?

When are you going to address the inequality in our court system which gives grossly harsher sentences to men. The idea that "women aren't made for prison" is outright disgusting. NOR ARE MEN.

Those of us with little boys are genuinely frightened about what kind of world they are going to grow up in, where they are constantly told that they are "bad" and treated like defective girls.

Harriet, I think you are in danger of leaving a legacy of being a bigot and a misandrist. I don't think that's correct, but your words and actions need to be more equal and less anti-male.

HarrietHarmanMP7630 Thu 07-Aug-14 10:40:16


Hi Harriet,

If I remember right, you spoke out against Page 3 in the 80s, long before it was fashionable to do so. Did you find it difficult to hold your nerve, when you were in such a small minority?


Hi Angeleno

Clare Short was the MP who started the No to P3 campaign in the 1980’s. She got vilified for it….and that still happens. How can it be so outrageous to be saying that in the 21st Century women should aspire to more than posing with no top on and being ogled by men in what is supposed to be a family newspaper. I think the things I’ve campaigned for more women MPs, tougher laws against domestic violence, more childcare, better maternity pay and leave…are all straightforward important issues. Yet, over the years they’ve attracted so much flack!

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