This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Could Harriet Harman be the next leader of the Labour Party?

Simple answer: no. But neither do I think should she be underestimated.

Westminster seems to be rife with speculation that the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party is lining herself up to replace Gordon Brown. The rumour mill is in full swing.

She is certainly popular with activists and party members. She got a good reception in my own constituency, Islington, when she addressed members during the Deputy Leadership contest. But then you might say you would expect that in a place like Islington North. She has been around a long time, has good name recognition – compared to many of Labour’s front bench women – and is obviously very ambitious.

It was a surprise to me that she won the Deputy Leadership election but this probably goes to show how hard she works and how well liked she is with party members and the unions. She has certainly fought her own personal battles with colleagues over policy and I suppose this means she is something of a survivor.

But I think Harriet (for all her qualities) would be a stretch as leader. I just don’t see it.

I don’t think other Labour MPs would vote for her and the Right of the Party would simply not allow it. It would lead to a mass civil war. I also think there are stronger characters.

However, it is impossible to predict what will happen when and if Gordon Brown goes. In fact it is really too early to speculate. Who knows what the circumstances will be like in a year’s time or eighteen months? Everything is possible.

But for now, the Prime Minister is not going anywhere this side of a General Election. At the moment he is the best person to do the job.

And anyway, speculation like this isn’t really helpful. Is Labour really going to replace its leader in the middle of the worst economic recession in seventy years? No.

We should stop our naval gazing and get on with sorting out the economy. The public are the priority. Labour needs to remember this and so do those who are angling for positions now.


Miller 2.0 said...

Well, she won as the least hated.

"I don’t think other Labour MPs would vote for her and the Right of the Party would simply not allow it."

She got enough nominations, and that's what really counts, bearing in mind that MPs are only a third of the electoral college (and rightly so - their job is to represent us, not the other way round).

As you say, she is a lot more popular with activists than a lot of people think, and is married to Jack Dromey. Plus, she's still quite a way rightwards of people like Cruddas.

I think she covers all constituencies apart from the public.

Contenders like Purnell have a much bigger problem when it comes to the party not allowing them to become leader.

Alex Finnegan said...

I think its a pretty strong statement to say that she won only because she was the least hated. I don't think Labour Party members hated the choices for Deputy Leader - there were some very good ones in fact - but she pipped it to the post because Cruddas voters gave her their second preferences. There was the perception that she was slightly more left wing than her colleagues which helped.

It's also not just about left or right. Its about judgement and quality. Cruddas is simply a better politician, I think more authentic and genuine and bright. We might come from different wings of the Labour Party but I can recognise his strengths. I don't know whether I would vote for him but I like him. I also think he has more of an appeal to the public.

What is the problem with Purnell?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that Harman is unlikely to cut the mustard. The problem, for me, is that I don't see any other particularly attractive options to Brown (including Harman). Depending on the candidate there is too much youth, lack of experience, lack of charisma, too low a public profile, and, an unsympathetic public. Certainly, there is no-one with the communication skills of Cameron and Blair. Something which we all know is, sadly, required now. Harman is up there with the best of the alternatives. But if the best is only mediocre, why create turmoil prior to the election.