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Jerry Hayes

Putting the Case for Harman

June 3rd, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

As someone who has made a fitness video with Heather Mills, been asked by Mark Thomas to dress up in a Penis suit and absailed across my constituency dressed as a chicken, I feel that I am more than well qualified to comment on the Labour leadership election. Sadly, we are all going to be bombarded with the most pointless drivel from those wanting to,” recapture the heart and soul of the Party, reconnect with the electorate and listen”. Well, the people have spoken. The bastards.

The reason it is so pointless to recite these mantras is because  the only question really worth asking the candidates is who is going to win them the election, or at least, who has the best chance.

Like Thatcher, Blair was regarded as outsider, not really of the Party, but parachuted in as a winner. But like all those with large majorities, after a while they tend to chew carpets, do silly things and equate the national interest with their own. They rarely admit  mistakes, brazen the most stupid of decisions out and dragoon their lobby fodder into defending the indefensible. Remember Thatcher’s proud boast, ” never apologise never explain”?  That’s when mindlessly, ” following the line”, becomes a badge of honour and a pathway to promotion. In 1983, I remember being open mouthed at a new colleague making a speech supporting one of the more bizarre and unpopular parts of policy. I turned to the chap sitting next to me and said, “well, that’s him stuffed”.  ”No, no”, said the old hand, “he’ll get a job in the next reshuffle”. He did. It was Michael Howard.

So how on earth is Labour going to pick a winner when they are fighting a coalition that actually believes in consensus government? What actually do they  home in on to attack?  The cuts that they were going to implement themselves a few months later? Hardly. The trouble is until the candidates present a realistic fiscal policy, they might as well go home and watch the soaps.

So who have they got. Ed Balls, this morning, had the lowest approval rating of any recorded politician, a staggering minus thirty nine percent. Even Saddam Hussein, dead, would do better. He is deeply unpopular with backbenchers, not just as the creator of Brown, but for bully boy arm breaking and knowing where the bodies are buried. Good heavens, he buried most of them. So he will lose.

Ed Miliband is a geek, though deeply popular with the grassroots,  just somehow just doesn’t look or sound quite right. His recent press release asks that,”our party does something that it hasn’t done for decades, have an open and honest discussion about our fundamental direction”. Oh yeah, isn’t that what happened in the eighties? No surprise that Tony Benn supports him. And David? Of course he’ll win, but lacks the killer instinct. Rather than a full frontal attack on Brown he preferred a strategy of nudges and winks. And David is a winker of immense proportions. But it would be delightfully Orwellian to enter an election campaign asking for a Vote for Big Brother. What is so hilarious is that the best website is from James Garner MP, a spoof. Warning. Once the electorate finds you a joke serious trouble is afoot. Remember how Spitting Image destroyed David Steel.

The saddest loss in this election is Harriet Harman. People see her as a stern humourless matron of feminism, but she has achieved more for equality and diversity than just about anyone save Leo Abse. People forget what she has had to put up with. When she was elected there were no women’s lavatories in the Commons, just doors marked “Members Only”, which sounded like the porn mags she tried to ban. Her colleagues tended to be florid faced, dandruff blown, beer sodden trade unionists, whose idea of female emancipation was allowing the missus to watch him and his mates play darts down the pub on a Sunday, before rushing home to cook the joint. Women were patronized and abused in the Commons in those days, not in a deliberate and nasty way, just that some didn’t know any better. Like Edwina Currie, Gill Knight, Elaine Kellett-Bowman, Claire Short and Audrey Wise, they fearlessly blazed a trail to give women a fair crack of the whip. Harman was also a formidable Shadow Health Secretary. We often joined forces. This is a woman of character and belief founded on principle. She’s often wrong. But at least she’s not a mealy mouthed snivelling little aparatchic, sniffing the air like the other Meercats for the main chance. The Labour Party’s loss is ours.

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