Harriet Ruth Harman (born 30 July 1950) is a British politician, Member of Parliament (MP) for Camberwell and Peckham and the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Following Gordon Brown's resignation on 11 May 2010 after Labour's defeat in the General Election, she became the interim Leader of the Opposition until 25 September 2010 when Ed Miliband took over the role. She is currently the Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Minister for International Development. She is renowned for her unabashed feminism, which has earned her the nickname 'Harriet Harperson'.
- Not all civil servants admire strong political leadership. But if you want to change things for the better you need strong political leadership.
- On BBC Radio 4's Today programme, 20 March, 2007.
- He is demanding of his colleagues, but he is demanding of himself because he wants to change things for the better.
- Yes I did when I was at university 30 years ago, just for a short time.
- On smoking cannabis, 20 July, 2007.
- I am in the Labour Party because I am a feminist. I am in the Labour Party because I believe in equality.
- In an interview following her election as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, 10 November 2007.
- Hague: I'd like to congratulate the Leader of the House on being the first female Labour member ever to answer Prime Minister's Questions. She must be proud, three decades on, to be following in the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher, who we on this side of the House and the Prime Minister so admire.
Harman: Well I thank him for his congratulations but I would ask him, why is he asking the questions today? Because he is not the Shadow Leader of the House - the Shadow Leader of the House is sitting next to him! Is this the situation in the modern Conservative Party; that women should be seen but not heard? And if I may, perhaps I could offer the Shadow Leader of the House a bit of sisterly advice: she should not let him get away with it!
Hague: Turning to domestic issues, I was going to be nice to the Rt. Hon. Lady - she has had a difficult week and she had to explain yesterday that she dresses in accordance with wherever she goes; she wears a helmet to a building site; wears Indian clothes to Indian parts of her constituency; presumably, when she goes to a Cabinet meeting, she dresses as a clown.
Harman: Well I would just start by saying that if I'm looking for advice on what to wear and what not to wear, the very last man I would look to for advice would be the man in the baseball cap!
- It wouldn't be possible because there aren't enough airports for all the men who'd want to flee the country.
- Harman: Commenting on the question of Sarah Palin, I think that men in politics underestimate women in politics at their peril, and I think that - although I strongly, strongly disagree with very many of the policies she's putting forward - I think she's speaking to the fact that many women feel that they're working hard, they're bringing up their families, they've got a viewpoint on life and the political system excludes them and she has touched that nerve in America. I mean, I don't agree with her politics but I think that she has touched a nerve and I think that then places a big challenge to the Democrats to make sure that they, as a Party which has long championed equality and equality for women that they actually match them and gear up their act.
David Dimbleby: You admire her?
Harman: I think that she's tough, I don't agree with her politics, I wouldn't vote for her if I was in the States, but I think that she is impressive, yes. But I would rather see the Democrats getting, you know, an even more impressive woman right up at the front.
- During an episode of Question Time, 18 September, 2008
- The Labour Party is the sister Party for the Democrats and their progressive views are the ones that we are most aligned with.
- On Question Time, 18 September, 2008.
- I am a very big admirer of Hillary's and I am an admirer of Obama as well.
- On Question Time, 18 September, 2008.
- I don’t agree with all-male leaderships. Men cannot be left to run things on their own. I think it’s a thoroughly bad thing to have men-only leadership.
- In a newspaper interview, 2 August, 2009.
- While the happy couple are enjoying the thrill of the rose garden, the in-laws are saying that they are just not right for each other. We keep telling them that they cannot pay couples to stay together, and it is clear that it will take more than a three-quid-a-week tax break to keep this marriage together.
- This is a very crucial period and we have got five fantastic candidates. All of them would make excellent leaders of the Party.
- Comments regarding the Labour Leadership Election, 13 June 2010.
- The Chancellor has delivered his first budget but it's the same old Tories; hitting hardest at those who can least afford it and breaking their promises. This is true to form for the Tories, but it includes things that the Liberal Democrats have always fought against. Surely they cannot vote for this.
- This reckless Tory Budget would not be possible without the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems denounced early cuts; now they are backing them. They denounced VAT increases; now they are voting for them. How could they support everything they fought against? How could they let down everyone who voted for them? How could they let the Tories so exploit them? Do they not see that they are just a fig leaf? The Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary is just the Chancellor's fig leaf. The Deputy Prime Minister is just the Prime Minister's fig leaf. The Lib Dems' leaders have sacrificed everything they ever stood for to ride in ministerial cars and to ride on the coat tails of the Tory Government. Twenty-two Liberal Democrat ministerial jobs have been bought at the cost of tens of thousands of other people's. The Liberal Democrats used to stand up for people's jobs, but now they only stand up for their own. Look at the Business Secretary, the right hon. Member for Twickenham. Mr Speaker,the House has noticed his remarkable transformation in the past few weeks from national treasure to Treasury poodle. They have no mandate for this Budget; this Budget has no legitimacy. Even if the Lib Dems will not speak up for jobs, we will. Even if they will not fight for fairness, we will, and even if they will not protest against Tory broken promises, we will.
- Although it was a very close election, I don't think it was a polarised election. It was a tough fought contest but it was not a divisive contest. Although he won by a whisker I think the party will unite behind Ed Miliband.
- On the Labour Leadership Election result, September 27, 2010.
- Although he is disappointed, I know he will step forward and play a really important part in Labour’s future.
- On David Miliband's narrow defeat to become Leader of the Labour Party, September 27, 2010.
- Now, many of us in the Labour Party are conservationists - and we all love the red squirrel. But there is one ginger rodent which we never want to see again - Danny Alexander.
- At the Scottish Labour Conference, 30 October, 2010. Harman later apologised for the comment.
- If he votes against, that's the only principled position. If he abstains, it's a cop-out; if he votes for, it's a sell-out.
- On Nick Clegg and his vote to increase tuition fees, 30 November 2010.
- I'm afraid you gave up the right to pontificate on social mobility when you abolished educational maintenance allowance [EMA], trebled tuition fees and betrayed a generation of young people.
- For many young people, social mobility now means a bus down to the job centre.
- Next he will be foxtrotting down to the Tory party's fundraising ball, auctioning City internships for the children of the highest bidder. Is that not the Government's idea of social mobility?
- I'm sure nobody wants to know this, but my husband does all the cleaning - rather too much cleaning. It is too clean, the house!
- Evening Standard, Mon 31 Oct 2011, p16
Quotes about Harman
- She is one of certain, particular women who are of the opinion that they have a god-given right to be amongst the chosen.
- Gwyneth Dunwoody, Harman's ex-colleague, during Harman's Deputy Leadership bid of 2007.
- She is either thick or criminally disingenuous [...] Her only policy, her only raison d’être, is a particularly vacuous feminism dating from a sixth-form common room in about 1973. Were this a serious commitment and grounded in reality, one might respect her for it and even agree. But it never is grounded in reality. It is the perpetual shrieking of an idiot.
- Rob Liddle, the Spectator, "Harriet Harman is either thick or criminally disingenuous", 5 August, 2009.