Harriet Harman


Harriet Harman was re-elected MP for Camberwell and Peckham on May 7th 2015 with 32614 votes, taking 63.3% of the vote.

Having obtained a degree in Politics from York University, Harriet qualified as a Solicitor and her first job as a solicitor was at Brent Law Centre in 1974.

At Brent Law Centre, Harriet was legal advisor to the Trico Equal Pay strike committee and the Grunwick Strike Committee. She represented tenants and residents groups – including in a notorious case against noise nuisance from Futters, a local factory. Michael Howard, then a barrister, represented Futters but the local residents, represented by Harriet, won.

Harriet then became Legal Officer to Liberty (then the National Council for Civil Liberties) where she took the first cases for women under the then new Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination Acts.

At NCCL, Harriet also campaigned for prisoners’ rights, for a Human Rights Act and against Government secrecy. She was prosecuted for contempt for showing a journalist documents already read out in open court. The case was against the Home Office for keeping a prisoner for 6 months in a “control unit”. She was found guilty of contempt by the British courts, but later found not guilty on appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. The UK Government was ordered to pay Harriet’s legal costs.

As NCCL Legal Officer Harriet represented Brenda Clarke in a successful landmark Sex Discrimination Act case against her employer, Ely Kinnock, who had discriminated against women part-timers through a redundancy scheme which made part-timers redundant before full-timers.

From the 1970s, Harriet campaigned for increased women’s representation in the Labour Party – more women Labour councillors, more women Labour MPs and for a Labour leadership team of three of which at least one should be a woman.

Harriet was first elected MP for Peckham (now Camberwell and Peckham) in 1982. The MP Harry Lambourne died in 1982, causing a by-election. Harriet was elected – when she was 7 months pregnant. At that time, Labour had 268 MPs compared to Tory 339 MPs and she came into Parliament as one of only 10 Labour women MPs.

After joining Parliament in 1982, a Parliament of 97 % men, Harriet set up the first Parliamentary Labour Party Women’s Group.

In 1984, Harriet was appointed by Labour leader Neil Kinnock to Labour’s front bench as Shadow Minister for Social Services.

From 1987-1992, Harriet was Labour Spokesperson for Health – deputy to Robin Cook – campaigning against long waiting lists and Tory cuts in health spending.

To prevent Labour having all-male shadow cabinets, Harriet campaigned for places to be reserved for women in the shadow cabinet. In 1989, 3 places for women were added.

Harriet served as deputy to Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown, as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1992-1994), playing a key role in building public confidence in Labour as a party which would invest in health and education and would tax fairly.

As Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, under the leadership of John Smith MP, Harriet led Labour’s campaign against the Tory decision to put 17.5% VAT on gas and electricity.

Harriet fought for more Labour women MPs through ‘women-only shortlists’. The 1993 Labour Party Conference introduced the rule for ‘women-only shortlists’ in 50% of all target seats. This policy led to the election of 101 Labour women MPs in 1997.

In 1993, Harriet was elected by a national ballot of Labour Party members to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party and was re-elected each year till Labour came into government and she became a minister.

She was a member of the leadership team with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown re-shaping the Labour Party and preparing the successful 1997 election campaign.

In 1994-5, whilst as Shadow Employment Secretary of State she formulated the policy for the National Minimum Wage, devising and campaigning for Labour’s commitment to establish a Low Pay Commission. In 1998 the Labour Government passed the National Minimum Wage Act and set up the Low Pay Commission.

Between 1995 and the 1997 General Election, Harriet served first as Shadow Secretary of State for Health (1995-6), and then as Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security (1996-7).

In 2007 Harriet was elected as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. She was appointed by the Prime Minister to serve as Chair of the Labour Party, Leader of the House of Commons, Secretary of State for Equalities, Minister for Women and Lord Privy Seal. After the 2010 general election she became shadow international development secretary.

In October 2011 she was appointed shadow culture media and sport secretary. In 2015, she became Leader of the Opposition.

Harriet is married to Jack Dromey MP.

Constituency: Camberwell and Peckham

Date of Birth: 30 July 1950

Email: harriet.harman.mp@parliament.uk

Party: Labour

Personal Website: http://www.harrietharman.org/

Westminster Address: House of Commons

Westminster Tel: 0207 219 4218

Twitter: @HarrietHarman

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