Photo by Dan Kitwood
Artillery Row

Forty years a politician

Harriet Harman’s legacy will forever be tainted by her blinding ideology

Harriet Harman’s forty years in parliament are coming to a close.

The former Labour deputy leader will not run for her Camberwell and Peckham seat in the next general elections, bringing to an end a long career spearheaded by feminism and the fight for gender equality.

In 2014, commentator Peter Hitchens visited legendary Refuge founder Erin Pizzey to borrow her copy of “The Family Way” — a 1990 pamphlet written by what he termed “that Terrifying Trinity of Harriet Harman, Anna Coote and Patricia Hewitt”.

Published by the Institute for Public Policy Research, the paper called for parties to abandon the Victorian concept of the family as a private, self-contained unit with a breadwinning father married to a non-employed caring mother, and instead accept that fewer people will marry and a greater proportion will divorce.

Seven year on, it was Pizzey herself who shocked actor Greg Ellis, when she quoted Harman’s “The Family Way” message, as the two discussed society’s assault on masculinity. “We have a woman called Harriet Harman,” Pizzey told Ellis, “she makes the statement in this particular policy paper that men are not necessarily harmonious to family life — how about that as a labour policy?”

The increase is viewed by many as an insult to hard working women

Marriage demeaning and father belittling, will be Harriet Harman’s legacy for many. In 1990 she asserted that “it cannot be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social cohesion”, while in 2017 even though still married herself, the Camberwell and Peckham MP wished for a ban on politicians talking about the importance of marriage and of how damaging divorce could be.

“Harman’s ideology is about the destruction of the family,” Erin Pizzey told me, “to feminist Harman, men are always the oppressors and women are always the victims — for fifty years her attitude was that the future of family is women and children, not fathers.”

A sentiment echoed by journalist Leo McKinstry who condemned the “high Priestess of British Feminism” for declaring marriage irrelevant to public policy and for describing high rates of separation as a positive development that reflects on “greater choice” for couples.

“Feminist zealots have told us that family structure is irrelevant,” wrote McKinstry, “fathers are unnecessary for child-rearing and marriage is outdated” views that he argued have resulted in rising crime, benefits dependency, poverty and the rising costs to public services. “Neither the facts nor the passage of time have changed Harman’s mind,” he added, pointing to her South London constituency holding one of the highest rates of lone parenthood in the country, while being one of the most deprived areas in Britain — “yet in Harriet Harman’s mind these two points are not connected.”

Ideology might cloud Harman’s vision, but the 31 years that have passed since the publication of “The Family Way” have provided us with countless studies and extensive data concerning the devastating impact of fatherlessness. Warren Farrell’s detailed The Boy Crisis points to over 70 areas where boys and girls are negatively affected by father absence. The disturbing statistics include all US school shooters being fatherless along with the large majority of male US prisoners. Fatherless boys are also more likely to be homeless, depressed, get expelled from school, commit suicide, fail academically and be diagnosed with ADHD.

McKinstry mentions the UK Institute for Public Policy Research’s assertion that a stable background means you are less likely to be out of work, live off the State, become single parents or even smoke.

Harman’s quest for gender equality has indeed increased the number of women in parliament but being the result of forced positive discrimination is seen by many not as progress but as a set back. Achieved through Labour’s famous All Women Shortlist, the increase is viewed by many as an insult to hard working women for whom competence matters.

“How patronising it is to women to be told you have to be part of a quota, that you can’t be chosen on merit,” one woman told me. “This is a premise based on hypocrisy, contradicting the feminist argument that women should be judged on real achievements.”

The gender pay gap issue is misleadingly presented

As I hear Harman boast about the higher number of female MPs, I think of Jordan Peterson’s condemnation of the female politicians who in 2015 were appointed to Trudeau’s government as part of a forced equality measure — these women should be ashamed of themselves, argued Peterson, echoing the sentiments of many, for accepting positions based not on their qualification but “on their genitalia”.

The AWS website considers the doubt the short list casts in the public’s mind is of little significance because “most people cannot say which method MPs were selected by, and women MPs are never introduced on current affairs programmes as ‘X who was selected from a controversial all-women shortlist’”.

In other words, it is OK for a woman to qualify to receive an Oscar, win an award or any recognition based on her gender, just as long as the public is kept in the dark, never knowing if it was earned for demonstrating outstanding talent or if it was granted for the sake of meeting a set quota.

Harman also made it her mission to tackle the gender pay gap. “We have to tackle unequal pay,” she chanted, proposing compulsory equal pay audits in both the public and private sector. Had Harman examined the facts, she would have seen how the gender pay gap issue is misleadingly presented. It is wrong to look only at the amount earned by each gender and simply compare the figures — pay is determined by the actual type of job, the worker’s experience, the number of years occupying their position and their qualifications. All these factors need to be taken into account. “When you compare women and men in the same occupations with the same skills, education, hours of work, and many other factors that go into determining pay,” explains economist Thomas Sowell, “the differences in incomes shrink to the vanishing point, and in some cases, the women earn more than comparable men.”

Harriett Harman’s legacy will forever be tainted by her blinding ideology. “Harriet Harman is an intersectional feminist to her backbone,” says author Robin Aitken, “fervent advocate of identitarian politics — exactly the type of Labour politician who has done lasting damage to that party’s relationship with its traditional working class supporters who do not like or sympathise with her extreme progressive views.”

So deep was the Labour MP’s resentment of Margaret Thatcher that when she produced a leaflet on powerful British women, Harman astonishingly neglected to include the first female head of a British political party. Nor did she mention Thatcher’s three consecutive general election wins and her record as the UK’s longest-serving prime minister of the last century.

Perhaps most telling however is the story of when in 1982 at the age of 32, Harman was breast-feeding her baby in the Commons when Mrs Thatcher approached her. “I was in great conflict,” Harman told The Mail years later. “I wanted her to see my baby and the Prime Minister was obviously going to admire my baby, but I was torn, I did not want the eyes of a Tory Prime Minister to fall on my baby.” Harman walked away as fast as she could, and Margaret Thatcher did not see the child.

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