You Ask The Questions: Harriet Harman MP

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party answers your quesions, including whether multiculturalism has failed and if she, as a feminist, is proud of Mrs Thatcher

Why has Gordon Brown made such a poor job of being PM after waiting so long for the top job?

Henry Darlow

Richmond



Before he was PM, Gordon wasn't just waiting around – he was being chancellor and sorting out the economy. Since he's been Prime Minister, the Government has brought in a Bill to cut carbon emissions, made a new priority of affordable housing, set up a massive programme for new youth services and is setting up a new apprenticeship programme. I'm sure those things matter in Richmond as well as in Peckham.



After Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Rock, the missing data disasters, cash for honours, the David Abrahams affair and Brown's dithering about a general election, could we trust New Labour to organise a party in a brewery?

Jim Miller

by email



After full employment, low inflation, doubling aid to the developing world, better schools and hospitals, higher pensions and free travel for pensioners, longer maternity leave and more nurseries ... we are too busy to be organising a party in a brewery.



As minister for equality, will you please oppose this racist idea of charging immigrants from outside the EU more to come here? It is grossly unfair.

EwomaN

London



Britain is a better place because of hard-working immigrants. But there are implications for public services when there are changes in local population. This fund will help deal with that and is a sensible idea.



You seem to have disappeared since winning the deputy leadership. Where have you been?

Jaime Cruz

by email



Look on my website www.harrietharman.org if you want to see my blogs for where I have been. Next weekend I'm in Birmingham at Labour's spring conference.



As Leader of the House, will you be initiating any action to allay public anxiety over the financial claims made by MPs including the Speaker?

C Stables

by email



MPs need an office to be able to do their work on behalf of their constituents. So the office allowances are important. But of course we need clear rules and they need to be obeyed. We're toughening them up. But I don't accept the idea that we are all in it for the money! And as Leader of the House I'm sorting out a new system so that we don't have to vote on our own pay increases.

Were you proud of Gordon Brown's "British jobs for British workers" campaign?

Daniel Sheridan

Cornwall



We've got 600,000 job vacancies – everyone who can work, should.



Do you think that multiculturalism as a policy has failed?

Brendan V

by email



No, I think it's one of Britain's great strengths. This country's success has been built not just on the work of English Welsh and Scots but on successive waves of migrants. But we shouldn't have segregation. It's about people being able to be proud of their different backgrounds but sharing a common future. Diversity makes Britain stronger and more successful in a global economy.



Will the Government actually act to punish men who use prostitutes rather than continue the failed policy of criminalising the poor women who sell sex?

Bronwyn M

Manchester



I think we should – and we are looking at how they do just that in other countries. Health and safety laws prevent women working in unsafe factories, yet our laws allow women to be bought for sex. I just do not accept that prostitution is a reasonable choice for women. It is exploitation of women by men and we should expect more from the relations between women and men in the 21st century than women being bought for sex.



Do you think Westminster can still be a hard place for a woman to succeed?

Beth D

by email



The more women there are in Parliament, the more we can do for women in the country. When I was first an MP, only 3 per cent were women and it was grim. I was one of only 10 Labour women. Now because there are 97 of us, we are more powerful. But we are still outnumbered four to one by men, so more progress is needed.



As a feminist, are you proud of Margaret Thatcher?

Robert Haw

Islington



No, because she was out to prove she was as every bit as nasty as all the men in her cabinet. Feminism is about progressive politics and solidarity with other women. Thatcher was neither.



There is still a significant wage gap between men and women in this country. What will you do to tackle it?

Sophie Hardwick

by email



Some tough measures in our new Equality Bill which will come out later this year. I just don't believe women are less committed, less hard-working or less able than men. So they shouldn't be paid less.



PMQs have become irritatingly, if not degradingly, banal. Can some dignity be instilled?

John Romer

Ealing

Not while David Cameron just uses it for playground taunts.



You have spoken in the past about boosting democracy. So how can you be against proportional representation?

Ruth Coleman

Ipswich



We have introduced proportional representation in European elections, Scottish council elections and London Assembly elections. We'll shortly be publishing a review of how the new systems worked. But the evidence suggested is that it doesn't boost turnout and people find it complicated.



Isn't it wrong that so much money was spent on a deputy leadership contest and would you support a cap?

Mary Woods

Cardiff



Yes, and I proposed a cap at the outset of the campaign which was not agreed. But now I'm deputy leader I will make sure that at the next internal election there will be a cap.



How many of the MPs in your party are honest in their financial affairs?

Peter Dickinson

by email



I don't know of any that aren't. If I thought anyone wasn't, I'd report them.



Is it true that you remortgaged your house to help fund your deputy leadership campaign?

Richard MontgomerY

by email



Yes. And I trust Alistair Darling will keep interest rates low! But internal elections shouldn't be a spending arms race any more than the general election. Spending on both should be capped.



Fidel Castro: hero of the left, or dangerous authoritarian dictator?

David Newton

Edinburgh



Hero of the left – but time for Cuba to move on.



How can you possibly give proper attention to any of your five jobs?

Stephen Falkowski

Swindon



Because they are all to do with equality and democracy.



I'm one of your constituents and am totally against the congestion charge. Will you please try to change Ken's mind?

George Font

Camberwell



Sorry, no. Ken wants to reduce carbon emissions and cut traffic jams. So the C-charge and better public transport is the way forward.



Now that the dust has settled, will you apologise for voting for the Iraq war?

Colin Thronton

by email



No, because I thought that there were weapons of mass destruction. But, if I'd have known there weren't, I wouldn't have.



What has been your proudest moment as an MP?

Lucy Hall

Cheshire



Being part of Labour's team that kicked the Tories out in 1997.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea