Andy McSmith's Diary: Was Harriet Harman discriminated against for being useless?


Damian McBride, the former Labour spin doctor sometimes referred to as McPoison, was thought to have gained an inner calm while working for the Catholic charity Cafod, a job he recently left ahead of the appearance of a paperback version of his annoyingly readable memoirs. Today, though, he blew a fuse. What set him off was the news that Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, was implicitly accusing McBride’s old boss, Gordon Brown, of sexism.

Delivering the Speakers Lecture in Parliament, Ms Harman complained: “Imagine my surprise when having won a hard-fought election to succeed John Prescott as deputy leader of the Labour Party, I discovered that I was not to succeed him as Deputy Prime Minister. If one of the men had won the deputy leadership would that have happened? Would they have put up with it?”

She also remarked that when the G20 world leaders met in London, she was invited to a dinner for the leaders’ wives.

McBride did not think much of either point. The winner of the 2007 deputy leadership campaign was never going to be appointed Deputy Prime Minister, whoever he or she might be, he claimed, and the dinner was for “Britain’s leading women from all walks of life” of whom Harriet was surely one. The person at Brown’s side during the G20 negotiations was a different woman, Shriti Vadera. “Why?” he wrote. “Because she was the world expert on what needed to happen. With all due respect, Harriet was not.”

And on the general charge of sexism: “Gordon divides the world into only two categories: useless and not useless; that is the only basis on which he judges anyone.”

Love that phrase “with all due respect”.

Sack the photo editor

When the Minister for Skills, the high-flying Tory MP Matthew Hancock, posed in a skate park on the South Bank in central London for a photograph that appeared in Total Politics magazine – publicising the rebranding of London’s so-called “Boris bikes” – neither he nor the photographer noticed the graffiti on the column behind him. But someone from the Buzzfeed website did. In bold letters it said “Sack Cameron”.

The Russians are coming

Patrick O’Flynn, the newly elected Ukip MEP, started a new Twitter account when he left his old job as a columnist for the Daily Express. The old one, meanwhile, has taken on a new life. At its head there is a photograph of a young woman reclining in a very short skirt, beneath is a string of messages in Russian, including one that, when translated, says “Ahahahaha I haven’t a single friend online.”

Poor, sad devushka. Someone should put her in touch with the MP for Portsmouth South, Mike Hancock: he likes Russian women.

Nothing to speak of

Later this week there will be an anniversary that may go uncelebrated. The Baroness Falkender, who was once famous as Harold Wilson’s fiery personal assistant, will have completed 40 years as a Labour member of the House of Lords. When it was announced in 1974 that Marcia Williams, as she then was, was being elevated to the peerage, the furore was such that the Labour MP Dennis Skinner happily forecast that it would hasten the abolition of the House of Lords. But in the ensuing decades, all has gone quiet.

Baroness Falkender occasionally clocks in to claim her £300 daily attendance allowance, but you will not find a Baroness Falkender speech in any back number of Hansard: in 40 years as a legislator she has not uttered a public word in the Lords. No harm done there.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Neil Warnock
football'New' manager for Crystal Palace
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
Arts and Entertainment
BBC series 'Sherlock' scooped a hat-trick of awards on the night. Benedict Cumberbatch received the award for Actor, Miniseries or Movie ('Sherlock: His Last Vow') while Martin Freeman won the award for Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie. Neither actor was present to collect their awards
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Oracle DBA (Database Administrator, 10g, 11g, PL/SQL)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + £5k shift allowance, 12% bonus, benefits: Clearwat...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Sup...

IT Teacher September strt with view to permanent post

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: IT...

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis