Monday, June 25, 2007

Congratulations Harriet!

It is great news that Harriet Harman has been elected as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party! Over a year ago I spoke with Harriet and told her that she should stand and could win - so it was brilliant to see that hope come true. She has worked incredibly hard during this campaign, and articulated many of the views of Party members - so I also hope that her views will carry real weight with Gordon Brown as we prepare for the next General Election. My own view is that Gordon Brown should make Harriet Deputy Prime Minister - I think many Party members will be baffled if he promotes those deputy leadership candidates who came well below Harriet in the contest to significant positions above her. The whole deputy leadership debate has been about listening to the party membership - so Gordon can now take the opportunity to reflect the fact that he does value the views of the party membership by placing Harriet into a genuine position of authority.

In any event we know that Harriet will be back in the Cabinet after 9 years - and with her role of Deputy Leader and Labour Party Chair she will be in a superb position to champion the people of Camberwell and Peckham and Southwark.

The atmosphere in Manchester yesterday was electric. It was an election which was too close to call - but the common view seemed to be that Alan Johnson would win through. This seemed to be confirmed when the deputy leadership candidates came into the Hall, with Alan smiling broadly and the only one carrying any papers - surely this was his acceptance speech. Five minutes later mobile phones were buzzing with the news that the BBC and Sky were announcing that Harriet had won. Then the phones buzzed again with the news that the BBC had effectively 'un-announced' Harriet's victory!

So it was truly exciting as the results of the ballot were read out - and the computer graphics eventually pushed Harriet over the 50% mark. It is amazing that the result is almost identical to Denis Healey's winning margin over Tony Benn in 1981.

Harriet made a strong and thoughtful speech which was very well received. I do believe that she speaks for a section of the electorate who are too often taken for granted. Gordon Brown was also impressive as he began to lay out his vision for Britain under his premiership - I am confident that Labour can meet "the challenge of change"

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