Tag Archives: Harriet Harman

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-up

The election is gathering pace as we head into the last few weeks and now the manifestos are being introduced. Today the Labour Party has published its manifesto which you can read here.

One of its most important pledges is its economic promise. The Labour Party guarantees that each of its policies will be fully funded and require no additional borrowing.

The party manifesto also promises:
 A £2.5bn fund for the NHS paid for largely by a mansion tax on properties valued at over £2m
 Twenty-five hours of childcare for working parents of three and four-year olds, paid for by increasing the banking levy by £800m
 Freezing gas and electricity bills until 2017, so they can only fall not rise
 Banning zero-hour contracts and raising the minimum wage to £8
 Scrapping winter fuel payments for the richest pensioners, capping child benefit rises and cutting ministers’ pay by five per cent
 A 50p tax rate on incomes over £150,000 a year and abolishing non-dom status

In an interview with Andrew Marr yesterday the party’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, brilliantly set out Labour’s plan.

During the interview with Marr she said, Labour is not talking to the Liberal Democrats behind the scenes about a partnership after the election and stated the Tory NHS funding pledge is ‘illusory’. She also criticised the Conservatives’ negative campaigning which she said was undermining the economy and “it just turns people off”.

Meanwhile, The Guardian’s Zoe Williams popped down to South Thanet to follow the campaign which Nigel Farage is fighting.

Among the many observations she made concerned Ukip’s local polices which she described as “disjointed and petty.”

“Its three main promises are first, the compulsory purchase of Manston airport to protect its aviation use, even though pretty much nobody round here has their own plane. Secondly, it wants to redraft the local housing plan to stop new houses being built, while at the same time offering “jobs for local people” (how a construction freeze will achieve this is unclear). Thirdly, Ukip will introduce an on-the-spot fine if you let your dog foul a path. Come on: dog shit? It’s come to something when the new politics makes the old stuff look ambitious,” she wrote.

Just a week ago, Williams points out that Ukip was accused of burying a poll it commissioned that showed its support dropping off rapidly in Thanet.

The reality is that there are two simple choices people can make in this election. They can choose to vote for a Conservative government which protects the interests of the few. A Conservative government will make further cuts and has already announced unfunded policy pledges such as its £8 billion promise for the NHS…where the funding is coming from is anyone’s guess.

The alternative is a Labour government, a progressive party which is fair, protects the most vulnerable but which creates opportunity and encourages business to flourish.

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Honeyball’s Weekly Round-up

Last week we were told that the out dated, sexist, objectification of women- in the form of The Sun’s Page 3 ‘girls’-was to cease. There was excitement across feminist circles, women commentators and campaigners who couldn’t hide their delight at this surprising victory, following a sudden apparent change of heart among the chiefs at The Sun.

However, it was all rather short lived and before the end of the week the paper had yet again featured a winking, topless model on its infamous third page.

It was disappointing to say the least but perhaps the most hurtful event was the goading tweets sent by the paper’s (evidentially rather childish) head of PR.

He sent offensive messages of the model winking to the journalist Kay Burley, Roy Greenslade and Labour’s Harriet Harman via twitter. He later apologised for this and specifically to Harman whom he admitted he had never been involved in a twitter spat with.

The latest episode shows a huge lack of respect for those who have campaigned for so long to put an end to the out-dated and sexist images and also fails to acknowledge that Page 3 is offensive to so many of us-not just women. You can read more on this here.

Writing for the Guardian last week, Alberto Nardelli, the papers data editor, revealed “Four ways Labour has had a better start to 2015 than the Tories”. Among them, he reminds us that the parties’ first round of election poster wars was won by Labour and he goes on to describe how voters are closing in on Cameron with analysis of a number of polls including some commissioned by Lord Ashcroft.

You can read his analysis here. 

Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman launched the party’s national women’s tour, during which she promised to get more women to vote. As the campaign progresses there will be a battle van on the road. There is so much interest from Labour women activists who want to get involved, Harriet promised: “There is so much enthusiasm, so many women want to join the tour, it is going to be great,” she told the Eastern Daily Press while at a round table event in Norwich. Read more here.

The deputy Labour leader also warned of the dangers of supporting Ukip last week, especially if you are a woman. She said it tolerated appalling anti female remarks and offered a policy platform which is bad for women, while some 90% of its PPC candidates are men.

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Honeyball’s Weekly Round-up

Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, gave a revealing and frank interview to the Observer this weekend. In it she revealed that taking her seat in Parliament 32 years ago was a very different experience to what today’s female elected MPs might experience. When she was first elected, Parliament was 97% male. “We were very much fish out of water and regarded as intruders in the world of politics. But I think there is now a critical mass of women,” she said.

Of course the House of Commons is still disproportionately made up of men, just 22% of seats are represented by women. While this is a significant improvement even since 1987 when just 41 MPs were women, evidently there is still a huge amount of work to do before any kind of equality is reached.

The opening of the European Parliament took place in Strasbourg last week, and to mark the occasion an orchestra played Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the EU’s unofficial anthem. However, in an act of protest UKIP, Led by Nigel Farage, stood with their backs turned while the anthem was played. It was extremely ignorant and disrespectful. However, their display simply served to reiterate that the party doesn’t in any way take its role seriously and is not able to act in anyway as a credible opposition.
Over the weekend it was announced that Police would lose the power to unilaterally “drop” rape investigations, even if they think there is insufficient evidence to proceed, under a Labour government.

The party will tackle the way in which sexual crimes are handled if elected. It was revealed over the weekend that the shadow Attorney General, Emily Thornberry, will announce this week that the Police service will have to get agreement from the Crown Prosecution Service if they wish to end an investigation. Under current rules the Police are not obligated to investigate a case or present it to prosecutors.

The Independent on Sunday revealed: “she hopes the plan would end the culture of rape and sexual violence being an ‘optional’ crime to investigate and help end a ‘culture of defeatism’ where the authorities believe there will never be a large number of rape convictions because it is ‘too difficult’ to prosecute.

I don’t doubt sexual violence is a hugely under-reported crime in the same way that human trafficking is. These crimes are heavily associated with power and control and this would be a significant move towards supporting victims and letting them know that the crime will be properly investigated. Hopefully, with knowledge that they will be believed, this will go some way to encourage more victims to report the crime of which they are a victim.

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Harriet Harman takes to the (LBC) airwaves

Labour’s Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, is to take to the airwaves with a monthly radio phone-in on presenter Iain Dale’s Drive Time show.

She is already scheduled to make appearances on 14 July, 8 September and 14 October.

It’s a great opportunity for Harriet to debate with listeners and will provide an excellent alternative view for listeners who also tune into the regular show that Nick Clegg takes part in.

I’m sure both Harriet and Iain will enjoy good natured banter while they debate the issues of the day.

Regular phone-ins with politicians are an increasingly popular way to communicate with the electorate and I think it can be really effective.

So I’m pleased Harriet has taken this opportunity and will look forward to tuning in and listening to the shows.

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Brighton Conference Round Up

The Labour Party Women’s Conference held on Saturday was probably the best attended I have experienced in over thirty years. With over 1000 women it was well-informed and lively. It was really heart-warming to see so many Labour women coming together, and goes to show that feminism is alive and well.

Key speakers Harriet Harman and Yvette Cooper told the audience that Labour is the Party for women. The Tories don’t care and the Lib-Dems can’t deliver. In my own contribution from the floor I made sure delegates knew about UKIP’s sexist and racist attitudes plus the fact that they do not have one single woman MEP.

In the afternoon we had an amazing session with Melissa Benn and the feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez chaired by all-time favourite Bonnie Greer. Melissa, whose book on bringing up daughters has just been published, is well known to Labour women while Caroline Criado-Perez spoke eloquently about the online abuse she received following her campaign to get women onto British banknotes.

On Saturday evening I was at the London Labour reception catching up with many old friends including Gareth Thomas, Martin and Sara Linton and Parvez Ahmed

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On Sunday afternoon we had the first official photos of our Labour MEP team for the 2014 elections. Here’s a behind the scenes shot as we prepared with Ivana Bartoletti, Claude Moraes, Kamaljeet Jandu, Sanchia Alasia, Seb Dance, and Lucy Anderson.

On Sunday evening I held my usual dinner for London Conference delegates, which is becoming quite a tradition. We very lucky this time to have as our guest speaker Bob Mulholland from California, a Democrat campaign strategist and a super delegate voting for Hillary Clinton. Bob gave a great speech, very up front and very entertaining. Politics is certainly different in the USA.

 

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Bob’s key message is that you have to win in order to have any power to bring about change. That’s a message we have to hang on to for the European and local elections on 22 May next year. We must win both these elections so that Labour can take the concrete action this country so desperately needs. These elections are also the last time people go to the polls before the 2015 general election. A strong result on May 22 will therefore have a big impact on getting Ed Miliband into 10 Downing Street.

Earlier in the week, meanwhile, I was pleased to see J.K. Rowling criticise the stigma attached to single mothers. Best-selling author Rowling, who drafted the first Harry Potter book as a lone parent struggling to find work, describes her “slowly evaporating sense of self-esteem”. “Assumptions [are] made about your morals, your motives for bringing your child into the world or your fitness to raise that child,” she says.

Before coming into politics I managed Gingerbread – the single parent support charity of which Rowling is now President. I have seen firsthand how difficult and isolating raising a child alone can be – and how it changes the way you are perceived and treated.

One of the most pernicious consequences of austerity is an increase in this kind of stigmatisation. Words like ‘chav’ or ‘scrounger’ have become commonplace, as have stereotypes about single mums. The Conservatives – with their attacks on benefits claimants and attempts to promote marriage through the tax system – wilfully play into this. As a result mothers are now more likely than ever to be “defined” by their single parent status. To help break this cycle it is vital that Rowling and other success stories continue to speak out.

Sadly not a lot seems to have changed since I was Chief Executive of Gingerbread in the early 1990s.       

 

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Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Harriet Harman this week said that the lack of female sports broadcasters and players is “woeful” and called for government action.

She criticised the inequality in funding for male and female sports and demanded equal prize money for men and women in sporting competitions.  The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party told the Daily Mirror: “There’s an entrenched pattern of inequality that is more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century.  There are now a few women broadcasters but the journalists are overwhelmingly men. At every level – both about communicating sport and making the decisions about sport – it’s men running the show. It’s woeful.  The Government doesn’t have a coherent strategy for sport in schools, let alone for girls sport in schools and they need to get a grip on it.”

Ms Harman said the inequality in sports would damage the UK’s chances of producing more female Olympic winners such as gold medallist Jessica Ennis.  She has called on the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee to hold a comprehensive inquiry into the issues.  She added that although 36 per cent of Team GB medals were won by women at the London Olympics, women’s sport received just 0.5 per cent of the total sponsorship money.

There is also a difference in the winnings male and female sports stars earn.

The World Twenty20 cricket tournament awarded £618,000 to the men’s winning team while only £38,000 went to the female champions.  Next year’s men’s FA Cup winners will get £1.8 million but the women receive £5,000.  Wimbledon is one of the few competitions where the prize money is equal.  Ms Harman also said it is time to end the loophole that allows men-only sports clubs, like Muirfield golf course.

She said: “We have clubs where women are only allowed in the company of a man. It is ridiculous and has absolutely no place in the 21st century.”

Ms Harman also called for the Football League, which does not have a single female manager, to change.

It followed the success of England football star Rachel Yankey, who last week beat Peter Shilton’s record to become the country’s most-capped player with 125 appearances.  I urge everyone to watch Hope Powell’s England, who are in Sweden, ready to compete in Women’s Euro 2013.

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Shocking figures reveal lack of women aged 50+ on TV

Just one in five presenters at major broadcasters over the age of 50 are women

Although a shocking figure in one sense, it really should not be a complete surprise. I’d probably struggle to count on one hand the number of women presenters over the age of 50 who regularly appear on TV or who have their own shows. Yes there are some well-known faces, but they are an exception.

As soon as you hit 50 your days are numbered, as Miriam O’Reilly knows only too well. It was her brave decision to fight her employer, the BBC, over this discrimination which forced  the industry to recognise it has a problem.  O’Reilly was interviewed in the Guardian just last week and reveals how she has spoken to other women who were as badly bullied and/or side-lined in the same way she was. Veteran presenter Anna Ford who is sadly no longer on our screens lamented the lack of older women television presenters again in the Guardian last Saturday.

Harriet Harman’s figures, published recently show ‘just one in five presenters at major broadcasters over the age of 50 are women’, is terrible. It shows that women have to fight harder than men to achieve the same roles and do so throughout their careers.

We are familiar with the difficulties women face when going back to work following a period of maternity leave, and we know how hard it is for women to reach the board and executive level in many companies because we have the stats to prove it from recent research studies.  And now women are faced with their working lives being cut short because they are not considered ‘the right fit’? Whatever the reason executives must stop discriminating against capable and experienced women who are 50+. This is a period which should be one of the highlights of women’s careers. After all women in their 50s are experienced, knowledgeable, and should, therefore, be sought after not (as unfortunately they are) side-lined.

Harriet Harman rightly said: “It really is a black hole … Broadcasters behave as though the viewing public have to be protected from the sight of an older woman and that’s just rude. There is nothing wrong with being an older woman….We’ve got to fight back against this sense that older women are less valuable, whereas men accumulate wisdom, authority and experience as they age.”

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