Oh, good God. Well, she has the advantage of being the Crudmeister’s second favourite candidate, and being “sorry” about her vote on the Iraq war. Oh yes, and her other major selling point: she’s a woman. Which apparently means she therefore represents the sisterhood. Don’t blame me; that really is pretty much the sales pitch she used.
And her other achievements that demonstrate how she merits the job? Errm… kinda hard to think of any at the mo. I wondered initially, if I tried hard, whether something would spring to mind which demonstrates somehow that Harman isn’t quite the walking bag of mediocrity that she appears to be at first glance. And second glance. And third. But of course it didn’t, because Harman really is the wishy-washy liberal and third-rate Blairite minister that she always seemed to be.
No, the real saving grace is that the job to which she has been elected, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, is utterly meaningless. It matters no more that Harriet Harman is Deputy Leader of the Labour Party than that someone has been hired to wear a chicken suit to advertise your local takeaway. Gordon Brown will continue to enact the same neoliberal agenda that he always had in mind, the same Thatcherism-on-cocaine economic policies, the same slow erosion and abolition of any public service ethos in the state sector. And Harriet will continue to bleat on like the Hampstead liberal she always was, offering him southern, London-friendly cover for his hair-shirted politics. At least the chicken suit guy really is offering you some meat.
At least now that farce is over, we can stop pretending that the election for Deputy Leader had any relevance whatsoever to the future of progressive politics in the UK. It’s time to have a discussion, to reflect on the failures both of the extra-Labour challenges from Respect and the Socialist Party, and on the equal failure of the Labour Left via the McDonnell campaign to mount a challenge from within. Time to drop preconceptions and old feuds. Time to talk.