New Times,
New Thinking.

25 May 2010

Harriet Harman: “We will not pull our punches”

Acting Labour leader challenges government to secure economy and fairness.

By James Macintyre

Harriet Harman, the stand-in leader for Labour, has made it clear that her party, though going through a leadership election, will be an “effective” opposition in the coming months.

Harman said that while Labour will not oppose for the sake of it — because “that is not what the public wants” — “we will not pull our punches”. And she charged that the opposition is determined to “prevent unfairness”.

The current leader raised a laugh when she exposed differences between the Prime Minister and his deputy on fiscal policy. She added that “while the happy couple” enjoy the Rose Garden at No 10, “the in-laws” (their backbenchers) appear to feel “they are not quite right for each other”.

She also pointed out that on Europe, it is not just a problem that the coalition partners want “different questions” to be asked in referendums; they also want “different answers”.

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Harman branded the coalition a “political prenup” and condemned the new 55 per cent rule on votes of no confidence.

Attacking the Lib Dems’ move to retain “short money” for oppositions, Harman ridiculed them as not just being “all things to all men” but also trying to be “in government and opposition”.

She also exploited the controversial but quiet demotion of the Leader of the Commons — a role taken by Sir George Young — from the cabinet.

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