Did Harriet Harman blog her way to victory?


I spent half an hour on Saturday studying the blogs of the contestants running for deputy Labour leader and my conclusion was that Harriet Harman clearly deserved to win, even though the odds were against her. But at least one poll showed she should win on trust.

I’m sure you will come to the same conclusion too if you scrutinise their blogs, the way they expressed themselves and communicated. How closely did their blogs mirror their personalities? How seriously did they take this form of interactive communication?

At the end of the day, HH was the best communicator, she regularly updated her blog and responded to comments. Interestingly, she has stated on her blog that she would like an enquiry into the Iraq war when our troops have returned home, as well as a debate about our relationship with the US. Time will tell if she can deliver on these, whether they get the support of Gordon Brown. It certainly show she wants a more open and accountable government.

Meanwhile Alan Johnson, despite securing the skills of the very competent Stuart Bruce, has not updated his blog for more than two weeks. In fact, he didn’t write any of the posts himself. What purpose did it really serve if he was not using it to interact and show his “human” face? I do not feel it did him any favours.

Hazel Blears’ blog was quite dreary and did not allow comments to  be posted,  while Jon Cruddas‘s site attracted several comments and he published some YouTube posts too. Only several of his posts were written by a campaigner, particularly  recent ones. This did not give his readers the opportunity to interact.

Hilary Benn didn’t write a blog and at one time found he was considered the most popular contender. And I think Peter Hain tried, but he also relied on guest authors and provided very few comment facilities, so again, there was no real interaction. But he can take comfort in having most friends on facebook.

So I concluded that HH wrote the best blog, and maybe that’s why she she trumped them all and deserved to win on this basis.  I also think she will be a great asset for Labour as their deputy leader, especially helping to win back women voters and she will work vigorously at trying to restore trust. She will be a big threat for the Tories. However, I am disappointed for her that she has been sidelined as Party Chairman and not appointed deputy prime minister.

I hope she will continue to write her blog.

P.S. I wonder if any of the candidates would have been interested in this position if they had known they were not going to be offered the job of deputy prime minister. What is the point of being a deputy party leader and party chairman and going through such an intensive campaign?

Great headline in today’s Sun: “Out of Harm’s way for Gordon“.



    Before she became an MP, Harriet Harman was the legal officer in the late 1970s for the National Council for Civil Liberties. When Miss Harman joined NCCL in 1978, PIE, the Paedophile Information Exchange, had already been affiliated for three years. Another group, Paedophile Action for Liberation, a Gay Liberation Front offshoot, had also been affiliated to NCCL until it was absorbed by PIE. PIE, which campaigned for adults to have sex legally with children, only broke off its relationship with NCCL when it went undercover in 1982, the same year that Harriet Harman left her NCCL post to become Member of Parliament for Peckham.
    NCCL people were earlier involved in keeping the name of an NCCL council-member, Jonathan Walters, out of the People newspaper when it ran an exposé of Paedophile Action for Liberation, of which he was secretary, in 1975. The People still ran the story, but Walters was not named.
    Even more extraordinary is the fact that a current Cabinet Minister was running the National Council of Civil Liberties at the time all this was going on.
    The Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt MP, Secretary of State for Health, became General Secretary of NCCL in 1974. The very next year, 1975, NCCL invited the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation to affiliate. In the year after, 1976, the now-notorious paedophile Tom O’Carroll was invited to address the NCCL conference, which promptly voted to ‘deplore’ the use of chemical castration treatments for paedophiles.
    Also in 1975, Patricia Hewitt joined the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, as a ‘straight’, in the same year that Keith Hose of the Paedophile Information Exchange addressed its second annual conference. Hose moved a motion of censure on the conference organising committee for ‘relegating paedophilia to ancillary status in conference.’ The motion was seconded by Trevor Locke, who just happened to be a member of the Executive Council of the NCCL. ‘An awareness and acceptance of the sexuality of children is an essential part of the liberation of the young homosexual,’ the motion went on. It was duly passed.
    Jack Dromey, whom Harriet Harman married in 1982, and who is now Treasurer of the Labour Party, was also involved with the NCCL. He served on its Executive Committee from 1970 to 1979, so he was there when the decision to invite the two paedophile groups to affiliate was made. NCCL also set up a gay rights sub-committee at the same time, members of which included prominent paedophiles Peter Bremner (alias Roger Nash), Michael Burbidge, Keith Hose and Tom O’Carroll. And of course Walters and Locke were on the Executive.

  2. blogging has become a growing force in politics these years and I believe that the power of blogging will continue to increase. I like the perspective presented here and I appreciate the discussion.

  3. As someone who follows Harriet’s blog avidly, I can only wonder how the other candidates managed even worse. Sadly, the lovely Harriet backtracked on most of her commitments almost the moment she had been elected, and seems to be in total denial when it comes to her remarks about Iraq.
    Still, she does seem to enjoy herself wandering round Britain meeting members of the public who sing Gordon Brown’s praises without reservation (where does she find them all?), it’s like a political blog equivalent of ‘Coast’.
    There’s a video of paint drying on YouTube. That’s pretty interesting too, I’m told.

  4. Well to quote a non-techie voter I know “I got all these promotional flyers and I only really recognised one person’s name”.

    As for being side-stepped for deputy PM, as many commentators have asked “What’s the point of a deputy prime-minister?” If I recall correctly it’s not an official cabinet position so there’s nothing stopping HH from getting a different position without needing to feel slighted.

  5. Ms Smack. Are you mad Electro-Kevin?

  6. For your blog to win people have to be interested in you first. By this reckonning The Hitch will be running our country with Ms Smack as his deputy.

  7. An interesting interview here at 18 Doughty Street about the blogs run by the candidates in the deputy leadership race:

  8. Well I can’t comment n the politics here but the blogging bit is interesting. We all know how much time it takes, so I would expect that some blogs might even have ghost writers. Turning off the comments is not likely to win you support, is it? Also the question is how many people read the blogs.
    All very interesting for your thesis Ellee.

  9. That is a good post Ellee and i agree with your conclusions having looked at a couple of the blogs.

    She is a great winner for us Tories, a person with no real views of means of expression!

  10. I don’t like her the most – she is the worse kind of patronising to the manor borne lefties..

  11. Not that many people read blogs though … I suppose it’s more quality than quantity of readership that counts here though …
    … by the way is Gordon Brown our prime minister yet? This is the bizarrest situation in that it’s pretty much going over my head… usually I follow politics but the Blair-Brown story is so incredibly dull… o I just don’t know …

  12. Interesting stuff. sounds like some students somewhere will be doing a thesis on this in the future.

  13. I wonder if Harriet could have refused the position of party chairman. I think I would have done in her position. That would have put Gordon on the spot.

    Heather, yes, I shall certainly be referring to this in my research project, this campaign was excellent timing.

  14. Good PR by Harman, I doubt she’ll continue in the same vein now.
    She surprised me by winning, but it does show an upsurge in membership activism and a wish to sweep out the remnants of NuLab.

  15. Thanks for the review on (new?) Labour blogs.
    Me thinks HH might have won because she’s a woman(?) and of course calling for an enquiry into Iraq.

    But I guess Hilary Benn & Peter Hain are pretty much down for Cabinet posts with Gordon.
    Whereas Harriet, well … she’s already held several cabinet posts in Blair’s government.

  16. I’m not sure that Harriet Harman will be that much of a threat to the the Tories. She represents the type of ‘do-gooding’, interfering, mealy mouthed politician that many have come to detest. And all that talk about people spending £10,000 on a handbag. What business is it of hers how we spend our legally acquired money?

    I for one am pleased that she won. The Tories, while not exactly in good shape at the moment, will be able to see her off.

  17. Very interesting about what effect blogging may or may not have had on the outcome. I think she’s probably the most competent of the bunch and at least she answers questions directly.

  18. Hi Ellee – Stuart Bruce explained in a piece I write for Technology Guardian that it was felt it was better not to blog, than to not do it properly. He did ‘twitter’ though:,,2081654,00.html

  19. Ellee – I trust you are going to use your blog research here as part of the methodology for your project?

    Interesting point about the outcome of the election in terms of the job offer. Has a sort of “The Apprentice” air to it with all the hype and then a possible gap to reality at the end of the process.

  20. Considering the fact that Blair fired her from the Cabinet in 1998 and never brought her back into it, I wonder what kind of position Gordo is going to give her now. Surely a deputy leader would have to hold a Cabinet job?
    As a Tory I am quite pleased with HH as deputy leader of the Labour Party. She is a mediocre Blairite loyalist, with a strong line in patronising, NuLabour double speak and will alienate many traditional Labour supporters. She was, after all, responsible for the cuts in single parents benefits in the early days of Blair’s 1st government. She said on the Today programme this morning that no apology is needed for Iraq and supports the nuclear deterrent. She was saying the exact opposite in her election campaign. That’ll go down well amongst the comrades.
    I doubt if Gordo’ll pay even the slightest bit of attention to her.

  21. Maalie, yes, it was incredibly close, but there is no victory in coming second – even if you lose by one vote.

    Interesting to see how Gordon has side-stepped her. What is the point of being deputy leader if you cannot also be deputy prime minister? I wonder if the candidates would have still been interested in this position if they had known in advance.

  22. Well, she’s certainly the prettiest of the bunch 😉

    But why oh why does the press come up with statements like: Her victory, therefore, suggests Labour members want not only a woman deputy…?

    It suggests nothing of the sort, just was only 1% ahead of Alan Johnson, that can hardly be described as “statistically significant” for goodness sake!


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