Tara Hamilton-Miller: Rival girl gangs at Westminster

Harriet Harman wants it so desperately; this sister is very much doing it for herself.

It is almost impossible to listen to her without imagining her steadily looking into the mirror every morning and practising the startled humble face she will project when she stands outside No 10 as leader.

The queen of positioning herself, Harman is like the head girl at school who is kept going by utter self-belief.

Lightweight and dangerous with policy, she shocks Labour MPs with her transparency.

Aware of the lack of support from her own party (many of the Brownites who offered her support resent her disloyalty), she has chosen the route of mass media and is trying to sound like a woman of the people. She cannot play a long game because of her age. Even if she is leader for a short time in a Michael Howard caretaker way, to end one’s career as the first woman leader of Labour is coveted.

She is stacking potential supporters by using her and her husband’s positions on the party’s organisation sub-committee to rule that almost every seat that becomes vacant must be an all-woman shortlist – these candidates will feel they owe her.

Harman’s best girls are Margaret Hodge and Patricia Hewitt, over-powdered Blairite modernisers who voted for her because they are personal friends. It is said they drink tea and talk about Kinnock a lot. Rival cooler girls Hazel Blears, Caroline Flint and Jacqui Smith (Ginger, Posh and Scary) hang out together.

It is best to be in the Blears gang. They can be seen in Westminster, downing double vodkas in the Strangers Bar. They probably talk about boys, go back to Flint’s and watch Dirty Dancing, know each other’s star signs and borrow each other’s sparkly evening bags for constituency suppers. God I’m jealous.

Women can be even more ruthless than men – from the playground to Parliament this particular group will have chosen their coven at an early stage. Tory MP girl gangs? Shamefully there are not enough women. After the next election Theresa May and Caroline Spelman will be recruiting and then the fun will begin.


Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and formerly worked for the Conservative Party press team

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