LabourList is reporting that Harriet Harman has ruled out a potential bid for the Labour leadership. In an interview with Andew Neil for Straight Talk to be broadcast this weekend, the deputy leader says she “absolutely” would not stand should a vacancy arise. PoliticsHome has the full exchange:
Andrew Neil: So, if a vacancy should arise for the leadership of your party you will not stand?
Harriett Harman: No, not.
AN: Under any circumstances?
HH: I’ve said so, absolutely not.
AN: If asked, will refuse; if nominated, will decline?
Looking for some background, Scrapook stumbled this BetFair blog post on Labour’s leadership contenders from August this year, when Harman was the favourite:
Labour’s current deputy has a vitriolic relationship with most of the press, and will undoubtedly be presented as an electoral disaster waiting to happen by certain commentators. That shouldn’t, however, make much of a difference to her chances of becoming the party’s next leader. Rather than being decided by the press or the wider voting public, this contest will be decided by Labour’s tripartite electoral college system, made up of MPs, party members and trade unionists.
Unlike any of her rivals, Harman has already shown she has enough support to win via that electoral college by beating five others for the deputy’s post. She has a long history of activism within the labour movement, and it can only help that her husband is the respected leading trade unionist Jack Dromey. She could well be the most left-wing candidate on the ballot paper at a time when the party wants to move back towards its socialist roots.
Two more factors favour Harman. As possibly the only woman in the contest, she has a strong base of female MPs and members who think its high time the party were led a woman. Secondly, Harman is one of the very few Labour MPs in a safe enough seat to survive an increasingly plausible wipe-out.
Verdict: A very strong contender, especially if the party loses badly, therefore eliminating potential challengers.
Harman is still second favourite with Ladbrokes at 9/2 but has already dropped to fourth on Betfair, behind Alan Johnson and the Milibands.
Sorry for lack of blogs today. Too many political irons in too many fires!