Harriet Harman: I hid my baby from Thatcher's 'horrific’ gaze

Written by Dods staff on 24 August 2017 in Diary
Diary

The former Labour deputy leader really didn’t like the Iron Lady.

Harriet Harman has told how she once hid in a room in the Palace of Westminster to shield her six week old baby from Margaret Thatcher’s gaze.

In a wide-ranging interview, the senior Labour MP spoke of her antipathy towards the former Tory prime minister.

She said: "I didn’t have any difficulty feeling that she was the enemy and I was fighting against everything she stood for. She was reinforcing the notion of the housewife…She was still reinforcing all the traditional notions."

The former Labour deputy leader then recalled seeing Thatcher walking towards her down a corridor after a late night vote.

"I could see she’d spotted I had the baby with me and was bearing down on me," she said

"Now normally the most instinctive thing for a mother is to show your baby. You’re so proud of your baby. It’s the most beautiful and wonderful thing in the world. You want nothing more than everybody to look at it and admire its perfection.

"But I had this feeling that I didn’t want her eyes to fall on my perfect baby. That – that it would be horrific. And I think perhaps if we – if I hadn’t have been able to find that room I would have literally drawn the cover over the baby’s face for her eyes not to fall on it."

"Now when I look back on that I think that’s quite weird really, but it tells me not only how obsessed I was with my baby at the time and how completely smitten and my brain turned upside down, but my visceral hostility to the prime minister.

"I mean really visceral. I mean I was, you know, out on the picket lines for the miner’s strike with a two year old and a six week old baby. I mean they were everything that we were fighting against. We thought they were ruining the country and there’s plenty of evidence to say they were."

 

 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Reflections With Peter Hennessy, Harman said she saw little difference between Thatcher and Theresa May.

!I think that Theresa May actually is still very much in the Thatcher mode. She is there proving she can do it as well or better than the men. She is not there to change the world to make it more equal for women.

"But some of the new generation of Conservative women MPs are more like the daughters of the women’s movement and I find them quite perplexing because they have a commitment to child care, they have a commitment to tackling domestic violence. They really believe in strong maternity rights. And I keep thinking, you’re in the wrong party then. You should be in the Labour Party.

"But I think that that generation of Conservative women, in whom I include Theresa May, they had no instinct of the fight for equality and the determination to make change. They wanted to succeed within the system as it was. We wanted to change the system."

Harman, who is the longest-serving female MP in the Commons, also claimed she would have won the Labour leadership contest in 2010 if she been in the running.

"The party hadn’t taken to David Miliband, they didn’t elect him. And they hardly knew Ed Miliband, but they elected him, whereas they did know me and they did like and support me” she said.

"So I think if I’d have stood I definitely would have got it. Whether I’d have made a success about it well, we never know, but I think I would have got it."

 

 

 

Pictures by Press Association.

 

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