Harriet Harman finds an unusual way of showing she’s not a ‘humourless feminist’
The Labour MP recounted a ‘vile’ joke on BBC One’s This Week programme.
Harriet Harman has stressed that anti-Semitic jokes are “no laughing matter” – after recounting one while live on the BBC.
The former deputy Labour leader landed herself in hot water during a discussion on This Week about the limits of acceptable humour.
“I’ve long been accused of being a humourless feminist and I’ll give you two examples that I protested about because they were offensive and hurtful,” said Harman.
She added: "People like Andrew say that these things are perfectly alright. Two jokes - one was how do you get 100 Jews into a Mini - one in the driving seat, 99 in the ash tray. And that is not funny."
As fellow guest Michael Portillo looked bemused and slightly shellshocked, host Andrew Neil then stopped the Labour MP from telling the second joke. He also angrily hit back at the idea that he might defend such a joke:
"We won't bother with a minute's silence that you would dare to think what I would think about that because you have no knowledge of that at all."
He later tweeted about the exchange, saying he was "appalled and even a little bit upset by what she said."
Harman was offered support by Labour shadow minister Chi Onwurah, who said: "I remember those kind of jokes in 1980s Imperial College rag mag. Very isolating for minority/female students like me. Good on you, Harriet."
The chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council Simon Johnson took a different view. He said: "I cannot recall being so disappointed in a politician. Harriet Harman must surely know better than to repeat a vile Holocaust joke, irrespective of the point she was trying to make. She must apologise and do so quickly. It is a staggering error of judgment."