Harriet Harman

Harriet Ruth Harman QC (born 30 July 1950) is a British politician and solicitor who has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Camberwell and Peckham, formerly Peckham, since 1982. A member of the Labour Party, she has served in various Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet positions.

Harriet Harman
Official portrait, 2020
Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights
Assumed office
29 October 2015
Preceded byHywel Francis
Leader of the Opposition
In office
8 May 2015  12 September 2015
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Shadow First SecretaryHilary Benn (acting)
Preceded byEd Miliband
Succeeded byJeremy Corbyn
In office
11 May 2010  25 September 2010
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Shadow Deputy PMJack Straw (acting)
Preceded byDavid Cameron
Succeeded byEd Miliband
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Chair of the Labour Party
In office
24 June 2007  12 September 2015
Leader
Preceded by
Succeeded byTom Watson
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
8 October 2011  11 May 2015
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byIvan Lewis
Succeeded byChris Bryant
Shadow Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
7 October 2010  8 May 2015
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byJack Straw (acting)
Succeeded byHilary Benn (acting Shadow First Secretary of State)
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
In office
8 October 2010  7 October 2011
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byDouglas Alexander
Succeeded byIvan Lewis
Leader of the House of Commons
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
In office
28 June 2007  11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Deputy
Preceded byJack Straw
Succeeded byGeorge Young
Minister for Women and Equality[lower-alpha 1]
In office
28 June 2007  11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byRuth Kelly
Succeeded byTheresa May
In office
3 May 1997  27 July 1998
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byThe Baroness Jay of Paddington
Minister of State for Justice[lower-alpha 2]
In office
10 May 2005  28 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byMichael Wills
Solicitor General for England and Wales
In office
11 June 2001  10 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byRoss Cranston
Succeeded byMike O'Brien
Secretary of State for Social Security
In office
3 May 1997  27 July 1998
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byPeter Lilley
Succeeded byAlistair Darling
Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security
In office
1 July 1996  2 May 1997
LeaderTony Blair
Preceded byChris Smith
Succeeded byStephen Dorrell
Shadow Secretary of State for Health
In office
19 October 1995  1 July 1996
LeaderTony Blair
Preceded byMargaret Beckett
Succeeded byChris Smith
Shadow Secretary of State for Employment
In office
26 October 1994  19 October 1995
LeaderTony Blair
Preceded byJohn Prescott
Succeeded byDavid Blunkett (Education and Employment)
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
18 July 1992  26 October 1994
Leader
Preceded byMargaret Beckett
Succeeded byAlistair Darling
Member of Parliament
for Camberwell and Peckham
Peckham (1982–1997)
Assumed office
28 October 1982
Preceded byHarry Lamborn
Majority33,780 (59.8%)
Personal details
Born
Harriet Ruth Harman

(1950-07-30) 30 July 1950 (age 71)
Marylebone, London, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)
(m. 1982; died 2022)
Children3
Parent(s)John B. Harman
Anna Spicer
Alma materUniversity of York
WebsiteOfficial website

Born in London to a doctor and a barrister, Harman was privately educated at St Paul's Girls' School before going on to study politics at the University of York. After working for Brent Law Centre, she became a legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties, a role in which she was found in contempt of court following action pursued by Michael Havers, a former Attorney General. She successfully took a case, Harman v United Kingdom, to the European Court of Human Rights which found Havers had breached her right to freedom of expression.

Harman was elected as MP for Peckham at a 1982 by-election. She was made a shadow social services minister in 1984 and a shadow health minister in 1987. Under John Smith, she served as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and, under Tony Blair, as Shadow Employment Secretary, Shadow Health Secretary and Shadow Social Security Secretary respectively. Following the 1997 general election victory, she was appointed Secretary of State for Social Security and the first ever Minister for Women, serving until 1998 when she left the Cabinet. In 2001, she was appointed Solicitor General for England and Wales, serving until 2005 when she became Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs. She ran in the 2007 deputy leadership election and defeated five other candidates, ultimately defeating Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson, by a narrow margin. Gordon Brown, who was elected as party leader, appointed her Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Privy Seal, Minister for Women and Equality and Chairman of the Labour Party.

Upon defeat at the 2010 general election, Brown resigned as party leader and Harman, as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, became Acting Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition until Ed Miliband was elected leader. She subsequently served as Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, combining the position with that of Shadow International Development Secretary from 2010 to 2011 and then Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary from 2011 to 2015. In 2014, Harman expressed regret after it was revealed that the Paedophile Information Exchange had affiliated status within the NCCL while she had been legal officer. Following Labour's defeat at the 2015 general election, Miliband resigned as Leader of the Labour Party and Harman once again became Acting Leader and Leader of the Opposition. She announced that she would also resign as Deputy Leader, prompting a concurrent deputy leadership election.


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