MOANING Harriet Harman champions herself as the one politician who is concerned with equality and is making the ludicrous demand that half of the party’s shadow cabinet should be comprised of women.

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She wants the rules revised for shadow cabinet elections to make sure there is a 50-50 split between men and women.

“It’s time for Labour women to step out of the shadows,” she told the national conference of the trade union Unite in Manchester.

Harman likes the sound of her own voice. She has an opinion on everything and seems to have an almost pathological hatred for the male of the species.

No doubt she will be upset if, as looks likely, the leadership contest to succeed Gordon Brown comprises of three, perhaps, white middle aged men.

Harman is acting leader of the Labour Party. At 59, she is not too old to lead the party full time.

So instead of haranguing all and sundry, she should put her money where her public school-educated mouth is and enter the contest.

Her education is part of her hang-up. Having been sent to the top public fee-paying St Paul’s Girls’ School by her father - a physician who practised private medical care in London’s Harley Street - she has a distinctly Tory voice. There’s blue blood in her veins - her aunt is Elizabeth Pakenham, Countess of Longford, and her cousins include the writers Lady Antonia Fraser, Lady Rachel Billington, and Thomas Pakenham.

All this seems to have given Harman a complex about her privileged background. I have no doubt that her support for the poorest members of society is absolutely genuine, but if she wants her arguments in favour of the empowerment of women in a male dominated political society to be taken seriously, she really ought to put up or shut up.

And if she ever shuts up, we won’t be treated any more to such tripe as her opinion: “Labour is the only party in parliament which speaks up for women in this country.”

Doubtless, the other 80 Labour women MPs will rush to nominate her and then vote for her.

If she doesn’t grab this opportunity, her continuing complaints about inequality will lack all credibility.

<Ben Gummer’s>

<claim to fame>

THE more the General Election results are analysed, some remarkable facts are emerging.

Take the Ipswich constituency as an example. Ben Gummer’s achievement is winning by a majority of more than 2,000 is the largest margin of victory for the Conservatives in the town since November 1935.

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